BRAND NEW BLOG!!!!

Hello everyone!!! I’ve been very under the radar lately because I have been working on a brand new blog design and the best part is it’s synced up to my original website! YAY!!!

Here is the NEW blog address and a preview of how it looks! From now on I will be posting on the new address so it you would like to stay updated, here is the address and don’t forget to hit subscribe! 🙂

http://sarajapanwalla.com/blog/

how it should look

Hetty Feather Review at DUCTAC

Lately, I’ve been getting an insatiable hankering for a bit of culture.

I had heard rave reviews about the play Hetty Feather and so I spontaneously decided to catch the matinee show on the very LAST day at DUCTAC.

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Hetty Feather is based on the book by renowned English writer Jacqueline Wilson, whose books are world famous with over 30 million copies being sold in the UK alone.

As soon as the play started, I felt completely engaged in the plot and the creative and highly personal way it was narrated.

Set in the Victorian era, the story centers around feisty headstrong redhead, Hetty Feather who was abandoned by her mother and given up to the Foundling Hospital as a baby. The plot highlights her ongoing quest to find her biological mother as well as her relationships and experiences along the way.

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There was a very small but solid cast, with some actors playing multiple roles. This could have been confusing, but the context was made very obvious due to the fact that the actors were incredibly talented, versatile and highly multi-faceted.

The sets and scenery were simple and improv was highly relied on. This is not a disadvantage and it was still captivating because it encouraged the audience to use the art of pretend, making it even more magical. The circus scenes were particularly entrancing.

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There was an emotional roller-coaster element portrayed throughout. It had the perfect balance of pulling at your heart strings, yet not being too overwhelmingly heavy or depressing.

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Although essentially a children’s story, the content was relatable to everyone.

All humans crave their own idealistic interpretation of “happily ever after.”

Like Hetty, we go from hurdle to hurdle and just when we think we have sussed it, we get smacked unexpectedly with a cold hard dose of reality.
The play deals with this theme this beautifully, but illustrates that despite it all, everything isn’t always doom and gloom. Life has an imperfect beauty and the random nature of it should be embraced, cherished and celebrated.

It also highlights the compassion in human nature and that the pursuit of happiness is an adventure within itself. .

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Exceptional acting with a compelling, charming story.

Needless to say my thirst for culture was, indeed, quenched.

Jumshed Qaisar paintings at Mussawir Art Gallery

A little while back, I stopped by at Mussawir gallery and I couldn’t help but be completely drawn into Jumshed Qaisar’s amazing Islamic calligraphy pieces.

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Born in Lahore, Qaisar is a renowned artist specializing in his unique interpretation of Arab calligraphy. As well as all over Pakistan, his work has been exhibited in countries such as Russia, Kuwait, Moscow and UK.

What I really loved about his pieces is how they are spiritually inspired yet still very beautiful, aesthetically. I like how he incorporates the lettering in a very unconventional way.

Traditionally, calligraphy is created in a linear way from right to left, but the artist uses the letters more like patterns to creatively fill in spaces and so he produces the most unique, abstract masterpieces.

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I like how the letters intertwine with each other and how he combines the calligraphy with other elements such as shape, form and colour as well as his clever use of negative space.

The letters vary from intricate and delicate to thick, bold and pronounced, while still keeping consistent and harmonious as a whole.

His choice of colour palette is beautiful and tasteful, sticking to just a few complementary bold shades which really make a statement.

I like the unexpected zing of lime green in this one.

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As well as the tiniest sliver of orange in this monochrome one. It really works, visually.

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Blending classic tradition with innovative, contemporary abstraction, his work exudes all the mystery of Arabia.

The Big Picture Opening Night

So imagine that you are in an art gallery featuring an array of local UAE artists.

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You’re nibbling on canapes as you chat with your arty friends. Everything is pretty laid back and chilled out and you’re enjoying looking at all the impressive artwork. You turn to your left and BOOM!

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series,  Swan

Salvador Dali, The Horse Series, Swan

A Dali.

An ORIGINAL, honest-to-goodness Salvador Dali which is so close you can just reach out and touch it!

No need to go all the way to Barcelona to have this experience; it happened right here in Pro Art Gallery, Jumeirah on the opening night of The Big Picture on May the 5th.

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Curated by artist Ram Nath, The Big Picture is now in its second edition and is under the patronage of His Highness Shiekh Khalid Bin Mansour Al Thani.

As well as Dali, other legendary artists that were featured at the exhibition included Banksy, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

Roy Lichtenstein, Cow Going Abstract

All their original works were exhibited side by side with 45 local artists from the UAE. The best part was there were no walls or barriers separating the legends from the contemporaries.

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Vahid Danaiefar, untitled 2, Oil on board,

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Luis Vazquez, The Path of the Foxes, Acrylic on Canvas

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

Kevin Badni, Big head, Sculpture

“The idea of including internationally renowned legends and UAE based artists supported the main goals of The Big Picture, which is to demolish any boundaries or categorization that may limit the artists or their thought processes.” Nath explains.

The exhibition has alot of diversity as it explores multifaceted artistic creations featuring painting, photography, sculpture, digital art, performance art, installation as well as sound and video arts, by emerging and established artists.

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The gallery was packed with an assortment of art aficionados soaking up the atmosphere.

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The interesting part about this exhibition was it had a highly personal touch as there was an audio guide available.

It allowed the viewer to wander around at his/her own pace with headphones on and listen to each artist talk about their themes and inspirations behind their pieces.

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The energy was infectious and the talent was indeed awe-inspiring.

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Reem Albanna, Hazy Reality, Oil on Canvas

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Zoya Tariq, Imprisoned in a mistaken identity, Photography

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Eduardo Yup, Face the Reality, Acrylic on fiber matt

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Resurger, Liberty 2, Screen print,

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Aleksandar Bezinovic, Annunciation, Acrylic on Canvas

Here are a couple of photos of my work at the exhibition …

My work at the gallery

Free as a Bird, acrylic on board,

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Thanks to The Big Picture, someday I can brag to my future grandkids that I was featured in the same exhibition as Picasso!

If you have not seen it yet, you’d best skedaddle as the exhibition continues until the 24th of May!

Chanel Cruise Show Illustrations

Just incase you have been living under a rock and hadn’t heard – the Chanel Cruise Fall show took place in Dubai recently.

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It was held on an exclusive luxurious island just off the coast which was made JUST for the occasion.

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If my tone appears to read tinged with an ever-so-slight tone of bitterness, it’s because I AM still rather sore I did not attend. (super exclusive invite only!)

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Oh well! I’m over it!! All is fair in love and fashion 🙂

Now that I’ve got my emotional trauma behind me (!) Let’s talk about the collection …

The level of luxury and opulence at this show reminded me a lot of Karl Lagerfeld’s interpretation of India is his pre fall 2012 collection. (One of my favorites!)

Similarly, this one was also very lavish and plush but with a very sophisticated 1001-Nights/ Arabesque twang to it.

I liked the contemporary tailoring contrasted with the fluid billowing shapes such as the harem pants and elegant flowing tunics with ethnic shoes. Tres Aladdin!

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The signature tweed textures made cameos, both in light variations and more stronger monochrome tones. I was particularly enchanted by the folksier prints in sheer chiffon kaftans. I also loved the tribal embroidered fabric (Bedouin inspired, perhaps?)

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It wasn’t all soft and demure, though. For instance, I appreciated the odd lamé metallic trouser thrown into the mix; unexpected and added edge!

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MOST of ALL I loved those AWESOME bejewelled moons.

They added such a wonderful ethereal, exotic touch, especially paired with the models’ smouldering, sultry eye make up!

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The gorgeous fabrics and textures stirred up some creativity inside me. Here are some fashion illustrations I created of the show.

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Tahir Sultan salon show at the Cartel

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I must admit that when I shop for clothes, comfort is very low on my list of priorities!

It’s just that word – “comfort.” It often has a very unglamorous connotation that doesn’t quite appeal to me and I just end up thinking of hoodies and clumpy shoes.

Tahir Sultan’s brand new collection, however, is a game changer and proves that comfort and style CAN go hand in hand successfully!

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The Kuwaiti designer collaborated with urban conceptual boutique The Cartel on the 7th of May to showcase his collection for pre order. Before making a final decision on their orders, clients had a chance to see the outfits on the models in the flesh during an exquisite salon show, which was catered by Okku.

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The Cartel/Desert Fish is known for throwing great events with a terrific vibe. It’s always chic yet unpretentious. That night in particular was boisterous and spirited with an urban, youthful atmosphere. Quintessentially Cartel.

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As well as the fashion, the food was just flawless! Just LOOK at those seductive, delectable canapes. I thoroughly enjoyed giddily scoffing on the beef sushi and crispy sweet duck in the corner.

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I love Tahir’s sporty and sleek silhouettes in understated shades of greys, taupes and ecru.

The ensembles are beautifully draped as well as versatile; you could wear these to a fashion launch OR curled up with a hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon.

Marilyn Monroe once said “A girl’s clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you are a lady.”

I can’t help but think that the designer’s new collection really embodies this wise and timeless philosophy. The pieces seem to skim flatteringly over certain areas, yet cinch and highlight the right ones such as the waist.

Tahir Sultan - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Tahir Sultan - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

It ties mystery and modesty with an avant garde allure.

Comfort. Not so clumpy after all ….

Images courtesy of The Cartel

Abu Dhabi Book Fair

I was certainly a busy bee from the 30th to the 5th of May!

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This year, I had participated in the Abu Dhabi Book Fair to promote my work as a children’s book illustrator. I was also looking for potential publishers for my latest book project. (hint hint)

I was really impressed by how huge and well organised the fair was. The illustrator’s corner was situated RIGHT next to publishers so it was perfect for my ongoing pursuit!

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The fair is not just for sitting still in the corner in silent bookworm mode, though!

Infact, it was actually quite interactive and action packed! There were lots of seminars on the agenda everyday on various topics such as culture and tourism, book launches, career strategies and so forth.

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I noticed there was some artistic activities for children to participate in so there was something for everyone!

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I must admit, I got a little bit bored of sitting around acting prim and well behaved so I decided to paint my booth walls on the last day! I always wanted to do murals on the wall for children’s room so it was great practice for me to just go to town.

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I decided to paint a mermaid – I had always done mythical fashion illustration ones in the past, so for this one I wanted her to look child like, sweeter and more cherub-y (is that even a word?? haha!)

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Here’s how it turned out!

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Although Abu Dhabi is quite a trek for us native Dubaians, it’s well worth it and I highly recommend checking it out next year!

Alright Mr Demille, I’m ready for my close up.

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I’d just like to say that in terms of being camera shy … I was awkward wayyy before Kirsten Stewart made it cool.

I know you may be skeptical as it may not seem that way with the abundance of photos I take!! It’s different when taking a photo with a camera – I’m totally cool with that! Basically – when in doubt, the secret is to adopt a “Liz Hurley Stance”. You know the drill – your weight on one leg, which comes forward. Hand on hip. Coy, close lipped smile and bada bing, bada boom!!! You just can’t go wrong with that!

Being interviewed, however, is trickier but I found it an amazing experience all the same!

Last week I was approached by Abu Dhabi TV to be featured on their fashion programme, @Fashion.

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They were filming a special episode on the art of fashion and wanted to interview me about my fashion illustrations and talk about my art blog and live drawing. I was so thrilled to oblige and the best part was illustrating live in front of a camera which they would turn into a speed painting for the programme.

One part of the experience I really took to immediately was having my make up and hair done. There’s nothing better than bouncy hair and curled lashes!!! I’m quite picky with make up, but my make up artist did an amazing job creating a slightly more dramatic yet polished look. He used Bassam Fattouh cosmetics to get the desired look. I haven’t ever used these products, but I definitely am hooked and will go back for more! I was particularly impressed with the awesome eyebrow pencil which is the perfect shade of soft brown!!!!

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The interview took place at trendy and spacious A4 Space, situated in Al Serkal Avenue. I just love how open and sophisticated it is, and I particularly adore the inspirational messages on the walls.

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I always thought on TV, the crew do quite a few takes before deciding on the final cut. The surprising thing about this interview was it was done in only one take! The producer, Georges Estephan, wanted a really natural and spontaneous dialogue with the gorgeous TV presenter, Rulan Omari. It was completely unrehearsed, candid and really nice and raw!!!

The interview itself was really breezy, but I had to do a brief solo introduction so if I seem terrified, that is because…er…I WAS!!! haha!!!

A truly wonderful day and I am really looking forward to watching it live on Abu Dhabi TV in approximately one week!!! I can’t wait to see how the final segment turned out all put together with all the other artists/designers. Yayy!! 🙂 Here’s some photos from that day!

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Fashion Forward Frolics – Part 2

Essa Walla’s show was wonderfully outrageous and truly audacious!

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Courtesy of Getty images

Provocatively entitled “Blow,” his collection featured plenty of acid bright colours, statement prints, furs and plenty of interesting frou-frou details. I loved the ostrich feather embellishments mixed with beadwork that sparkled in the spotlight.

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The eclectic combination of textures were so unexpected and constantly kept us guessing.

Although it was a very daring and bold, there’s no doubt that there was a pinch of feminine romanticism (i.e the floor sweeping hemlines and hourglass-enhancing silhouettes) but it was unconventional femininity.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Essa - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Oversized sunglasses, vintage 50’s shapes and trippy combinations – think Jackie O on LSD.

Courtesy of Getty images

Courtesy of Getty images

Beautiful simplicity with a sporty, sleek twist is what sprung to my mind when describing Tahir Sultan’s collection.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

His experimental use of jersey created some very versatile draped pieces ranging from floaty maxi dresses to more structured, slick ensembles. I love the striped patterned fabrics, the “50 shades of grey” colour scheme and the simple pearl adornments for a touch of understated elegance.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Sultan has successfully combined function with design by creating wearable pieces that are soft yet stylish – whoever said practicality has to be unsophisticated?

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Zareena’s collection was very regal with Eastern influences. The embroideries and embellishments were multi layered, ornate and refined and the silhouettes ranged from graceful and flowing to sculptural and dramatic.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images


Paired with the most strikingly theatrical hairstyles, a few of her gorgeous outfits almost looked like they were from a different time and would make wonderful costumes for a fantasy film of some sort.

Having said that, quite a few pieces offered alot of coverage so they were very modest and could even be worn over the abaya just like designer herself had demonstrated.

Regionally appropriate and frankly, quite marvellous.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Zareena - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

To attend Amato’s show, one needs to be strong and merciless. This is because the queue for his sensational shows can get SO overwhelming. In fact, people START lining up for his show forty minutes in advance. With the huddles of people pushing and shoving, it’s like fighting a herd of aggressively bossy and highly determined sheep.

It’s survival of the fittest.

A full house crowd at the Amato show

A full house crowd at the Amato show

But just like all things in life, if the bitter ain’t bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet.

And I assure you, it his shows are ALWAYS pretty “sweet.”

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

This season was no exception. The designer was inspired by the conquests of Alexander the Great and his travels in Persia, India and Egypt.

The collection was exotic, rich and bejewelled and he enticed us all with the combination of sumptuous colours – ruby reds, emeralds and sapphire blues.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty images

Courtesy of Getty images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

The outfits were made from French lace and tulle, all embellished in sequins, swarovski crystals and plenty of flowers.

I loved the amazing gold tribal jewellery he used to cover the models’ faces, lending an element of Eastern mystery as they strutted grandiosely down the runway.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Amato By Furne One - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Amato By Furne One - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

See, I told you! Good things come to those who wait.

I assure you, this is worth the wait.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Street Style/The Garden at Fashion Forward

Every time I attend Fashion Forward, I find myself getting more and more impressed by the way people dress in Dubai!

Street style really inspires me a lot – especially in my illustrations. I thought I would add a personalised twist to the blog by just taking a moment to highlight some of the best looks I spotted this season!!

Y’know … “REAL beauty from REAL women.” Kinda like the Dove campaign (only less cheesy and condescending!!)

Creative or eccentric, quirky or classic – here’s to all you gorgeous Dubai stylistas out there who are not afraid to sparkle!

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ootd - Michael Kors dress with Nihal Basha clutch

ootd – Michael Kors dress with Nihal Basha clutch

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The Garden

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Initially when Fashion Forward started, regional designers just had a small shop in the corner to showcase their work.

Since season two, the concept has evolved a great deal! The Garden is an open area situated at Fashion Forward with collections of booths and stalls dedicated to accessory designers.

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As it is, I am a total magpie when it comes to accessories and jewellery stalls happen to be my Achilles heel!! I can spend hours exploring touristy souks and checking out bits and bobs so The Garden is one of my favorite parts of Fashion Forward!

Here are a few of my favorite pieces I found this year.

Yalla …let’s browse!

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Maria Iqbal’s pop art clutches will always hold a fashionable space in my heart. This talented furniture designer creates THE most unique, humorous and wonderfully tongue in cheek pieces! The style is very Warhol and the colours are bold, trippy and acidic and I like her regional satire. I just LOVE this “I swear upon Prada” clutch.

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It gets even BETTER. This year she extended her signature style of painting onto actual garments! Just a couple of limited edition pieces which I am TOTALLY coveting. I was ITCHING to try them on and so I abducted this sexy little leather/tulle number for a little while.

How AWESOME is THIS?!

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A lot of designers get on the pop art trend bandwagon but I find that Maria Iqbal’s accessories just exude cool.

Azza Bijou’s jewellery designs are beautiful, strong and intricate and I love her Arabesque influences. She’s constantly inspired by the timeless and artistic majesty of Islamic geometry, but every year she keeps her collections fresh with new ideas and themes.

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This season she was inspired by a warrior princess theme and collaborated with Taller Marmo supplying the jewellery for his catwalk show.

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If you haven’t heard of Nathalie Trad clutches, (as they say in Mean Girls) I’m sorry but “you can’t sit with us.”

Nathalie Trad clutches

Nathalie Trad clutches

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Just like Azza, geometric form is a strong element and she complements this by using exquisite materials like luxurious mother of pearl. Her signature is this amazing trademark lattice effect on top of most of her clutches, but this season she is branching away from that and her shapes have transitioned into sharper and more futuristic forms.

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I then wandered over to “Sarah’s Bags,” where these rather splendid Lichtenstein inspired purses caught my eye.

There are even clutches that look like shawermas!!! How ADORABLE are THESE??!?!?!

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There are even clutches that look like manakish!!! How ADORABLE is that??!?!?! They even have paper wrapping. They look SO real that I can almost taste the so-good-but-so-bad salty cheeseyness.

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Sparkly and sassy, I love the catchphrase in particular! I think every once-lovestruck girl can relate to it. Why not turn your battle scars into a fashion statement?! As well as looking awesome it’s a great reminder to always keep your position and dignity intact next time around!!!!

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That about wraps it up! Filled to the brim with style, fashion AND talent, there is never a dull moment here at FF!