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Yousuf Jassem Al Darwish
Executive Vice President
Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci’s edgy fall collection has the fashion world buzzing. But he has always staked his career on punking the status quo — challenging notions of sexual identity and class bias with the cut of a skirt. By Andrew O’Hagan. Photograph by Liz Collins.
Sofia Coppola’s own life is the very picture of elegant discretion. Who better to critique a celebrityobsessed generation that overshares and hyperconsumes? By Lee Radziwill. Photographs by Jason Schmidt.
48 Media Report
Chief Fashion Correspondent
Abigail Mathias Ayswarya Murthy Ezdihar Ibrahim Ali
Senior Art Director
Jemima Khan is a political journalist and a budding documentary film producer. Her latest project? Taking on WikiLeaks. By Sarah Lyall. Photographs by Eva Vermandel.
Alice Goes to Arabianland
Deputy Art Director
Hanan Abu Saiam Ayush Indrajith
Assistant Art Director Senior Graphic Designer
Alice Temperley’s Middle East journey is much more fascinating than she anticipated. She goes down memory lane.
55 Climbing Everest
Marketing and Sales
Senior Manager – Marketing
Zulfikar Jiffry Thomas Jose
Assistant Manager – Marketing Media Consultants
Raha Moharrak gives a step-by-step guide to scaling Mount Everest, opening up about her family, the big climb and how her phone hasn’t stopped ringing since she got back home. By Ayswarya Murthy. Photographs by Judith Philip 58
Hassan Rekkab Lydia Youssef
Kanwal Baluch Accountant Pratap Chandran Bikram Shrestha Arjun Timilsina Bhimal Rai Basanta P
Marketing Research & Support Executive
Sr. Distribution Executive Distribution Support
T, The Style Magazine of The New York Times
Editor in Chief
Fashion Director at Large
George Gustines Nadia Vellam
clockwise from top:, Matilda Temperley, JuDITH PHILIP; Liz Collins
Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci in his atelier, in a sweatshirt from his fall 2013 men’s collection. Top: Raha Moharrak is all ready to take the plunge. Right bottom: Campaign images from Alice Temperley’s latest collection.
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T, The New York Times Style Magazine, and the T logo are trademarks of The New York Times Co., NY, NY, USA, and are used under license by Oryx Media, Qatar. Content reproduced from T, The New York Times Style Magazine, copyright The New York Times Co. and/or its contributors 2013 all rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed within T-Qatar are not necessarily those of The New York Times Company or those of its contributors.
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Gary Caesar Jessie Sandler
This and That
A Cultural Compendium
The architect Rafael de Cárdenas has electrified Rivieras, the classic French slip-on, with a sharp new pattern available in four color combos. De Cárdenas says the shoe brand was a natural fit for him. ‘‘I like their form and shape as well as their nod to the ’60s and ’70s French Riviera summer culture,’’ he says. ‘‘I also like that they are called a ‘leisure shoe,’ almost as though wearing them might relax you regardless of whether you’re leisurely or not.’’ QR365
illustration by konstantin kakanias
Not His Father’s Conran Shop
Jasper Conran reinvents the family business.
Since taking over his father’s venerable stores last year, the designer Jasper Conran has been quietly revolutionizing the brand. At the flagship Chelsea location in London, shelves brim with Marie Daâge Limoges porcelain, vintage Blodwen Welsh blankets and linens as crisp as Granny Smith apples. There are edgier home pieces by Maison Martin Margiela, chic-beyond-chic stainless steel kitchens by Alpes Inox and divine cloud sculptures that the artist Benedetta Mori Ubaldini makes out of chicken wire. Conran has also added an entire section dedicated to the sort of children’s goodies — pink roller skates, giant buttons, paper pompoms — that you want to buy regardless of age. In May, he will reopen the Conran Shop’s location in Marylebone, complete with a Penthouse apartment, fully decorated and shoppable, and a roof terrace. ‘‘I love the idea of the store as a magazine,’’ Conran says. ‘‘It’s about highlighting different things, and discovering and showcasing new talent.’’ 81 Fulham Road, London RITA KONIG
bright vision Jasper Conran (right) has added new wares like the Vitra Heart Cone chair, chicken wire sculptures by Benedetta Mori Ubaldini and Marie Daâge teacups.
Issue 20, 2013
conran portrait: julian broad.
This and That Now Booking
Soak In Japan
For centuries, travelers have streamed into Hakone, Japan, to bathe in the bubbling hot springs at traditional ryokans. Kai Hakone, a new high-design hotel and thermal spa on the banks of the Sugumo river, offers a luxuriously modern take on this relaxing tradition. Guests wear chic, black-padded kimonos with their wooden clogs and bob in a series of hot pools that all have views onto pristine woods. Deluxe rooms come with their own little tatami-floored teahouses, and the food — ridiculously fresh sashimi or spring flowers with sesame — is delicate yet nourishing. Bustling Tokyo, reachable in 45 minutes by bullet train, seems a world away. Rooms from about QR1,165 per night; hoshinoresort.com. JULIE EARLE-LEVINE
The Royal Treatment
A grand old pile in Vienna finally opens its doors.
Vienna’s Palais Liechtenstein, one of Europe’s most impressive privately owned palaces, will open for public tours for the first time in May after an extensive restoration. Once the residence of the royal family of Liechtenstein, the Baroque building was bombed during World War II and damaged further when an Allied aircraft crashed into its roof. Its four-year, $135 million face-lift restores the structure to its prewar glory, with a dramatic interior staircase, silk wall hangings and intricate parquet floors. The project was overseen by Hans-Adam II, the reigning prince of the tiny principality — who also owns another commodious palace just outside the city center, where he keeps his noted collection of Old Masters. While some of the revamped building will be marked off for the family’s private apartments, visitors will finally get a peek at many of its gilded Rococo interiors, not to mention the prince’s collection of Biedermeier and neo-Classical art and furnishings. Tours from QR116; palaisliechtenstein.com MICHAEL Z. WISE
Not everyone wants to wear flowery prints and Breton stripes. The solution? Cubism!
HIP TO BE SQUARE Pierre Hardy cuff, QR4,480; Chanel boot, QR4,640; Renaud Pellegrino bag, QR3,386; Peter Hermann; Fendi bag, QR4,333.
T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine
illustrations by konstantin kakanias; vienna: © liechtenstein, the princely collections, vaduz-vienna.
A Slice of Qatar in Harrods
As you make way to the second floor of Harrods, the gentle but mildly intoxicating aroma of the Qatari coffee, the Qahwa, permeates and pulls you to this space; a nook just beyond the bookstore where you can find a slice of Doha. In-Q, an innovative store experience, offers an insight into the diverse culture, arts, and crafts of Qatar. Visitors to In-Q will be able to view and purchase traditional arts and crafts, books, Islamic clothes, jewelry, and merchandise from Qatar’s world-class museums. “The abhayas are quite popular here and get sold out soon,” says the store manager. There will also be a relaxation area serving Arabic coffee with dates and sweets, giving visitors a chance to sample Qatari hospitality and connect with Qatar’s culture. “We aim to offer people a taste of Qatari culture and heritage during their visit to our retail shop in Harrods,” says Mansoor Al Khater, CEO at Qatar Museums Authority. This is the first retail outlet of its kind to be initiated by Qatar Museums Authority abroad. Sindhu Nair
The Feminine Mystique
Rami Al Ali unveiled his Gustav Klimt-inspired A/W Collection during the Paris Couture Fashion Week.
The Syrian-born fashion couturier says that the inspiration for this 26-piece collection was drawn from Klimt’s “Golden Phase”. “I has always admired and related to Klimt’s work, renowned for his focus on the female form,” says Rami.“I also love the aesthetics of his work, with the rich colors and graphical shapes and contours – which is what I found most interesting to transcend into my work. I’ve always loved playing with graphical elements and often infuse my own heritage of arabesque patterns into my designs, so I was excited to continue with this angle but using new inspiratio.” Recently, many Hollywood A-listers have woken up to his designs. Rami says, “So far I’ve been incredibly honored to dress some of the most stunning stars; very recently these have included Beyonce and Kerry Washington, Kelly Rowland, Chanel Iman and Carla Gugino. I would just be happy for this to continue and to see my new collection adorning more beautiful stars on the red carpets of Hollywood.”AYSWARYA MURTHY
Pictures courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Housed in the Tanagra boutique in Villaggio Mall, Lalique recently unveiled its collection to its Doha clientele. From tableware, crystal decorative objects and jewelry to personal items or perfume, Lalique is a name synonymous with French luxury. Florence Bulte, General Manager, Gifts explained the brand’s uniqueness. “Tanagra is the ultimate destination for luxury goods for home decoration, so we are happy to be associated with this brand. Our customers expect uniqueness and we are proud to offer only the most exclusive designs to them.” Lalique was established in 1921; to this day each of Lalique’s pieces is manufactured in eastern France and combines artistry with elegance. Five “Master craftsmen of France” are a part of the company’s workforce comprising 390 employees.
Pictures courtesy of Lalique
Pictures courtesy of Qatar Museums Authority
The Treasure Trunk
The Museum of Islamic Art is a great piece of architecture, and nestled within is a petite chest of collectables.
By DEBRINA ALIYAH PhotographY by Rob Altamirano
Wandering into the gift shop at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) is like a little adventure, akin to discovering a vintage gem of a store with quirky yet functional keepsakes. There are no logo-emblazed fridge magnets, or garishly branded coffee mugs. Instead, the world of Islamic art is presented in an insightful collection of branded products with the story of an association behind each of them. The driving force behind this innovative and clever venture, H E Sheikha Jawaher Bint Abdulaziz Al Thani, Director of
Creative Design for Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), takes us on a private tour into the world behind the process of creating little treasures for the gift shop. H E Sheikha Jawaher has a fascination for everything that is beautiful and exquisite, and it is this passion that drives the perfection in the curation of the gift shop. Armed with a deep understanding and appreciation for art, she works with a team of dedicated artists in offices based in both Doha and Paris. “The objective here is to
T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine
create a gift shop that is completely in tune with the vision of the museum and its exhibits. We want the gift shop to be an extension of the experience of the MIA and not just a store where you can buy standard souvenirs. We wanted our visitors to take with them something that makes the MIA visit special,” she says.. The work of creating this special experience began during the construction of the museum. With the maestro I.M. Pei envisioning the exterior of the MIA going for a stark and severe silhouette, Jean-Michel Wilmotte worked his magic within the interiors to bring forth the Islamic influences with patterns and figures including the design of the gift shop. H E Sheikha Jawaher and her team stepped in to complete the whole story.
History at hand From opposite, clockwise: The interior of the MIA store; Mask Replica of one of the masterpieces at the MIA,on the forehead, there is a cursive inscription, embellished with floral arabesques that recalls the paradise that killed soldiers may have hoped eventually to reach; Stationary with Islamic characters and motifs; prayer beads with Islamic inscriptions; Replica of the cast bronze fountain head-shaped after the form of a hind, female deer.
H E Sheikha Jawaher has a fascination for everything that is beautiful and exquisite, and this passion drives the perfection in the curation of the gift shop.
“The creations of the merchandize is first inspired by the exhibits in the museum. It could be from the permanent collection or from one of the special exhibitions. The idea is to replicate, but also to seek inspiration, translate it into an idea and then produce it in a contemporary manner through our own interpretation. So we seek to make the connection between the past and the present through the items produced. But I have to say, we are quite lucky to have such an extensive collection to work with.” Going through the exhibits, H E Sheikha Jawaher pinpoints what is on-trend at the moment, what ideas would attract the visitors and make them excited, what memories visitors would take away from a specific exhibit and how to bring that to life. After the idea is conceived, the design team then works with the team from the MIA to discuss the viability of the plan to create a coherent story for visitors to take home. The result of this interesting concept is a collection of products that are current, something that appeals to people of all ages. For this season, the gift shop has launched, among other things, a line of stationery items including pencils and notebooks, that follows the Islamic pattern found in the MIA, also similar to
Plexi Bracelet designed by Ilias Lalaounis, a fourthgeneration Greek jeweler for the MIA. Created for the special exhibition of Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts. Inspired by the auspicious inscriptions ornamenting a 15thcentury Timurid oil lamp.
the print-on-print trend seen on the catwalks of Spring/Summer 2013. This is no coincidence, but a deliberate and considered decision to keep up with current trends and visitor choices. The stationery items also have pops of neon colors for the fun element. “I pay a lot of attention to detail. If you look at the notebooks, even the binding has been color-coordinated to match with the rest of the design. I believe that these little details take our products to the next level. And ultimately, they are all very affordable because we want everybody to have a chance to enjoy this experience,” she says.
“We seek to make the connection between the past and present through the collections.”
Ambassadors of MIA: Stationary inspired by Islamic patterns reintepreted with a modern touch reflecting the current fashion’s craze over patterns and motifs.
PRINT MOTIFS: Above, Silk Scarf by Thalassa Collection, with a door knocker motif in the form of an interlaced Arabesque door handle pattern inspired by the Mosul Door Knocker.
The affordability and functionality of the products have made them very popular. The aim is to produce keepsakes that act as important ambassadors for the museum. “When someone who has never been to the museum receives unique gifts like this, they will be curious and there will be the desire to visit the museum to see the exhibits for themselves,” she says. While most of the items in the gift shop changes according to exhibitions and seasons, several popular items have been restocked, including the Mask Replica and Hind Bookend. The Mask Replica is a copy of one of the original exhibits which is one of the masterpieces of the MIA. It was originally attached to a high-ranking soldier’s helmet during the 15th century Ottoman wars while the Hind Bookend is a reinterpreted copy of the cast-bronze fountain head shaped in the form of a female deer from the 10th century. The two items have been bestsellers among both locals and tourists since the opening of the museum. At the moment, other collections at the gift shops include notepads, binders, and coordinated pencil sets from the Orientalist Museum exhibition; luxurious heavy gold notebooks inspired by the 17th-century Jahangir Album from Mughal, India; pillow sets inspired by a 12th-century Iraqi Book of Fixed Stars;and a select edit of special jewelries from designers who drew inspiration from MIA for their collections. H E Sheikha Jawaher’s quest for perfection is evident in the quality of the products and the partnerships she has worked on. She says,“For example, we use Moleskin as our partners for a special notebook featuring I.M. Pei sketches; and we had a special collaboration with Anya Hindmarch to create leather pieces.” In the coming seasons, there are plans for more Qatari artistdriven pieces that will also serve as a platform for the young generation to showcase their work. The MIA gift shop is only the start of things to come for this very talented visionary. The next task at hand is to design the gift shop of the National Museum of Qatar, which is currently being constructed. “Now that we have this experience, we can use this and move on to the other projects. All the other museums under the QMA will have their own concepts and the merchandizing will reflect the individual museum’s vision,” she says
T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine
Anya Bags It All
The British designer wants to have it all in one bag, design perfection and functionality, and gets it too.
By DEBRINA ALIYAH
T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine
Photographs courtESy anya hindmarch
There must be something in the air of London. Or it may be the consequence of years of forward-thinking rebellious sub-culture that we keep witnessing the rise of powerful fashion entrepreneurs who defy the structured and often impenetrable industry. And as a woman Anya Hindmarch, carries the torch in a highly fickle and competitive segment – handbags – but make no mistake, the designer does not want to compete, she wants to rise above it all. There was a pivotal moment in the story of the designer’s eponymous label that cemented the deal with fate. It began with style-makers clutching onto an almost nondescript earthcolor canvas bag emblazoned with the scribble “I Am Not A Plastic Bag”. The canvas bag, a collaboration with a global
social change movement “We Are What We Do”, sold out minutes after it was launched, and caused such a stir in Taiwan that some people were injured angling for one of the bags. The key to a global trend had been turned and suddenly people from all around the world began hearing about Anya Hindmarch (AH), a brand that previously had only been known to the style-setters. That was some six years ago, and fashion editors are clutching something else bearing the signature ribbon emblem of AH these days. Bespoke Fashion Week folios designed exclusively with the personalized hand-embossed initials of their recipients help the editors keep organized during their trips. But the history of Anya Hindmarch goes back before the
2007 mania.The strong-willed designer premiered her first designs some twenty-five years ago. At the age of 19, Anya had her first store in London’s Walton Street, crafting pieces that were inspired by Florence, Italy. Almost three decades later she now has 56 stores globally, including flagships in London and Tokyo, and a special bespoke store on London’s Pont Street. The brand is soon to have a store in Doha too. Creativity is the fundamental of a fashion label, but the engine to drive such far-reaching business growth demands something more, especially as Anya Hindmarch is still a privately-owned label. “I am obsessed with bags,” says Anya, adding that the craftsmanship, the details involved and the whole process excites her so much that she takes inspiration from everything around. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs so it has always been ingrained in me to pursue my passion and set up my own business even though it really is a very competitive industry,” she says.
what she can do in this new emerging market. Having earlier collaborated with the Museum of Islamic Art to produce a customized line of leather goods for the museum’s gift shop, Anya is fascinated by the growth of the country. “I have only had one trip to Doha so far but it was fascinating. The combination of cutting-edge style and architecture with old-fashioned warmth was very memorable. Our collaboration with the MIA was to bring our iconic labeled pieces, known by many Qataris who travel, but with a special emphasis on incorporating the traditional colors and emblems.” Anya believes Qatar will be a key market in the
The support of the family continues with her husband James Seymour, now managing financial matters for the label. A retrospective of the collections by Anya reveals the creative success formula of the label. Here, there are bags that are exceptionally stylish and functional, almost as if each bag had been carefully designed to meet these two elements cohesively. While functionality is something many creatives abhor for fear of devaluing the design quotient of their work, Anya seamlessly brings in her own quirky touch while maintaining the utility. “I am a mother, wife and businesswomen and I also like to have fun so I design with all these roles in mind,” she says. Anya feels that bags can really make a difference to how a woman feels and the different roles she plays. “My mother gave me my first designer handbag when I was 15 and I will always remember the feeling that it gave me,” she says. “I like my designs to have a sense of humor and an element of fun for the seasonal mainline collections, which does set us apart from other brands. I love the fact that our collections are not just about a fashion season but about sealing a moment in time,” she says. With the arrival of the label’s first point of sale here in Qatar, Anya is already thinking ahead of
Creative energy: Anya at her work space; the bags featured are from her Autumn/Winter collection.
Middle East for the label, and they are hoping that they will be able to move beyond into opening a flagship store and to bring their bespoke services to the market. But of course, these are busy times for Anya. “Our New York flagship opens in August and is a really exciting step for the brand.” Anya Hindmarch is a premier and bespoke accessories label stocked by the world’s leading stores and worn by celebrities including Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, the Duchess of Cambridge and Angelina Jolie. In 2009, Anya Hindmarch was awarded an MBE in recognition of her contribution to the British fashion industry as well as further responsibilities including: UK Trade Ambassador, non-executive director of the British Fashion Council and trustee of both The Royal Academy and the Design Museum. She was also awarded the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award in April 2012. The first ever Anya Hindmarch London Fashion Week show took place in February 2012
Anya Hindmarch is now available at 51 East department store in Lagoona Mall. The label will start off with a capsule collection of key pieces and special orders will be available. Anya Hindmarch is represented by Al Mana Emerging Brands International in Qatar.
Having generously tested almost all the concoctions
that were available in the Amouage showroom in Oman, and smelling like a cross between an elegant Arabian princess and a pot of flower hodgepodge, we got into our ride, and the driver, with his clean nose, smiled at us discerningly. He named a few of the scents and then went on to give his own recommendation of his favorite bouquet from Amouage, including some base notes and key ingredients. Oman’s indigenous perfumery has clearly made headway among the people of Oman and was more a matter of pride than pure olfactory knowledge to the locals. On the little intimate tour of Amouage’s six-month-old factory and visitors center in Muscat, a newly-revived romance with the art of perfumery emerges. Bottles of distilled ingredients line the walls, attentive perfumers carefully inspecting their work of liquid magic, and the genuinely pleasurable air of appreciation among the staff is such a far cry from the sterile lab where one can imagine modern-day beauty products are made. The factory, which is really more like a craft workshop, hand-makes about 20,000 bottles a week from the beginning right till the polishing of the bottle before it gets packed into its beautifully designed box. As a consumer, the choice is pretty obvious. Why spend the same amount of money on a factory-line product when you can get it lovingly made by hand? In all honesty, as even the Creative Director of Amouage, Christopher Chong, admits, everyone is making fragrances these days. But while most are selling a lifestyle and harping on about base notes and key scents,
Amouage Breaks Arabian Traditions
An Omani perfumery goes global and enters markets hitherto unknown to traditional olfactory producers.
By DEBRINA ALIYAH
T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine
images courtesy Amouage
Amouage rises above all this, bringing forth first heritage and then a cultivation of olfactory knowledge. “Perfumes don’t work the same on everyone. In East Asia, we don’t come from a culture of wearing perfume and we use it in moderation. You learn the spots and the highlights to make it work. It is all about education,” he says. There is no oud in Amouage’s repertoire, and there are no distinctive Arabian essences. If traces linger, they are mere coincidences. The house is firm on its positioning; it
FATE The new fragrance, Fate, for both men and women, features a base of a rich and velvety blend of frankincense, oakmoss and leather. The fragrances are presented in Amouage’s iconic clear glass-crystal bottles with a rainbow undertone, with gold-plated caps accented with an aurora borealis-inspired Swarovski crystal. Amouage is available at Fifty One East and Paris Gallery. Fate completes the first cycle narrative of a fragrance collection that includes Gold, Dia, Ciel, Reflection, Silver, Ubar, Jubilation, Lyric, Epic, Memoir, Honor, Interlude and Beloved.
There is no oud in Amouage’s repertoire, and there are no distinctive Arabian essences and if traces linger, they are mere coincidences.
is a brand established in Oman but it is an international fragrance producer, drawing deep on bouquets that have layers of culture embedded in them. Its perfumes are often complex, not the run-of-the-mill cheery spritz at your local department store. One is almost invited to rise to the challenge of identifing with the perceptive work of Chong. The creative soul himself is a great pragmatic vehicle for the house, their relationship now firmly validated with the release of Fate, the final perfume in Amouage’s first-cycle narrative. “They love me, they accept me, and I think it’s just because I am honest,” he says of his work with the house. Chong’s fiery and quirky personality is definitely not typical of one associated with a traditional Arabian business set-up, with thoughts of redecorating the brand’s HQ with furnishings from Toys ‘R’ Us. “Offices shouldn’t be boring. I want to send remote cars and helicopters into people’s office to cheer them up, to give them inspiration. Many might think that I am crazy, but I’m not apologetic about my fantasies. We have to move forward. I am a perfectionist and need everyone to be the best. Sometimes it’s difficult but when you push again and again, you realize people will rise to the occasion.” It has been seven years since Chong took the creative helm, and he prides himself being the biggest salesperson in the company. The brand has been well represented, with an expanding global influence because of his media-savvy and no-holds-barred personality. “The relationship is very important, and it is mutually beneficial. I mean, look at Karl Lagerfeld and what he did for Chanel. The quilted bag was such a fuddy-duddy thing that nobody wanted, and now look at it! Everyone is clamoring to buy one! What Alber Elbaz did to Lanvin? They gave new life to the brands. Raising the profile means higher profits and margins; so it was a smart move for Amouage to push forward with a creative director, and yes, I may look like a glamorous genius concocting perfumes but I am also the brand’s biggest salesperson,” he says unabashedly. With Chong’s Far Eastern roots, the house is now breaking into new territories. They have been on a whirlwind tour to capitals including Singapore, Taipei and Hong Kong, and it is evident that the international approach towards their concoctions has won many fans. “The Far East and Asian market received us so well. Nobody is expecting to smell anything arabesque in the perfumes. We are educating them, and opening new markets. We want to break all stereotypes and frontiers of what Amouage should be.” Naturally, the next chapter of the new narrative will take place on this global stage. The concept behind the closing chapter, Fate, is one that explores the uncertainty of the future and the mysticism of the unknown. But perhaps now we have an answer. “It will be a new story merging Arab and Chinese cultures, bringing them together. It’s me and Amouage. This will be the new frontier, the coming together of two new powerful forces in the world,” says Chong
The Vintage Princess
Raya Al Khalifa collects vintage costume jewelry specifically, but her outlook on fashion rings more impressively.
By DEBRINA ALIYAH Photographs by ANGEL MALLARI Makeup by DEBI MENDEZ
Raya in her precious Ciner set circa 1970s-1980s Ciner cuffs.
aya Al Khalifa makes her presence felt with her exotic beauty and effervescent personality, which seem to radiate and fill the space she is in. She speaks with an intense passion that makes you fall deeply in love with the subject, in this case, vintage costume jewelry. Her immense recognition and knowledge of vintage jewelry was cultivated early by the devotion and passion for jewelry through generations of women in her family. Looking into the past has shaped her deep appreciation for fashion in the present. There is no blind jostling for the latest trends, but instead a deliberate and educated choice from the best of the season. On a new Oscar de la Renta gown purchase, she remarks: “It is the versatility that appealed to me. It is a gown perfect for special occasions or even a casual jaunt if I just throw a denim shirt over it.” Many women would think thrice about jaunting casually in an Oscar gown, but that’s a story for another day. Expalining her style sense, Raya says, “I like the democratization of fashion in modern times. Fashion should not be elitist. I love and appreciate haute couture and high-end offerings, but as Gianni Versace famously mentioned, fashion is often influenced from subcultures and that inspires designers. This is evident when you review the couture works of houses like Chanel and Givenchy. Fashion is a form of art, and art is a language for all. I do love trends but I appreciate and collect classics. And ever since I became a mother, I have been less serious and more adventurous. It is about having fun and feeling comfortable. I get easily distracted by beautiful things, whether it is an Oscar de la Renta gown or a covetable jacket from Zara.” And indeed, the democratization of fashion is now the hotbed discussion in the industry. Luxury labels have had a long struggle keeping up with the fast revolutions of social media while watching sales slide. Newer brands that are quick to adapt, including Kate Spade and Michael Kors, have jumped on the bandwagon and successfully expanded their empires
T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine
through internet globalization. Social media and use of the Internet have made fashion more available to the masses. With her love for classics, one might assume Raya would abhor this fast paced revolution. But she surprises us yet again. Raya, an avid Instagram and Twitter user sharing her style inspirations, is all for this movement. “I love it,” she says, “There is definitely a broader scope now and you may see people wearing more of a particular item. In Qatar, it is now not uncommon to see a few ladies wearing the same dress at a wedding or event. In the long run, I find designers are able to garner a wider demographic with the Internet. Marchesa, for example, has been a favorite of mine for a while now. I would often try to order a dress but be told it would not go into production after their fashion week presentation because it would not sell in America, where shoppers prefer cocktail dresses. But the globalization of fashion has made it now possible for them to reach beyond just one market, which is great news. Oscar de la Renta is another great example of a classic ‘ladies who lunch’ label that has now attracted new, younger and edgier customers. This is mostly from their online presence, and if you really look at it, the designs have not changed, just the marketing approach.” Raya has spent a large portion of her life in London, and since her marriage to a Qatari, Doha has become home for this gorgeous mother of two. Naturally, the subject of the abaya comes up. While she never wore the cultural garment growing up, she embraces the new look, going against the prejudice that people in the West have towards this cultural garment. “Many friends thought I would loathe it, but it is a preservation of culture and heritage rather than degradation of women. Nobody ever considers the plain white thobe worn by men as an issue, so why the abaya? Women can stylize their abayas like a blank canvas with accessories. I wear mine with statement necklaces and bangles. There is nothing more chic than a flowing abaya, where you can wear pajamas under and still look stylish. It is a total savior for morning school runs, and last-minute dinners. I actually feel free,” says Raya. And in the same approach, she feels that Middle Eastern values do not place any hurdles when playing catch-up with the fast-moving global fashion industry. With the growth of notable regional designers, many are charging forward with their own style, which often reflects perspectives from their own Middle Eastern origins. “Fashion is always evolving, but with the help of social media and new ambitious talent, we are really building a wide portfolio of fantastic designers in the region, who now have the opportunity to sell beyond their immediate location. A few favorites of mine at the moment are Toujouri (Qatar), Razan Al Azzouni (Saudi Arabia), and most recently I have been eyeing Madiyah Al Sharqi (UAE).” Raya’s grandmother was probably the first catalyst to her obsession with collecting vintage jewelry. Her grandmother would tell her the stories behind the jewels that she owned, giving the pieces a deeper meaning and a mysterious life. The stories and jewel assimilation continued with Raya’s mother, and it created a deep connection for the women to their past, and honed their taste for antique aesthetics. In a systematically labeled and organized jewelry closet, Raya painstakingly keeps track of each and every precious piece in her collection. She knows by heart where each individual piece is located, and they are lovingly housed in dust bags. “That love for real jewels, including Cartier art deco
The enamel link bracelet is unsigned, from 1970s
1970s D’Orlan Pendant Necklace with materials of enamel and crystal. Raya is wearing an Oscar de la Renta gown with a Topshop denim shirt.
Hattie Carnegie elephant necklace from the estate of the late Brooke Astor paired with contemporary Graff earrings.
1940s paste brooch and a 1950s paste necklace
Raya sharing a light moment with make-up artist Debi Mendez, whom she met through society weddings.
Jomaz hammered gold and crystal set,late 1970s
diamond bracelets and Van Cleef & Arpels’ 1970s gold pendants with malachite and rich onyx, grew into a passion for vintage jewelry. We would go to antique markets and over the years, began collecting them. There are some really serious collectors and dealers in the West. We used to buy a lot of deco paste pieces and 1950s beaded heavier baubles.” From a budding interest, Raya and her mother quickly learnt, as the collection grew, and these pieces, just like her grandmother’s jewels came with their own histories. “We became rather knowledgeable on signed pieces from renowned designers of different eras and knew their significance. Some worked at large jewelry houses like Cartier but saw more financial security in creating costume jewelry that was coveted by high society ladies, Hollywood stars and royalty who wanted to accessorize without bringing out their real jewels,” she says,“I now actively sourced for signed pieces, though a lot of famous craftsmen never stamped items that were one-off commissions as props for Hollywood. You can really learn a lot and understand the origins of a piece from the materials used. For example, during the war, designers had to use different metals due to lack of resources or because it was difficult to find paste pieces that were signed.” The private collection is now, one to envy, for those who understand the intricacies of the trade. While Raya does wear some of the pieces, most of the collection remains in her closet to be admired over time. After having her second child, she began investing in larger signed pieces to complement her new wardrobe. “I needed to let go of some items to make room, but felt a responsibility
Raya is wearing a vintage Christian Dior set with Chanel gold cuffs.
While many in the region are accustomed to big names like Chanel, Raya is keen to introduce other prominent brands that were cherished and worn by style icons including the Duchess of Windsor and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Raya talking about the vintage Jomaz gold and crystal set.
1930s-1940s paste dress clips and a deco paste bracelet
for preserving them. So I decided to sell them and go into the trade, but I wanted to introduce it to the Middle East. I feel the time is right, as a lot of people are starting to appreciate ‘vintage’,” she says. While many in the region are accustomed to big names like Chanel, Raya is keen to introduce other prominent brands that were cherished and worn by style icons including the Duchess of Windsor and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. “My favorite pieces are usually from Ciner, a small familyrun business that stopped producing in the 1980s. Elizabeth Taylor, who we all know was into breathtaking jewels, often wore pieces from this brand. All the pieces were made by hand with glamour and luxury at the forefront of their designs. In Raya’s collection, she has a gorgeous set of threetiered cuffs with red and white baguette-shaped and roundcut crystals decorated with blue cabochons from Ciner. It is a stunning piece of art that always gets the conversation going,” says Raya. In the coming months, Raya will be having private exhibitions to show her precious treasures and perhaps part ways with some. But more importantly, she wants to create a new shift towards the comprehension that costume jewelry is just as exciting as real gems. “Costume jewelry is intertwined with the biggest fashion houses. Coco Chanel pioneered easier dress styles for women but encouraged accessorizing with faux bits and baubles. The careless look of a few strands of pearls and giant cuffs symbolized her modern approach. Costume jewelry has been showcased with the most extravagant couture creations. Desrues in Paris has been producing since the 1920s for Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent as well as Christian Dior, and today they are still creating pieces for Chanel. Oscar de la Renta still makes their costume jewelry by skilled craftsmen diligently creating moulds that whimsical bijoux baubles are produced from.”
T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine