Irthi offers Emirati crafts with modern twist - GulfToday

Irthi offers Emirati crafts with modern twist


Visitors at the Middle East launch of Guerlain’s new fragrance ‘Cuir Intense’ at Perfume House and Poetry House in Al Shindagha Museum in Dubai.

Sohaila Ahmed, Staff Reporter

Women artisans of the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council (Irthi), an affiliate of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), created unique bracelets made with camel leather using traditional weaving techniques at the Middle East launch of Guerlain’s new fragrance ‘Cuir Intense’ at Perfume House and Poetry House in Al Shindagha Museum in Dubai.

The launch event, which had around 80 attendees, saw several VIP guests, international bloggers and influencers and Guerlain international staff and board members.

Keeping in line with the Council’s mandate to develop and enhance crafts in the region, two artisans from Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme in Dibba Al Hisn, in the emirate of Sharjah, incorporated techniques from the traditional craft of Safeefah using leather.

While Safeefah originally relies on dried palm-frond weaving, this time, the women brought in a fresh twist to the traditional Emirati craft, using sustainably-sourced camel leather to create unique bracelets, embracing an innovative approach to the traditional craft. Aligning with the perfumer’s powerful wood and leather notes, the Safeefah leather bracelets also contributed to the theme.

The artisans then helped guests make their own bracelets, using dark brown and gold leather strips applying the “sayer yay” technique, meaning “back and forth” in the local Emirati dialect. It is one of the basic weaving patterns used in traditional Emirati crafts, an elementary way to introduce people to the art of weaving.

A wooden wall display, placed at the venue, also showcased several readymade bracelets.

Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment said: “It is a great opportunity for Irthi’s artisans to showcase Emirati heritage at Guerlain’s launch for its newest orient inspired perfume, Cuir Intense.”

BinKaram added: “Irthi supports the preservation and modernisation of traditional crafts, through skills development and training, forging international partnerships and creating showcase opportunities for our artisans. International brands are becoming increasingly interested in traditional elements, be it crafts, arts, or scents, that reflect the values and customs of societies, and we take pride in Irthi’s contribution to strengthening our cultural ties with the world.”

Irthi Contemporary Craft Council (Irthi), a NAMA Women Advancement Establishment affiliate, recently announced the third edition of its flagship fashion entrepreneurs programme, “Azyame,” which is conducted in partnership with the esteemed London College of Fashion. Emirati women designers, who have produced at least two full original collections, and can commit to the one-year programme are welcome to apply. The deadline for applications is May 20, 2019.

This third edition of Azyame will be led by founder and Director of TNM Consultancy Ltd, Toby Meadows, who is a Visiting Lecturer at the London College of Fashion. Meadows also leads award-winning London based cult women’s wear designer label “Belle & Bunty,” and has authored “How to Set up & Run a Fashion Label,” currently translated into nine different languages.

Ten successful applicants will be selected to participate in a series of workshops between June 16-21 2019, which will shed light on the basics of starting a fashion label, how to uniquely interpret new trends for one’s own business and champion innovation, and guide participants to understanding the dynamics of ethical and sustainable practices in the fashion business, and how to forge authentic creative partnerships with local craftspeople.  These workshops will be followed by a mix of face-to-face mentoring sessions in Sharjah, and online video conferencing with Meadows, between July 2019 and March 2020, that are customised to match the development of each participant, and where the participants can cover any topic they need assistance with, such as coming up with design concepts, pricing, and business structure.

Azyame’s alumni over the past two editions have been supported by Irthi to showcase their collections at Paris Fashion Week 2018, a trunk show in Sao Paulo, and a two-month pop up store at Fenwick of Bond Street in London.