Moroccan-Swedish singer Loreen thrilled Eurovision audiences this week, taking out the competition’s crown for a record-breaking second time. For the global viewers, the winner’s intricate henna and eye-catching nail art were also worth a second look.
Two henna artists worked on Loreen’s henna for her high impact Eurovision finals design. Hasanah Umar, a Swedish henna artist with Indonesian roots, has been working with henna for the past 10 years. “I see myself as a chameleon where it is easy for me to copy henna styles, but what I mainly do is intricate modern designs. I work with smaller details, straight lines, and a lot of symmetry. I really enjoy doing traditional desi design as well,” she shares.
The henna for the Eurovision final look was inspired by culture, heritage, and representation of Loreen’s background, according to Umar. “It was important for me that the henna was personal, and reflected me as a henna artist and Loreen as a creative and talented performer. By asking her what her vision was with her performance, I could understand how she was thinking and connect the henna to her performance.” Umar was thrilled to see the attention Loreen’s henna received at a global level. “I’ve worked with known people, but not to an extent where the henna has gone as viral as it has done when working with Loreen. This time the henna was seen by millions of people, and had the power to possibly open conversation about an artform that many people in Europe had never seen before.”
“The base for the edgy look was inspired by the squared shape stage platform that Loreen lies on during her performance. Loreen is from northern Morocco and is originally Amazigh. Her heritage made me want to infuse a little bit of Fessi henna style, mostly seen in Morocco, together with the famous Amazigh symbols the yaz, which was also displayed in the roof of her stage scene. We decided to do traditional dipped fingers to really make a mark. To even things out we ended the design with softer details. The henna from the hands got converted into matching under chest henna and henna for the feet. We met up two days before her leaving for Liverpool. Henna will stay fresh for about a week which meant that it needed to be refilled for her performance and this is where the local artist Saná came in to assist.”
Taking over from Umar, British Yemeni henna artist Saná Gubari worked on Loreen’s design directly ahead of the Eurovision performances. “I have been doing henna since I was 14, so have done it for 9 years now,” she shares. “My henna style is very diverse as I have always had a wide range of clients from all different cultures and backgrounds so I have had to learn and adapt to cater to my clients’ preferred taste and style. I would probably say that my specialty is the Gulf style and intricate henna, but I can replicate any design or style my client wants.”
“Loreen wanted to make as many people feel included in her performance and honor her heritage and so that’s why she chose that style of henna,” explains Gubari. “Loreen told me to feel free to add my own touch or elements to the design, but I loved the original design so much and how traditional yet modern it was, and so I stuck to the original design. The only thing I added was the dipped toes on her feet as Loreen wanted to add that to the design to match her hands, because it is what is done traditionally by women in our cultures to make them feel beautiful.”
For Loreen’s nail extensions, nails artist Danielle Lundgren worked closely with the singer to create art pieces which were exaggerated, but still very organic. “I was really excited as not many artists want these long nails for live performances,” explains Lundgren. “She showed me pictures of a desert and told me that was going to be the inspiration for the performance. Loreen also invoked the imagery of smoky quartz crystal, leading Lundgren to utilize portions of crystal clusters in her design. “The challenge was not to make it too heavy and sharp since she was going to dance in them,” she adds. “The result was pretty amazing and the quartz really gave it a organic feeling to the nails.”
Loreen wore five different sets of performance nails during her time at Eurovision. “I used different types of crystals and stones so every set had a different shade and colour,” recalls Lundgren. “A lot of work was put in to this, and I would say it took me maybe one full week to complete these five different sets.”
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