Bahraini Designer Lulwa Al Amin on Her New Digital Approach
Since launching her e-commerce platform in May 2017, Bahraini designer Lulwa Al Amin has filled her online store with bold new collections, relocated from London back to Bahrain, and created a unique space for creative collaboration. Using the concept of oscillating ‘window displays’ from her very own digital universe, the designer conceptualizes unique stories with artists and emerging names from the region and beyond. Naturally, these projects are plugged into new collections from her Lulu Al Amin brand and showcases the designer’s sartorial whimsy in a range of different mediums: photography, film, and even baking.
“The change in the digital world made it no longer necessary for brands to be based in a fashion capital,” Al Amin tells Vogue Arabia. Indeed the digital world has changed the landscape for most major brands, enabling more visibility for emerging labels and requiring a dialogue between storied houses and the customer, in an unprecedented way. Early adopters to social media platforms, such as Topshop Unique and Burberry, have found digital solutions for retaining the interest of its clientele and closing the waiting list for collection drops in store with see-now-buy-now fresh from the runway.
A pillar of Burberry’s new digital initiative, Instagram is the brand’s window display to the world. American-Palestinian models and siblings, Gigi and Anwar Hadid model in the new campaign for the British brand. @Burberry | Instagram
With the dawn of the digital age, customers want to buy into the lifestyle of the brand, peek behind the once closed doors of the maisons, relate to the ethos of the company in a sequence of Snapchats, and adore the designers at the helm. Gucci‘s Alessandro Michele is a classic case in point. Since his appointment in 2015, the design maestro and his 204K of Instagram followers and 16+million brand followers have created a cultural stratosphere of all things Gucci–from homeware to travel apps, fur-lined Princetown slippers, and oversized jewel-encrusted sunglasses. Gucci enjoyed a 21% rise in sales in the fourth quarter of 2016 with over 4.3 million euros being made for the Kering Group’s biggest name. Gucci’s traction on social media is a driving force behind its success.
The Italian brand showcases its new collections and diffusion projects via its @Gucci Instagram account.
Instagram has also given a platform for regional designers, Al Amin reflects. “Most industry professionals and customers focused on international designers rather than supporting regional ones. However with social media, this has all changed. It exposed Middle Eastern designers and [regional] styles to a worldwide audience.” With her digital-first ethos now in place, Al Amin’s approach is not just focused on getting the collection spot-on, but also considers how to make it resonate with her audience, and indeed broaden her customer base.
Social platforms have proven to be a viable source of market research for Al Amin. “I learned that most customers loved my clothing, but they would only use them for special occasions due to the delicate textiles I was using and the higher prices. They wanted everyday pieces in my prints that required easier care at a reasonable cost. That was when Lulu Al Amin was born.” The brand’s diffusion line is now available via its online store but in the beginning the designer launched it at a pop-up event. “During the first 15 minutes I sold out almost 70% of the collection. Social media allowed me to interact with my clients and deliver to them what they wanted. The next step was to make my brand available to my worldwide clientele. A digital store was the answer.”
The Bahraini designer is uniquely placed to bridge a gap between East and West aesthetics with her laissez-faire flair. Al Amin’s fashion CV includes working with Matthew Williamson and Browns and graduating from the highly-reputed Central Saint Martins. Now, the designer enlists people in her social orbit to reinterpret her designs with art, photography, and film projects. Dubai-based photographer Mashael Al Saie and Reem Fakhro of Bakery Blissful Temptations were the first to join the Lulwa Al Amin ‘window displays.’ Al Amin’s sister Maryam joins the fold this week with a short video that explores the high summer Lulu Al Amin collection. “Maryam has always had a love for theater. It was interesting to see how my collection inspired her to create the most magical setting,” Al Amin tells Vogue Arabia. “I have a long list of talents I want to work with, and I look forward to introducing them to my customers and the world.” Watch the video collaboration above.
Lulu Al Amin is available online via Lulwaalamin.com
Go Behind-the-Scenes with Karolina Kurkova at Balmain
“I am so happy and excited to be in Paris for the Balmain show,” said supermodel and international Vogue cover star Karolina Kurkova. The model rocketed into the fashion stratosphere aged just 18 after Miuccia Prada tapped her for a special contract with Miu Miu. In 2001, Steven Meisel photographed the rising star for her very first Vogue cover. A Victoria’s Secret contract and a Model of the Year title soon followed.
As Kurkova joins the Olivier Rousteing‘s #BalmainArmy alongside Natasha Poly, Anna Seleznva, Vanessa Moddy, Daniela Braga, and Luna Bijl for the Spring 2018 show, she shares with photographer Jacques Burga and Vogue.me her #PFW daily diary. From pre-show hair prep with hair maestro Sam McKnight to slipping into a statement Balmain frock (with a little help), see what happened on the day of the model’s runway return.
Prior to heading to the runway, Kurkova shares her go-to Paris destinations with Burga and name checks her favorite Arab designers.
What’s in your little black book for Paris?
“Season for the Food – it’s my favorite healthy/vegan spot. Also, L’Ecume des Pages at Saint German, a beautiful library. The Park Hyatt for Fashion Week and Nabil Salon from Balmain Couture.”
When you’re not working what are you doing?
“When I don’t work, I love to make yummy food for my family; exercise, and dance with my kids.”
Favorite show in Paris?
“Balmain by Olivier Rousteing.”
Favorite L’Oreal x Balmain lipstick color?
“It’s called Freedom!”
Places to visit in the Middle East?
“I would love to discover the deserts to find the perfect place for a photoshoot.”
Where are you heading next?
“Tomorrow, I am back to my Miami where my kids are.”
41 Questions with Amina Khalil
Amina Khalil’s star is well and truly on the rise. The Egyptian actor, who featured in the inaugural September issue of Vogue Arabia (on shelves now), is ruling the red carpets while promoting the recently premiered film El Khaliya (The Cell), in which she stars. The movie, which was released on August 29, has so far raked in a staggering 10 million Egyptian pounds in box offices across Egypt, drawing in fans from all over the country during the Eid weekend. Considering her 1.4 million Instagram followers alone, we can certainly expect those digits to double in no time. A flick through the actor’s portfolio, you’ll find the 28-year-old has a number of achievements including five successful TV series — such as an Egyptian adaptation of Spanish series “Grand Hotel,” three major movies which premiered/are premiering this year alone, and being tapped as Fashion Prize 2016 accessories winner Okhtein’s brand ambassador. In a rapid-fire series of 41 questions, Khalil offers up some advice to her younger self (“everything works out in the end”), reveals her biggest fears (“failure and sadness”), and tells us what role she hopes to play next (we’re not going to spoil that one for you). Watch the full video ahead.
Maha Abdul Rasheed of Bambah on Conservative Dressing
Bambah launched on to the Dubai scene with its carefully curated, high-end vintage boutique under the sharp eye of Maha Abdul Rasheed. After a few years as the leading destination for elegant pre-loved pieces, Rasheed took to the design studio and launched Bambah. The collection is now stocked on Farfetch and captures the classical glamour and ardor for the sharp silhouettes of the 1950s. Appliqué and oversized florals are a sartorial signature for the UAE-based designer.
As Rasheed shares with Vogue.me a striking video about her biggest style inspiration – her mother – we speak to the modest style pioneer about key tips for dressing on-point and find out what’s around the corner for the breakout brand.
How do you handle the nuances of women’s attire being striking yet conservative?
I think it all comes down to the woman’s character and how she carries herself. I strongly believe that modesty and fashion can co-exist and there are no limits to how you can make them both work. We are surrounded with the concept of modesty and it’s just about using your creativity and imagination in making it work the way you see fit.
What key style tips did you learn from your mother?
#1: Easy does it. When it comes to choosing outfits and layering clothes, I’ve learned from my mom that simplicity is king! She always tells me to wear the clothes and not let the clothes wear me.
#2: Softly, softly. Opt for light colors and soft linens, as they work very well together and are well suited for any occasion – whether a boardroom meeting or a night out with friends.
#3: Color co-ord. Always choose colors and textures that sit well together and complement your complexion and body shape.
#4: Accessorize! My mom always accessorized with elegant pieces, such as pearl necklaces, glamorous shoes, and nice rings to complete the look.
#5: Dress in comfort and confidence. My mom told me that whether you’re getting dressed in the morning to start the day or at night to begin your evening, you should remember to choose outfits that make you comfortable in who you are so you radiate confidence. Nothing looks better than a woman dressed in confidence. If your heels are too high and hurt your feet, don’t wear them.
#6: Be effortless. Don’t get lost by being surrounded with so many beautiful clothes and don’t put in too much effort trying to look good. She always tells me to dress for myself and not for anyone else; to move a lot, laugh a lot, and always have fun being who I am.
What is in the pipeline for the brand in 2017?
We’re very excited to be launching our SS18 in September, which was inspired by Jaipur, the Pink city in India. We’re also collaborating with an Indian shoe designer to launch a limited-edition capsule collection inspired by our trip to India.
Bambah’s Fall 2017 collection is available to purchase online now, entitled The Romance of Josephine. Bambah Boutique is located on The Boulevard, City Walk 2 in Building 13, Dubai, and available online.
Behind-the-Scenes: Nelly Karim and Hend Sabry’s Vogue Shoot
Ramadan TV stars Nelly Karim and Hend Sabry feature in Vogue Arabia’s June issue, titled Celebrating Identity with cover star Halima Aden, in a fashion shoot on location in Cairo at the Mena House Hotel. Go behind-the-scenes to see the screen stars make their Vogue debut. To find out more about the pearls of Arab drama, subscribe to get our latest issue as they talk ballet, late nights, and how to achieve work-life balance.
Direction: Photo Boutique Egypt
Photography: Shahira Zaki
Cinematography: Nazly Abou Seif
Cinematography Assistant: Marwan Morsy
Styling: Maissa Azab and Sahar.M.Azab
Make-up: Soraya Shawky
Hair: Mohamed AlSagheer Salons
Soundtrack: Osiris By Hossam Ramzy
Location: Mena House Hotel