RIYADH: Local and international visitors attended renowned fashion designer Zac Posen’s live masterclass on gown draping techniques, intricacies of the fashion industry, and the process of starting a luxury brand at Diriyah’s Jax District in Riyadh.
The two hour masterclass also addressed the practical side of design. As he began dressing a mannequin in vibrant red fabric, using only scissors and pins, beginning his technique from the neck, Posen took questions from the audience.
“It’s all about purpose … Even if (a gown) is about exaggeration or glamor, for me, as big as it is, it has to be able to be worn,” he said.
“You can always keep going into a piece. Sometimes time runs out, and that’s the answer … There’s that moment when you kind of impromptu know that it’s ready. You’ll feel it.”
I think my journey and purpose is really to show everybody else that they can express through their creativity.
Posen, known for creating iconic red carpet looks for A-list celebrities, is the son of American painter Stephen Posen, so artistry runs in the family.
His journey began when Posen found his calling for fashion backstage during numerous hours at the costume shop in high school.
“I think my journey and purpose is really to show everybody else that they can express through their creativity,” he said during the masterclass.
Surrounded by British models in the New York fashion scene in 1996, with the likes of Karen Elson, Erin O’Connor, and Jade Parfitt, Posen described it as a formative period.
“There was a new breath of air into fashion. I think the craft of fashion, especially in France and in Europe, was at a very high point and creativity, expression, and a new Romantic Movement had come into fashion,” the designer said.
Interning at the Costume Institute aged 16, the “life-changing” experience was the first time he had really understood the intricacies of clothing design on a deeper level and its historical significance.
“I grew up in a house where art is not about decoration. Art is about experience. Art is not about monetary value, it is about expression, experience, emotion, and storytelling. But I kind of started to understand that and take that on,” he said.
After spending the summer at Parsons New School for Design and within the bustling vibrancy of New York’s Garment District, he began developing his own design style, experimenting by making evening wear for his female friends.
In full immersion into the expressive underground drag queen culture of the city in the late 1990s, he shipped off to London to attend Central Saint Martins art school, which was a challenging but impressionable time for the designer.
“With high competition, you could not leave your clothing or anything you’re working on (at) a table. It would disappear, be chopped up, in the trash. You had to lock it up or take it home,” he said.
It was during his early days in London when Posen met Italian actress and style icon Anita Pallenberg, who took him under her wing and provided an opportunity to model in a campaign with John Malkovich for designer Bella Freud.
Two years into fashion school, the Posen buzz started around his designs and established a clientele base in London.
One of his designs had caught the eye of prominent model Naomi Campbell, who was determined to meet the designer, after she saw a dress worn by Posen’s friend on the Eurostar.
“She was incredibly kind and nurturing and wanted me to make her clothing, gave me money to buy fabric. We took her measurements … I started making her clothing and the buzz was building and then (a) New York Times writer called and said ‘I want to write an article about seeing this dress, and you, and the journey of this dress.’
“I knew that it could go either way, and I thought that opportunity is not a lengthy visitor, let’s try this,” he said.
The interview paid off, prompting notable attention from Barney’s, Fashion TV, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, which now showcases a multitude of his designs as part of its permanent collection.
He was then lured back to New York where he started his atelier in his parents’ living room, investing his $10,000 savings into the brand.
He then went on to produce a capsule collection for GenArt as part of their “Fresh Faces in Fashion New York 2001” show.
He is known for feminine designs that highlight the architecture of the body in a way that reflects the fluidity and softness of movement.
One of his biggest moments, Posen said, was when actress Natalie Portman wore one of his designs at the premier of “Star Wars: Episode I” following his first fashion show.
When the tragic events of 9/11 engulfed the residents of New York City, he felt that his hometown needed him through the tough times.
“Creativity, expression is what will bring back the city. It needs it. I felt it really strongly (that) I wasn’t going back to London, that wasn’t going to happen, this resilient force that I needed to be there,” he said.
Other highlight of his designing career incudes dressing up prominent figures and actresses such as Princess Eugenie of York, Uma Thurman, and Claire Danes.
“It’s not going to be necessarily the easiest road, being a creator, but it can be a very fulfilling role. You can make people feel very beautiful, and empowered, and happy, and really bring joy. And sometimes, those moments can add to a cultural narrative,” he said.
In the age of media and digital evolution, the designer believes that fashion is now evolving quicker than ever, and can become a tool in crossing cultural boundaries.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins after a new government was approved by lawmakers this week, the Saudi Press Agency reported early on Saturday.
The king and crown prince sent cables to the prime minister, wishing success and prosperity for Latvia and its people.
A majority in Latvia’s parliament on Wednesday voted to confirm the country’s proposed coalition government, allowing Karins to stay in power following his win in the October general election.
The centre-right New Unity party headed by Karins, a prominent Russia critic, is supported by the conservative National Alliance and the United List of smaller parties for a slim majority.
— With input from Reuters
DOHA: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sport Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal on Friday hosted a number of international football sports federations and Qatari officials at the “Saudi House” zone.
The zone was founded by the Saudi Football Federation in the Doha Corniche to coincide with the FIFA World Cup 2022 being hosted by Qatar.
The celebration included a dinner party at the Saudi House, attended by the President of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, the President of the Qatar Olympic Committee, Sheikh Joa’an bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatari Minister of Youth and Sports Salah bin Ghanem Al-Ali, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, and a number of international sports leaders.
They praised the activities they witnessed that enriched the experience of fans of all nationalities.
The guests toured the zone and were briefed on the more than 21 activities it offers across 10 pavilions.
The Saudi House offers an integrated experience for fans, with cultural, social, tourist and entertainment dimensions, highlighting the culture, heritage and football passion of the Saudis.
ROME: In 2022, Italy was among the top five countries of origin for tourists who chose Saudi Arabia as their holiday destination.
Italian tourism in the Kingdom has been seeing steady growth. In just the first 6 months of 2022, around 1,500 Italians traveled to the country.
AlUla, with its archaeological wonders, remains the favorite destination for Italian tourists, followed by Riyadh and Jeddah, the historical centers of which carry obvious appeal to Italians.
“When they go back home, all Italian tourists say they were enthusiastic and incredibly surprised by Saudi Arabia,” Eleonora Bertuzzi, director of Bertel, one of the first Italian tour operators to organize trips to Saudi Arabia, beginning in 2002, told Arab News.
• In the first 6 months of 2022, about 1,500 Italians traveled to Saudi Arabia.
• In 2022, Italy was among the top 5 countries of origin for tourists who chose KSA as their holiday destination.
Bertuzzi lives in Milan and collaborates with Kel12, a tour operator in the city. However, she says she prefers to cooperate with Saudi suppliers who maintain authentic local traditions.
“Before getting there, Italian tourists expect to find an extremely closed country where nothing can be done. Instead, they see a modern and interesting country, where young people have a great desire to enjoy life and do interesting things.”
She says Italians always tell her they are “impressed” by the Saudi people, especially those “engaged in promoting heritage, trying to offer tourists new experiences, like those who have opened their homes to organize lunches and show how a middle-class Saudi family lives every day.”
Italian tourists are equally fascinated by the archaeological heritage of the Kingdom.
“AlUla is an open-air museum, and Riyadh with its antiquities is also much loved by our tourists who seek to understand the country by studying its origins,” Bertuzzi said.
“Fifty percent of Italian tourists say they want to return to Saudi Arabia. We are now studying alternative itineraries and destinations. Among these, NEOM will be very interesting,” she added.
According to Bertuzzi, there are “excellent prospects” for the growth of Italian tourism in Saudi Arabia. “At the moment, prices are still high for Italians. But we’re working on that.”
RIYADH: It was in February 1932 that Saudi Arabia and Italy signed a Treaty of Friendship that marked the origin of the bilateral relationship between the two countries — and 90 years on the partnership is more fruitful than ever.
In 2021, the trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and Italy exceeded $8 billion, higher than the pre-pandemic period, showing an accelerating economic relationship between the two countries.
Italy is currently the seventh biggest exporter to Saudi Arabia and the second within the EU, while the Kingdom is Italy’s 21st highest exporter, supplying about 9 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil imports.
As Saudi Arabia leapfrogs in the business sector through economic diversification, a strong strategic partner like Italy could also reap benefits.
In line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is now steadily diversifying its economy, which has been dependent on oil for several decades. The Kingdom now eyes becoming one of the world’s top tourist destinations by 2030, along with accelerating the flow of foreign direct investments to the nation.
With several regulatory reforms and by creating a business-friendly environment, Saudi Arabia is attracting foreign companies to the Kingdom.
These firms are now enjoying all the benefits, guarantees, support and incentives offered to Saudi entities, and the government even allows full foreign ownership in most industries.
Until now, Italy’s capital expenditure in Saudi Arabia focused mainly on manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade, but these regulatory reforms could help Italian entrepreneurs to explore more sectors in the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian firms are also establishing a foothold in Italy, with SABIC being the most prominent one operating in the European nation.
Other notable firms from the Kingdom operating in Italy include Saudi Arabian Airlines in the logistics and storage sectors and Gulf Infonet in the telecommunications sector.
Earlier in June, in an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Italian-Saudi Joint Commission, Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s then-foreign minister, stressed the importance of consolidating his country’s historic relations with the Kingdom.
Di Maio said: “Italy was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the early 1930s and 2022 marks a very important anniversary in our longstanding friendship.”
Di Maio further noted that high-tech Italian companies could contribute to Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification journey, especially in the fields of sustainability and energy transition.
On the sidelines of the event, the Saudi Space Commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to collaborate on projects of common interest in Earth observation, technology and communication in deep space, scientific missions and human exploration programs, as well as joint efforts in satellites and training.
“ASI and SSC agree to cooperate through the exchange of information and scientific data, the joint organization of seminars and workshops and the development of joint projects and research activities,” a spokesman for ASI told Arab News.
Saudi Arabia and Italy already have strong bilateral exchanges on energy, innovation, machinery and space. As the countries celebrate the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations, these ties could be further extended to other sectors like culture and tourism.
* $4.5bn Foreign direct investments from Italy to Saudi Arabia in 2020.
RIYADH: Riyadh Winter Wonderland hosted a special Professions Day on Thursday as part of Riyadh Season. Participants who came along dressed in their uniforms received a free pass to Winter Wonderland — one of Riyadh Season’s main zones.
“As doctors, my friends and I arrived today to celebrate with everyone else, check out their uniforms, and have fun,” Mussab Jaber, who is studying medicine, told Arab News.
According to architects Nasser Bahamdan and Abdulrahman Al-Bahoth, who wore safety helmets and vests, the event demonstrates the variety of professions practiced by Saudis.
“We heard about Professions Day and came to see how everyone was dressed and if there were any other architects here,” Bahamdan said. “Everyone is dressed to reflect their profession, which is cool.”
Ateeq Al-Shahrani, a student of aviation technology, arrived with his peers in an aviation uniform. He said his college had encouraged him to participate.
“Our college emailed us about Professions Day and encouraged us to participate and show off our uniform, which bears the International Aviation Technical College logo, our names, and this red line on the shoulder that represents which year you are in; I’m a freshman, so I have one line,” Al-Shahrani said.
Ghaith Al-Enazi, a refrigeration technician, said he had heard that many people were coming, so he wanted to come and see what people were wearing.
“We refrigeration technicians wear overalls or jumpsuits, safety shoes, and a helmet,” he said. “I think it’s great to be proud of what you do for a living.”
Doctor Zahraa Al-Abdullah arrived wearing a lab coat and said she had come to play with her children.
“I’m happy to see how my profession is influencing my children,” she told Arab News. “As a mother and a doctor, work can sometimes cause us to drift from our families, but today I find it amusing that I can come in with my lab coat and feel appreciated by my kids, who are asking me why people are taking pictures of me.”
Many children took part in the festival themselves, dressing up as musicians, astronauts, chefs, and other professionals.
One of them, Baraa Halwani, who was dressed as a chef, told Arab News: “I’m wearing a chef’s uniform because I enjoy cooking and want to have fun and play in Winter Wonderland with my friends.”