Art

Saudi Interior Architect and Designer Nouf AlMoneef on Riyadh’s Progressive Cultural Landscape

Saudi Interior Architect and Designer Nouf AlMoneef on Riyadh’s Progressive Cultural Landscape

Nouf AlMoneef wearing a dress from Pinko, with bracelets by David Yurman. Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Tasneem AlSultan
Art, design, and culture
Nouf AlMoneef is part of the fabric of Saudi Arabia’s thriving art and cultural scene, as project manager of Noor Riyadh. She has a background in design, with a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Prince Sultan University in Riyadh and an MFA in interior architecture from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “I have experience working in the Saudi private and public sectors, as well as running my own private studio,” she says.
Wearing a Norma Kamali dress with Dalood blazer. Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Tasneem AlSultan
Witnessing change
As a Saudi national, AlMoneef’s upbringing exposed her to her homeland’s progressing social scene, specifically regarding women’s affairs. “I grew up in Riyadh during at a time when the social norms were completely different from today. I witnessed and was part of the dramatic changes in society impacting womens’ status, as well as culture, arts, and entertainment,” she says. Today, AlMoneef works to further empower Riyadh’s rich cultural glories, including landmarks such as AlUla, which she considers her favorite cultural go-to. As she explores different destinations around the world, she dives deeper into her field and unlocks new interests along the way. “In my current job, which is related to art, I came to appreciate it and have collected art works from Saudi Arabia and all around the world,” she shares.
Nouf AlMoneef. Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Tasneem AlSultan
Life in color
When dressing and accessorizing, AlMoneef looks to brands both in the region and abroad to offer a pop of color to her look. A black Norma Kamali dress serves as a solid base for bright layers. A pair of fuchsia tie-up heels by The Attico and a slick of Gucci lipstick offer further edge, along with accessories like an Okhtein bag or David Yurman bangles. If an event or her mood calls for higher octane glamour, she will opt for a pussy bow sequin shirt.
Shoes by The Attico
Light and style
AlMoneef’s current mood board suggests accents of light art and fashion, hence her philosophy for style is “simplicity and elegance.” “Personal style to me is to add the colors, the accessories to match my own preferences and outgoing personality,” she says. While AlMoneef likes to keep it simple, her curiosity shines through with statement cuts and fabrics. She makes a case for unique abayas and trench coats as she flaunts them with accents of culture and modernity. “My abaya selections for the past couple of events and travels were from Nora Al Shaikh’s collection. Her abayas are authentic, and culture related with a modern twist.”
A bustling day
AlMoneef tunes into a playlist that throws her back to the 90s with music that sparks nostalgia for her childhood and charges her for the day. Her typical day starts with a quick workout at the gym, followed by a lively schedule that keeps her busy until 8pm. Sometimes her responsibilities expand beyond her government set working hours and require her presence at art-related sites in Riyadh. “I also attend art events related to my field of work. Therefore, managing time is essential,” she shares.
Mykonos
Wanderlust
From exploring Europe and Asia’s vast repositories of art to soaking up the Middle East’s charm, AlMoneef enjoys traveling to different parts of the world where she can fulfill her eye for design. Of course, nothing beats an itinerary of sightseeing and hopping to various museums and art galleries. “I particularly like the metropolitan cities and the historical places in Spain and Italy,” she says, while these photos were captured in Greece.
An Okhtein bag. Vogue Arabia, June 2022. Photo: Tasneem AlSultan
Power drive
After checking off her professional duties, AlMoneef devotes the last hours of her day to her family. Yet, despite her daily schedule of demanding responsibilities and activities, AlMoneef remains driven and charged by surrounding herself with positivity and appreciating the work of her colleagues. Whether at her studio, office, or an art event, AlMoneef manages to power through her role by following a motto of “taking it easy, and playing by the rules of the game.”
Originally published in the June 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia
Read Next: Meet the Saudi Women Helping the Kingdom’s Art Scene Get the World’s Attention

Discover Hubert de Givenchy’s Exceptional Collection of Furniture and Artworks Before its Auction

Discover Hubert de Givenchy’s Exceptional Collection of Furniture and Artworks Before its Auction

Ahead of its upcoming auction, Hubert de Givenchy’s exceptional collection of furniture and artworks from his two homes displays the meticulous eye and impeccable taste of the French couturier.
Hubert de Givenchy. Photo: Victor Skrebneski
“Fashion changes, but the 18th century style will endure, as it is of exceptional quality,” Hubert de Givenchy (1927-2018) once said, adding that it be kept light and fresh with contemporary art. The French couturier, who opened his fashion house in 1952, in Paris, and dressed the most elegant women of the late 20th century – among them Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Mona von Bismarck, and the Duchess of Windsor – had always been fascinated by art. He considered it an extension of his own work while also expressing himself through the decor of his own interiors. “I try to achieve harmony between architecture, decoration, and color,” he said. The exceptional furniture and art collection of Monsieur de Givenchy will now be auctioned by Christie’s next month, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Monsieur de Givenchy’s first haute couture collection, presented in the French capital in 1952. The auction proceeds will go to the family.
At 17, de Givenchy – who was born in Beauvais into an aristocratic family of Venetian origin – moved to the capital, where he studied at the Beaux-Arts de Paris. Throughout his life, he was influenced by the creative legacy of his great-grandfather, who designed stage sets for the Paris Opera, and his grandfather, who was the administrator of the Beauvais Tapestry Factory as well as an avid collector. “My uncle started his collection as soon as he started making money from his fashion company,” explains James de Givenchy. “He was a true collector. He loved acquiring and surrounding himself with objects, furniture, and artworks. It was when he was the happiest.”
Hôtel d’Orrouer. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
Representing more than 1 200 lots, the fine arts and decorative pieces are drawn from two of Monsieur de Givenchy’s most elegant homes: the Hôtel d’Orrouer in Paris and the Château du Jonchet in the Loire Valley that the family still treasures. “Jonchet is our uncle’s most important chef d’oeuvre,” says James de Givenchy. “It is an enormous endeavor we are taking on. Hubert used to say, ‘It is not all to like a house, the house has to like you back.’ Le Jonchet loved him, and it was reciprocal. We hope we can continue being lovely to her.”
A broad variety of periods and styles characterize the pieces on sale, reflecting Hubert de Givenchy’s personal interests. Among them is the bronze Woman Walking (estimate on request) by the couturier’s friend and collaborator Alberto Giacometti, which was a gift to de Givenchy from the great American collector Bunny Mellon – a client who became a very close friend. Also included are Passage of the Migratory Bird (€2 500 000-3 500 000) by Joan Miró and Faun with a Spear (€1 500 000-2 000 000) by Pablo Picasso, as well as Bacchus (€1 500 000-2 500 000) attributed to François Girardon and a gilt bronze center table (€400 000-600 000) by Martin-Guillaume Biennais. Other objects and furniture that celebrate the golden age of French design in the 18th century are also available.
Château du Jonchet. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
“Hubert de Givenchy was fascinated by chairs of any sort and there must be over 100 in the sale,” notes Cécile Verdier, president of Christie’s France. “For Hubert de Givenchy, the chair is also a formidable medium for expressing himself through the choice of fabrics used to dress them. The finest leathers are said to have been embroidered by Monsieur de Givenchy’s glove makers, as on a series of Louis XV period armchairs à la Reine with leather and suede upholstery in three colors.” (Estimate €100 000-200 000 for the six armchairs). As part of a worldwide tour that offers a glimpse of the fashion designer’s world, some highlights from the collection were exhibited in Palm Beach in March and in New York and Los Angeles in April, followed by Hong Kong from May 21-26, before returning to Paris in June.
Monsieur de Givenchy never reached out to advisors to purchase art. He knew exactly what he wanted and gave priority to the Parisian antiquaires, such as Galerie Kugel, Marcel Bissey, Segoura, Alexander & Berendt, Galerie Didier, Aaron Aveline, and Galerie Michel Meyer. “He was a passionate ambassador for all the great French ateliers and craftsmen who have continued the spirit of creative excellence into our time,” adds Verdier. “In the decoration of his homes, Monsieur de Givenchy always considered the furniture in constant dialogue with the works of art, both ancient and modern. I believe this can be considered the common thread between all these fantastic pieces, chosen with a collector’s eye.”
Hôtel d’Orrouer. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
A jewelry designer, James de Givenchy has always considered his uncle to be his hero, describing him as handsome and elegant, soft-spoken and powerful. “With [my brother] Olivier, we would go and visit the couture house on Avenue George V with our mother to see him,” he remembers. “He would come out of the atelier and give us a kiss. The models would run through the hallways to the fitting room laughing and the music would be playing in the background. There were moments of bliss I will never forget.”
Throughout his adult life, James de Givenchy maintained a great relationship with his uncle, constantly learning from his love of beauty and knowledge of history, which imbues this unique collection. Every piece reveals a little bit more about who the couturier was, how he created, and the environments in which he evolved – including his homes. “This summer, the auctions are an opportunity to celebrate Hubert de Givenchy as one of the greatest ambassadors of French taste,” offers Charles Cator, deputy chairman of Christie’s international. “To tell his story of the art of living, collecting, and the elegance he sought to capture in all things.”
Check out some more of the remarkable pieces from Hubert de Givenchy’s collection below.
A first floor lounge in the Hôtel d’Orrouer in Paris. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
The Bunny Mellon bedroom at Château du Jonchet. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
The courtyard lounge in the Hôtel, featuring The Woman Walking by Alberto Giacometti. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
The Château’s Tree of Life bedroom. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
The Red bedroom in the Hôtel. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
François-Xavier Lalanne’s Oiseau de jardin II at the Château. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
A door knocker by Diego Giacometti. Photo: François Halard. Courtesy of Christie’s
Read Next: Remembering Hubert de Givenchy’s Best Looks
Originally published in the May 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia

‘Jurassic World’-inspired Collection Debuts to Help Artisans

‘Jurassic World’-inspired Collection Debuts to Help Artisans

PRESERVING THE PAST: With “Jurassic World Dominion” headed to theaters this summer, Accompany is trying to reel in some of those fans and socially conscious-minded shoppers by launching a capsule collection with the nonprofit retailer Ten Thousand Villages.
Accompany and Universal Pictures have joined forces for a capsule collection through a partnership with the film franchise “Jurassic World.”
The blockbuster will premiere in theaters in the U.S. on June 3. For the Jurassic World x Accompany collection, apparel, home goods and gift items are being offered for adults and children with all of the handcrafted goods being made by artisan nonprofits in India and Nepal. Accompany, which focuses on socially impactful design-driven commerce, aims to capture dinosaur-loving movie fans and mindful shoppers alike with items that support marginalized artisan communities and strengthens their socioeconomic status. In doing so, the company helps to keep the artisans’ culture and crafts going.

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As an indicator of interest in values-based shopping, the 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose study reported that consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion and defend companies with a strong purpose. Eight thousand consumers evaluated 75 companies and brands for the survey.
Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit that markets ethically made, handcrafted products that are made by artisans in more than 25 countries where marginalization and economic disempowerment are factors.
“Jurassic World Dominion” is the sixth installment in the Jurassic World franchise. It is also the third film in a trilogy, centering on themes of coexistence and legacy. The licensed products are inspired by the Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment film. Hand weaving, wood carving and other age-old techniques are used for the “Jurassic World”-inspired children’s items and home goods and kitchenware. Think terry cloth towels with a dinosaur-shaped hood and tail, or cotton pillows handprinted with the film’s T. Rex skeleton logo. There are also tote bags printed with dinosaur teeth prints and other accents. Retail prices range from $13 to $100 and the collection is available online via Accompany and through the exclusive retail partner Ten Thousand Villages.
As a nod to “Jurassic World Dominion’s” feminist theme of STEM-advancing women, the cobranded collection will help to protect and strengthen women’s rights in underserved communities. Accompany has teamed with Ten Thousand Villages to connect with artisans through two nonprofit fair trade networks — Sasha, a supporter of 5,000-plus artisans in India — the majority of whom are women, and Nepal’s Finest, a Nepal-based organization that is dedicated to improving the socioeconomic status of thousands of marginalized craftspeople and their families.

Fashion and Art Meet for Luxury Swimwear Collaboration

Fashion and Art Meet for Luxury Swimwear Collaboration

French luxury swimwear brand Vilebrequin and contemporary art Swiss publishing house JRP Editions are pooling their resources for a museum-ready swimwear collection. 

Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist Kenny Scharf.
Courtesy Photo

“Bringing art to the beach has always been the dream,” said Roland Herlory, chief executive officer of Vilebrequin, which is part of the G-III Apparel Group. “This long-term collaboration with JRP Editions will push our artistry to new places over the coming seasons.”
That includes the original Saint-Tropez trunk, men’s and women’s swimsuits, tops and accessories, like bags, hats, beach towels and even custom-print ping-pong sets. There are 25 pieces in total, that come in various hues such as purple hot rod flames, rainbow-color happy faces, sea turtles, graffiti-like splashes of paint and shades of sky blue, while exploring such themes and topics as elitism, feminism, fetishized luxury, randomness, gender-identity and artists of color.  

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Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist John Armleder.
Courtesy Photo

“Our swimsuit fabrics are an entirely new terrain for artists,” Herlory explained. “We do not consider what we do art; we’re more focused on reproducing artists’ work as closely as possible to the original in the most honest and respectful manner. With the know-how of Vilebrequin studio and ateliers, we are capable of delivering printing techniques that reproduce an original artwork’s unique color and contrast as faithfully as possible.” 
John Armleder, one of the artists featured in the collaboration, added: “There is no essential difference between a painting, a print or a swimsuit. What changes fundamentally here is the context and the distribution modes of the object. The forms and compositions can thus migrate freely from one support to the other.”

Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist John Armleder.
Courtesy Photo

Additional artists include Kenny Scharf, Sylvie Fleury, and Racquel Chevremont and Mickalene Thomas, also known professionally as “Deux Femmes Noires.” The collaboration was curated in partnership with JRP Editions founder Lionel Bovier, who also serves as director of MAMCO, a contemporary art museum in Geneva, and Arnaud Hubert, chief executive officer of JRP Editions. 
“We wanted to curate a collection that would allow us to explore as many voices and designs as possible,” Bovier said. “This meant bringing together artists with radically different approaches, but who share an interest in how their work can migrate from the canvas or walls to textile. They are united by a common thread: the power of their work, the clarity of their artistic language and the integrity with which Vilebrequin handled their projects.”

Pieces from the Vilebrequin x JRP Editions collection by artist Kenny Scharf.
Courtesy Photo

The limited-edition collection launched May 3, just in time for warm weather and summer travels, on vilebrequin.com and JRP-editions.com, as well as select global Vilebrequin stores. The collection, though now out as the world reopens, was actually conceptualized during the pandemic when people were still just dreaming of far-flung getaways. A second drop, the “Faces in Places” print by artist Kenny Scharf will come out June 21, followed by a second capsule later this year and a third in early 2023. Sizes range from XS to 3XL in men’s and XS to XL in women’s, with prices ranging from $105 to $315.

Vilebrequin was founded by Fred Prysquel in Saint-Tropez in 1971 as a men’s swimwear business. In 2012, G-lll Apparel Group purchased the brand. The following year, women’s swimwear was added to the mix.

Homo Faber’s Sophomore Edition Opens Venice’s Season of Art

Homo Faber’s Sophomore Edition Opens Venice’s Season of Art

MILAN — Homo Faber has officially kicked off the season of arts in Venice.At its sophomore edition, the cultural event celebrating craftsmanship in all forms opened on Sunday, offering a compelling showcase for tourists and local visitors in the leadup to the city’s Biennale Arte, slated to run April 23 to Nov. 27.
Running through May 1, Homo Faber champions artisanal talent by showcasing a variety of materials, techniques and skills through live demonstrations, immersive experiences and handcrafted creations displayed across 15 exhibitions, all staged at the majestic spaces of Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Courtesy of Fondazione Giorgio Cini

The event is organized by the Geneva-based Michelangelo Foundation nonprofit established by Compagnie Financière Richemont’s chairman Johann Rupert and Italian entrepreneur Franco Cologni with the mission to promote, encourage and preserve fine craftsmanship in different fields.

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In particular, this edition celebrates European and Japanese talents and the interconnections between the two countries through shows conceived by 22 renowned curators and designers. These include architects Michele De Lucchi and Stefano Boeri, museum director David Caméo, American director and visual artist Robert Wilson and fashion exhibition designer Judith Clark, among others. 

Homo Faber’s curators.
Courtesy of Michelangelo Foundation

Titled “Details: Genealogies of Ornament,” Clark’s show spotlights 15 luxury houses encompassing Alaïa, Hermès, Cartier, Buccellati, Piaget, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels and Serapian, to name a few.
Staged in a venue that formerly housed a nautical school, the exhibition flanks precious objects — ranging from kimonos and leather pieces to jewelry and watches — to artisans at work, who offer a live demonstration of their skills and a behind-the-scenes look at the different manufacturing processes.

Everything to Know About the 10th Edition of Women’s Film Week in Amman

Everything to Know About the 10th Edition of Women’s Film Week in Amman

HRH Princess Basma bint Talal. Photo: Courtesy of Royal Film Commission
Under the esteemed patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal, a fellow UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, and the artistic direction of Ghada Saba, Women’s Film Week is set in motion for its 10th edition in Amman, Jordan. Honoring the occasion of Women’s History Month, the week of films will spotlight works by and/or about women.
Ghada Saba, artistic director of Women’s Film Week. Photo: Courtesy of Royal Film Commission
Women in cinema—from actors to producers and directors—will present their creative works in the span of five days from Tuesday, March 8 to Saturday, March 12, 2022 at the Rainbow Theatre, Jabal Amman, 1st Circle.
Addressing global issues such as climate changes, sustainability, gender equality, and the roles women play in these fields, the event places women at the forefront of change and peace and security makers of the world. This film week allows for the experience of story-telling which is central to the impact that the world of cinema has on discussing complex issues.
Listed below are the films to be showcased throughout the week:
Tuesday, March 8
Touching on subjects such as climate change, noise and air pollution, and waste management, these two films aim to bring awareness in hopes of decreasing waste.
• 6pm – Bikes Vs Cars• 8pm – Red Soil (Rouge)
Wednesday, March 9
This collection of films calls attention to gender equality in the workforce and the struggle of women in male-dominated industries. Sunú specifically addresses the preservation of culture under the threat of rural development.
• 6pm – A collection of short films such as Tuk-Tuk, Mundo, Women Flying Dreams, and Kano Botanic Gardens• 8pm – Sunú
Thursday, March 10
Losing Alaska fights to maintain cultures and traditions that face threat under the changing weather conditions while From the Kitchen to the Parliament touches on female activism.
• 6pm – Losing Alaska• 8pm- From the Kitchen to the Parliament
Friday, March 11
Presenting further intersectional politics is The Ants and the Grasshopper which highlights racial and gender discrimination in the fight for climate change. Johanna Donhal: Visionary of Feminism is a tribute to Johanna Donhal, one of the first European feminists.
• 6pm – The Ants and the Grasshopper•  8pm – Johanna Dohnal: Visionary of Feminism
Saturday, March 12
Toxic fallout from industrial developments mostly affects those in indigenous and black communities in There’s Something in the Water. The latter discusses justice in the court of judicial law and the extremities of so.
• 6pm – There’s Something in the Water• 8pm – Palazza Di Giustizia and Ordinary Justice
Read Next: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Celebrate Women’s History Month with a Special Announcement

Jordanian Artist and Sculptor Mona Saudi Has Died at Age 76

Jordanian Artist and Sculptor Mona Saudi Has Died at Age 76

Mona Saudi
Mona Saudi, the renowned Jordanian artist and sculptor whose work became part of collections around the world, has died at age 76. The sad news was announced through the artist’s gallery on social media. “Very sad that Mona Saudi, the great Jordanian sculptor, left us tonight,” William Shabibi of Lawrie Shabibi gallery shared on Wednesday.

In grievance of her passing, her close friends and industry colleagues also shared a few words on their social media accounts. “Mona Saudi is no longer with us. Long live Mona Saudi, a great sculptor and beloved friend,” conveyed Palestinian artist and friend Samia Halaby on Instagram. “Rest in peace dear Mona, a pioneer and a force of nature, a true sculptor and artist,” shared President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation Hoor Al-Qasimi, while Sheikha Lateefa Bint Maktoum, founder and director of Tashkeel, also offered her condolences via Instagram.
Some of Saudi’s works
Born in the capital of Jordan, Amman, in 1945, Saudi had studied sculpture at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Her work has been showcased globally in a number of countries including Dubai, London, and Paris. Presenting her work in multiple institutions such as Sharjah Art Foundation, British Museum in London, National Museum for women in the Arts in Washington D.C, and the Ministry of Culture in Cairo since she was as young as 18 years old, Saudi has left her cultural impact through her sculptures on the world.
Read Next: Desert X AlUla is Back: Everything to Know About the Art Exhibition’s Second Edition

Virgil Abloh’s Legacy Will Be Seen in Future Generations, According to Museum Curators

Virgil Abloh’s Legacy Will Be Seen in Future Generations, According to Museum Curators

While many designers see themselves as a multihyphenated talent, Virgil Abloh lived up to that mantle through his ambidextrous creativity and boundary-breaking pursuits.The Off-White founder and Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for men’s wear, who died earlier this week at the age of 41, was a multidisciplinarian through and through. Art, architecture, music, industrial and automotive design, street life and other elements were infused in his seemingly nonstop pursuits, which extended beyond the realm of fashion. However straightforward some of his designs might have appeared to be, Abloh often delivered the subversive and, in doing so, upended an hierarchy that had been decades in the making. Along with Nike, Levi’s and Moncler, other powerhouse brands like Ikea and Mercedes-Benz enlisted Abloh to help envision a smattering of their next-level designs.

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The rise of a Rockford, Ill.-born artist, architect and fashion designer inspired legions of other creatives and consumers to carve new roads to their definitions of success. By his own account, he first learned to fuse the fields of art, craft and design as a postgraduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he was introduced to a curriculum established by Miss Van dear Rohe that had sprung from the Bauhaus movement.
High-minded, but ironic and seemingly always in-on-the-joke, Abloh stoked the dualism of his work on his personal site. Visitors will find a breakout for “The Struggle of Polar Opposites,” including such pairings as “Suit vs. Tracksuit,” “Day Job vs. Night Job” and “Sport vs. Spectator.” Skilled at reiterating different designs and themes for new meanings, Abloh first broached the “Polar Opposites” concert through an Off-White x Nike Air Presto drop in 2019. More recently, he had taken a group of architectural and design students under his wing through a London-based studio that he set up.
Michael Darling, a former curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, first reached out to Abloh in 2016 about the prospect of working together. Intrigued by Off-White, his furniture design, Chicago upbringing and engineering and architectural background, Darling decided upon meeting him that they should do something significant. After debuting at MCA Chicago in 2019, “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” has been shown at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and the ICA Boston, and is now on view at The Firehouse in Qatar until April. Next summer, it will bow at the Brooklyn Museum.
By the time that the show opened in Chicago in 2019, Abloh had morphed into a household name and the turnout reflected that. Following Abloh’s death, Darling said he has been thinking a lot about the designer’s legacy. “So much of what he’s done has happened quite quickly and before our eyes. The impact of it is still unknown. So many young people who he has impacted are just getting started; we haven’t seen the full impact of his influence yet.”
In addition to encouraging the younger generations to not feel bound by genres or certain ways of doing things, Abloh has also encouraged young designers of color to go out and chase their dreams, Darling said. Whether lending a hand or offering contacts, the designer helped them. Recognizing the influence of Abloh’s work with Kanye West’s Donda group, as well as Matthew Williams (now at Givenchy), Heron Preston and Samuel Ross (now of A-Cold-Wall), Darling said, “there was the incredible group of people, who were all working together and tormenting this new wave of creativity in the early 2010s that is still totally under recognized.”

Too young and too generous to be thinking about his legacy, Abloh wasn’t an egomaniac but was someone “who was always thinking about the broader culture and his generation of creatives, and wanting that whole group to succeed and leave their mark,” he added. Although he always made time for his family and a bevy of projects, Abloh was always all-in, when’re he was working. “He always questioned any path forward to make sure it was the best or most interesting or exciting one. He usually had multiple projects in his head at one time. As you were walking down regarding street with him, he would be texting, Instagramming and seeing things that he was making notes of. He was just constantlyprocessing that way, which was pretty amazing to witness,” Darling said, who is now Museum Exchange’s chief growth officer.
Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu curator in charge at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, said Monday, “Virgil both appreciated and explored the power of fashion as language, employing linguistic tropes such as irony and metaphor as cultural commentary. Placing fashion at the very center of contemporaneity, he was a semiotician of our times, encoding clothes with meaning and purpose. His singularity and magnanimity will be greatly missed.”

Virgil Abloh
Bogdan Plakov/Courtesy of Museum of Contempary Art Chicago

The Brooklyn Museum’s senior curator of fashion and material culture Matthew Yokobosky said news of Abloh’s passing prompted such images as “the prismatic carpet that he created for his first Louis Vuitton men’s wear collection that was walked by an international cast of models, thereby staging the vocabulary of gay pride and inclusivity into one of the most anticipated, photographic events of recent years, and transmitting a seriously new perspective at the house.”
He was also reminded of an Off-White leather bag emblazoned with the word “sculpture,” which prompted viewers to consider what is art, what is fashion and is a handbag sculpture. Yokobosky also recalled the industrial hazard striping used as a brand/collection signifier for Off-White that Abloh chose to blur and explore the black-and-white lines that society has created through fashion — a challenge to the status quo. Also fond of Off-White’s precursor brand name Pyrex Vision, the curator asked, “Can anything be more clear and precise? While Virgil was asking us to question and reason through his designs or ‘makes,’ he was being very clear and purpose-driven about the visual ‘awareness’ journey that he wanted to take us on.”

Another admirer of Pyrex Vision was the Museum of Modern Art’s senior curator of architecture and design and director of research and development, Paola Antonelli. Instead of tagging items like a graffiti artist as he had in the past, Abloh “blossomed” at Louis Vuitton, where he was “innovating the essence of the objects and using different typologies for the garments and rethinking them from scratch with new forms and configurations,” she said. Using a leather harness or belt across the chest or shoulder that was reminiscent of Geoffrey Beene, for example, was a very elegant way to give a completely new turn to a suit without losing its essence, she said. “It’s a moment, where fashion is experimenting so much, especially men’s fashion, which is not even gendered any more. He really gave it a push in that direction.”
Abloh’s long-range legacy “will be the abundance of young people, who have been introduced to a world that they didn’t think was theirs, and they will just feel comfortable in it,” Antonelli said. “We will remember the objects, the branding and the logos. But he always opened my heart, because he was always like the Pied Piper with all these kids following him all the time…his most important legacy will be the inspiration that he has given so many kids all over the world and of all different backgrounds and especially kids of color.”
His ability to always design for his 17-year-old self was a point of distinction and a gift that gave him “a different way to be attuned to reality,” she said.
Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, recalled Monday visiting the exhibition in 2019 with a group of other museum directors. Seeing clothes included in the show “just on a rack” rather than on a mannequin or on a pedestal with a light shining on it, raised the question of “‘This is how you’re showing them in an art gallery?’ But he was showing them in conjunction with other kinds of art projects. He was looking at it all like an art project,” Steele said. “In that way, he was very much like Andy Warhol or Jeff Koons — someone who is doing things that [make] some people go, ‘That’s not art’ or, ‘Oh well, it seems like it’s art.’ I’m an artist. I’m doing it. In that way, it’s very interesting conceptually.”

A vignette at Virgil Abloh’s “Figures of Speech” at the Museum of Contempary Art Chicago in 2019.
Courtesy of Museum of Contempary Art Chicago

As was the case with a Haruki Murakami exhibition, the exhibition had a shocking element — the show had racks of clothes, and the gift shop did too for purchase, Steele said.
She expects his lasting impact to be twofold: “One, as a Black person who became super important in the international luxury fashion industry at a very high level as influential and given quite a free range to go across different parts of the LVMH empire. That fits into the second aspect of why I think he is important — his disruptive ability to break down what seemed like barriers between different areas of culture and visual culture.”
As someone, who was interested in fashion from a young age, Abloh wasn’t interested in just fashion, but also art, music, skateboarding, luxury and streetwear, said Steele, noting that he was breaking down the distinctions between some of these things. “I’ve spent years thinking about, ‘How can you look at fashion in connection with art?’ He was there as a maker [considering] ‘Are there distinctions? What would they be? What kind of a maker am I?’”
In the same way, Abloh argued how streetwear could be just like designer fashion or luxury fashion, Steele said. “The lines between those categories are getting blurrier and blurrier. That disruptive quality is something that we only see quite rarely in an art form. We saw it when Bob Dylan started playing an electric guitar, when all of the fogeys started to get freaked out,” Steele said.
Shai Baitel, inaugural artist director of the Modern Art Museum Shanghai, expects Abloh’s legacy to be not only the first designer who dared “blending and mixing elements from the street that relate not only to imagery, but mainly for energy, for the vibe and for the entire rich culture that otherwise never would have been part of such a luxurious brand.”
Abloh grasped that there is no design without art, Baitel said. “Any design — fashion, product, cars, architecture — there would never have been any of those [categories] if it wasn’t for art. Art came first. What Virgil did so brilliantly was to allow these things to mix so seamlessly and be integrated into a sophisticated brand like LVMH that is hundreds of years old. It had been consumed by the elitist of the elite. Now everybody can say, ‘I have an LV as well,’ whereas it’s not just the same as canvas. It’s an incredible achievement. He never compromised the original DNA. And DNA, like any DNA is an evolution.”

In addition, Abloh will be remembered for taking Louis Vuitton to new audiences. Baitel spoke of the importance “to understand the consumption of product or a brand that stands for certain ideology or values, as well as the way that we consume content that is not necessarily tangible. Everything that is too excluding and too snobbish was no longer welcome. Every brand needs to think not just about the present, but mainly about the future. You could see how such a brilliant creative director such as Virgil and others immediately had their interpretations of how this and future generations look into products and brands and luxury. Even if it is a little less exclusive, it speak loudly to allowing everybody to be part of it.”

Ai Weiwei Ready to Unveil Espresso Cups for Illy

Ai Weiwei Ready to Unveil Espresso Cups for Illy

Provocative contemporary artist Ai Weiwei is the latest artist to be recruited by Illy to design espresso cups.
His Illy Art Collection cups will debut May 19. Understandably, the 90-year-old Italian coffee specialist believes that coffee should not just be a communal experience but a multisensory one. Illy believes that coffee should be experienced with all five senses, with the touch of the cup and its design being paramount to that.
The espresso cups borrow from Ai Weiwei’s “Coloured Vases,” which involved taking Neolithic vases and splashing them in paint cans. Imagine saucers and the interiors of espresso cups splattered with color.
By teaming with Ai Weiwei, the Italian company seems to be taking chances in terms of future growth. Illy acknowledged as much in press material related to the upcoming launch. The company seems to be undaunted by the potential risk of alienating China, which is one of its fastest-growing markets.

Ai Weiwei was unavailable for an interview, according to an Illy spokeswoman.
The espresso cup project is only the latest endeavor that he has taken on. On May 15, the Skirball Cultural Center will present “Ai Weiwei: Trace,” that is meant to relay courage in response to authoritarianism. The dissident artist was detained in China in 2011 for reportedly planning a party to mark the demolition of his Shanghai studio. The exhibition will be on view in Los Angeles until Aug. 1.
His new memoir “1,000 Years of Joys and Sorrows” is due out in November with a cover that he has designed. This fall the artist will also launch Circa, a curated platform for digital art, and he will unveil a limited-edition collection of scarves and bags with Taschen.
Carlo Bach, the art director at Illy, has been heading up the brand’s art collection project since it first started nearly 30 years ago. The multisensory approach to espresso drinking reflects Illy’s ideology that one cup of coffee does not taste the same to two different people.

Meet the Young Artist Collective Creating a Space for Muslim Women in the Industry

Meet the Young Artist Collective Creating a Space for Muslim Women in the Industry

A young artistic collective is rewriting the rulebook, challenging stereotypes while celebrating and nurturing genuine diversity – meet the Muslim Sisterhood.
Members of the Sisterhood’s collective: Rahma Mohamed, Farzana Ahmed, Yasmin Moeladi, Jasmin Abraham, Lamisa Khan (wearing coat, Saks Potts at Selfridges; top, Ester Manas at 50m; pants, Daily Paper; shoes, Axel Arigato), Hana Raage, Jeeba Marri, Zeinab Saleh (wearing suit, Filles A Papa; shoes, Axel Arigato; earrings, Aurum), Ikram Yassin. Photo: Malak Kabbani
Founded in 2017 by Zeinab Saleh, Lamisa Khan (both London based), and Sara Gulamali (who currently resides in Canada), Muslim Sisterhood began as a beautifully compiled photo series, capturing young Muslim women expressing themselves freely and authentically. Today, the collective has evolved to work within photography, fashion, film, publishing, and events, culminating in the launch of a zine last year.
Clockwise from top left: Jeeba Marri, Hana Raage, Farzana Ahmed, Jasmin Abraham. Photo: Malak Kabbani. Photo: Malak Kabbani
Khan wears jacket, Tokyo James. Lamisa wears jacket, Miló Maria; pearl necklace, Butler & Wilson. Photo: Malak Kabbani
“This was the first moment that our online community could come together and celebrate our work in real life,” they say. “It was so empowering to create a space that completely catered to our needs as Muslims. We had a mocktail bar and prayer space, and we commissioned Muslim florists, DJs, and panelists. Everything in our zine was produced, designed, and curated by a diverse and entirely Muslim female team.”

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Saleh wears dress, Toga; pants, Milo Maria; earrings, Aurum. Khan wears dress, Shrimps; vintage head scarf, Atika. Photo: Malak Kabbani
Khan wears coat, Susan Forrest; dress, Ashley Williams at The Lobby; necklace, Butler & Wilson; earrings, Aurum. Saleh wears shirt, Marr; corset, Ellie Misner; jeans, vintage Levi’s at Atika; jacket, Toga; earrings, Maeve. Photo: Malak Kabbani
Rejecting the prejudice that western narratives can project onto Muslim women, they explain their motivation stems from “a realization that if you want to see certain things and ideas come to fruition in modern media, it’s best to do it yourself.” Merging activism with championing creative talent from marginalized communities, they describe curating a medium where “young women, people of color, and Black women can prioritize their experiences,” and ultimately take ownership of their lives. Shining a light on what it means to be young and Muslim today, the Sisterhood’s network continues to swell as their work gains momentum. “So many things have led organically into the other,” they say. “Every part of our journey has been a source of pride and joy. We can build ideas for the future as much as we like but as this year has shown, ultimately Allah is the best of planners.”
Saleh wears top, dress, tights, shoes, Prada. Photo: Malak Kabbani
Read Next: 10 Inspiring Muslim Women We Should All Look Up To
Originally published in the October 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

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