Photographer Rayan Nawawi, Kuwait-based artist Ali Cha’aban, and Saudi Arabian designer Mohammed Khoja of Hindamme have collaborated for the first time. Naturally, the results are thought-provoking, aesthetically on-point, and oozing cool. In a series of photographs featuring Hindamme’s Fall 2017 collection, the artists explore motifs of Arab culture and investigate the tension of today’s Middle Eastern identity. Cha’aban describes the project as “a research of how we remix our heritage as well as our customs into one melting pot.” Vogue.me explores the dynamism between the meeting of these three minds…
For those who have gravitated towards Cha’aban’s artistic magnetism on the Kuwaiti art scene, his art direction for this project will be easily identified and perhaps even elicit a “so Cha’aban” comment from his fans. The seemingly normal, everyday poises of his subjects are off-set by the unusual, be it a man crouched down in a fridge (see his collaboration with Nawawi exploring the Nike Air Max ’97 generation), or an edgy neon sign in Arabic, with a closer look revealing a war-torn scene as its background. It’s the juxtaposition of the mundane alongside the shocking that make his work so important in 2018: it makes you think, it makes you talk, it challenges you and, hopefully, it provokes you into nurturing the richness of Middle Eastern culture with millennial progressiveness.
“I came up with the rug imprinted with the word ‘The Arabic Dream;’ a sentimental notion on saturating our traditional patterns with those of the brand; creating this fantasy world of design,” Cha’aban tells Vogue.me. “Calling it ‘The Arabic Dream’ is like walking into an Arabian Disneyland that feels dystopian at times.”
Once again, we see Cha’aban turn to the Persian rug as his centerpiece. It’s his favorite symbol of universal, unpretentious culture in the Arab world. “The idea was to incorporate traditional aesthetics that are always seen in our everyday life into a visual that stands out as timeless.” Among the graffiti-blazoned textiles, retro-fabulous scooter, and models captured by Nawawi in a pregnant pause, you’ll spot Hindamme’s Fall 2017 collection. But this is no lookbook photoshoot. More a meeting of minds. “As three young Arab artists in different fields, this series is a depiction of our dreams to express our Arabic dream,” Khoja tells Vogue.me.
Khoja set up his label, Hindamme, in 2016. Good timing, as the luxury streetwear market reeled into its boom period, with major fashion houses championing bomber jackets and deconstructed off-duty wear that wouldn’t go amiss in skate parks. The Saudi designer successfully integrated striking Sadu prints – geometric design embroidered by Bedouins – onto silky cropped jackets with a unisex appeal. From mint green to carbon black, the bomber jackets could easily sit in the museum of your stylish youth as a sartorial symbol of Eastern and Western cultures in balance. Hindamme has evolved as a brand, offering up tribal-inspired tees, sheer layers, and animal-print tops that require a dose of confidence to wear.
“I feel this work is important as I was able to bring my Sadu pattern jackets to life and visually highlight the meaning behind the patterns and how early Arabs used them as a form of a expression,” explains the Saudi designer. “It’s so refreshing to work with like-minded creatives who are as inspired as I am to create a new Arab design narrative; one that is tied to its roots.”
Related Read: Ali Cha’aban’s first solo exhibit