Actor, singer and style icon Jane Birkin dies in Paris at age 76

British actress and singer Jane Birkin poses in Deauville on September 12, 1985. (AFP)
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Updated 17 July 2023
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Actor, singer and style icon Jane Birkin dies in Paris at age 76

  • Star was known for her musical and romantic relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg.

PARIS: Actor and singer Jane Birkin, who made France her home and charmed the country with her English grace, natural style and social activism, has died at age 76.
The London-born star and fashion icon was known for her musical and romantic relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg. Their songs notably included the steamy “Je t’aime moi non plus" ("I Love You, Me Neither"). Birkin's ethereal, British-accented singing voice interlaced with his gruff baritone in the 1969 duet that helped make her famous and was forbidden in Italy after being denounced in the Vatican newspaper.
The style Birkin displayed in the 1960s and early 1970s — long hair with bangs, jeans paired with white tops, knit mini dresses and basket bags — still epitomizes the height of French chic for many women around the world.
Birkin was also synonymous with a Hermes bag that bore her name. Created by the Paris fashion house in 1984 in her honor, the Birkin bag became one of the world’s most exclusive luxury items, with a stratospheric price tag and years-long waiting list to buy it.

In her adopted France, Birkin was also celebrated for her political activism and campaigning for Amnesty International, Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, the fight against AIDS and other causes.
“You can always do something,” Birkin said in 2001, drumming up support for an Amnesty campaign against torture. “You can say, ‘I am not OK with that.’”
She joined five monks on a march through the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 to demand that Myanmar let foreign aid workers into the country to help cyclone victims.
In 2022, she joined other screen and music stars in France in chopping off locks of their hair in support of protesters in Iran. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Birkin's daughter with Gainsbourg and also an actor in her own right, cut off a snippet of her mother's hair for the “HairForFreedom” campaign as Iran was engulfed by anti-government protests.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed Birkin as a “complete artist,” noting that her soft voice went hand-in-hand with her “ardent” activism.

“Jane Birkin was a French icon because she was the incarnation of freedom, sang the most beautiful words of our language," he tweeted.
French media reported that Birkin was found dead at her Paris home. The French Culture Ministry tweeted that Birkin died Sunday. It hailed her as a “timeless Francophone icon.”
Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak called Birkin “the most French British person" and “the emblem for a whole epoch who never went out of fashion."
Birkin's early movie credits included “Blow-Up” in 1966, credited with helping introduce French audiences to her "Swinging Sixties" style and beauty.
Birkin and Gainsbourg met two years later. She remained his muse even after the couple separated in 1980.

She also had a daughter, Kate, with James Bond composer John Barry. Kate Barry died in 2013 at age 46. Birkin had her third daughter, singer and model Lou Doillon, with French director Jacques Doillon.
Birkin suffered from health issues in recent years that kept her from performing and her public appearances became sparse.
French broadcaster BFMTV said Birkin suffered a mild stroke in 2021, forcing her to cancel shows that year. She canceled her shows again in March due to a broken shoulder blade.
A return to performing was put off in May, with the singer saying she needed a bit more time and promising her fans she would see them again come the fall.


Mona Tougaard stars in new Marc Jacobs campaign

Updated 22 July 2024
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Mona Tougaard stars in new Marc Jacobs campaign

DUBAI: Model Mona Tougaard is the face of Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2024 eyewear collection “The Sunglasses.”

The catwalk star, who has Danish, Turkish, Somali and Ethiopian ancestry, took to Instagram to announce the campaign, posting a photo along with a simple heart emoji.

Last month, Berlin-based magazine-turned-fashion label 032c presented its menswear spring/summer 2025 collection at Paris Fashion Week, where Tougaard featured.

She strutted down the runway in a form-fitting suit with a cropped blazer and a blue buttoned-shirt layered underneath. The look was complemented with dark shades and her hair was slicked back in a low bun.

She was not the only regional model on the runway; Tougaard was joined by British-Moroccan model Nora Attal, who wore a sheer, reflective fishnet-like black dress.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Marc Jacobs (@marcjacobs)

The collection, designed by Maria Koch, is titled “Everything Counts” and included outerwear, feminine suiting and versatile denim co-ords suitable for day and night wear.

Collarless 032c jackets featured tonal gothic lettering, while army parkas and deconstructable cargo pants were paired with boxy vinyl tops.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Joerg Koch / 032c (@032c)

Last month, 032c also announced on Instagram that Tougaard had been named the artistic talent director for the collection.

“Tougaard is an inherent member of the 032c universe, who has starred on our magazine covers, our editorials, and our previous FW-24 show. It is an organic progression to involve Tougaard more closely in 032c’s creative processes together with creative director Maria Koch and fashion director Ras Bartram,” the post read.

Tougaard started 2024 with a bang, gracing the runway for Chanel during Paris Haute Couture Week in January. Tougaard wore a black thigh-high coat-style dress with white buttons and a sheer white skirt underneath, teamed with wore white stockings and black heeled sandals.

Tougaard started her modeling career in 2017 after winning the Elite Model Look Denmark competition at the age of 15. Since then, she has become a prominent figure in the fashion industry, known for her work with top designers and luxury brands including Prada, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Chanel and Valentino.


Squatwolf expands in Saudi Arabia with new warehouse, fitness events

Updated 21 July 2024
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Squatwolf expands in Saudi Arabia with new warehouse, fitness events

  • UAE brand opens warehouse able to handle 30,000 orders a day
  • Company was founded in 2016 by Anam Khalid and Wajdan Gul

DUBAI: From starting as a passion project to now serving athletes in over 200 countries, Squatwolf, the gym-wear brand co-founded by Anam Khalid and Wajdan Gul, is expanding in Saudi Arabia.

The founders have opened a  warehouse in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Arabia warehouse can process up to 30,000 orders a day and ensures same-day delivery in Riyadh and next-day delivery to major cities, including Jeddah, Dammam, Alkhobar and Makkah. (Supplied)

“We take pride in being the first gym-wear brand in the Kingdom that is supporting Vision 2030, fueling the power of the gym as a playground of self-improvement to all,” Khalid told Arab News recently.

“Our Saudi warehouse is a demonstration to our commitment as a UAE brand to support the region and go all in.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SQUATWOLF (@squatwolf)

The Saudi Arabia warehouse can process up to 30,000 orders a day and ensures same-day delivery in Riyadh and next-day delivery to major cities, including Jeddah, Dammam, Alkhobar and Makkah, Gul said.

The brand plans to collaborate with retail and gym partners, local ambassadors and organize community events to support their expansion goals.

“We’re here to recognize every gym-goer, regardless of their fitness level,” Khalid said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SQUATWOLF (@squatwolf)

Gul confirmed that The Squatwolf Games, a prominent fitness event in Dubai, is set to make its debut in Saudi Arabia.

“Yes, Squatwolf Games is coming to Saudi and coming in big. We’re constantly evolving the games to something bigger and better.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SQUATWOLF (@squatwolf)

The brand will also participate in the KSA Muscle Show, further engaging with the local fitness community.

The company was founded in 2016 by Khalid and Gul. “It all started when Gul and I realized there wasn’t a gym-wear brand in the region that matched our love for the gym, its community, and the impact it has on all aspects of our life,” Khalid said.

Gul believes the fitness and activewear market in the Kingdom is booming. “With the Saudi 2030 Vision in place, more gyms are opening up every day, fitness is becoming a way of life and staying healthy is on everyone’s radar,” he explained.

“Being the first gym-wear brand in the MENA region, including Saudi Arabia, gives us a competitive advantage to stay one step ahead across insight-driven product performance, local communities and gym-goer demands,” Khalid added.


Adidas faces backlash for dropping Bella Hadid from sneaker campaign

Updated 19 July 2024
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Adidas faces backlash for dropping Bella Hadid from sneaker campaign

  • Shoes linked to 1972 Munich Games killing of Israeli athletes.

LONDON: Adidas on Friday dropped American model Bella Hadid from an advertising campaign for sneakers that are associated with the 1972 Munich Olympics, following criticism from pro-Israeli groups.

The German sportswear company apologized for the “upset and distress” caused by choosing Hadid, whose father is Palestinian, as the face of its relaunched SL72 sports shoes. The original version of the footwear was created for the 1972 Games, during which 11 Israeli athletes and a German policeman were killed by a Palestinian militant group.

The relaunch of the shoe last week drew criticism from the Israeli government, in a message posted on social media platform X, and several Jewish groups. They questioned the decision by Adidas to select Hadid to advertise a shoe originally associated with an event during which several Israelis were killed.

Adidas said it would “revise” its campaign and added: “We are conscious that connections have been made to tragic historical events, though these are completely unintentional, and we apologize for any upset or distress caused.”

Hadid has repeatedly made public comments critical of the Israeli government and in support of Palestinians over the years. In an Instagram post dated Oct. 23 last year she described the military campaign launched by Israeli authorities following the Oct. 7 attacks as “the most intense bombardment in the history of Gaza,” and lamented the loss of innocent Palestinian lives.

“US White House National Security Council dangerously says Israel ‘owes no one any justification’ and that it will have ‘no red lines.’ Innocent lives should always be justified in the name of humanity,” she added.

“Israel has completely shut off telecommunications and electricity across Gaza. Injured civilians currently can’t call ambulances. Medics are begging reporters to let them know where bombardments are happening, but reporters don’t know either because of the internet outage. The people of Gaza have nowhere to go. Children are dying. Please.”

The decision to drop Hadid from the campaign prompted a wave of support for the model on social media, with figures such as journalists Mehdi Hasan and Candace Owens criticizing Adidas. Some people called for a boycott of the company.
 


What We Are Buying Today: Saudi brand ‘Lora’ skincare product

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Updated 19 July 2024
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What We Are Buying Today: Saudi brand ‘Lora’ skincare product

  • The brand’s products are inspired by the 13 regions of the Kingdom, with scents sourced from around the country to reflect Saudi cultural heritage

Lora, a Saudi brand operating under the Ministry of Culture and Al-Balad Development Program, offers a range of natural, handmade soap and skincare products that showcase the rich agricultural heritage of the Kingdom.

All products are crafted using local ingredients from around Saudi Arabia, including olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, shea butter and glycerin.

Located in the heart of historic Al-Balad, a UNESCO heritage site, Lora blends art, culture and nature. The brand’s products are inspired by the 13 regions of the Kingdom, with scents sourced from around the country to reflect Saudi cultural heritage.

Lora’s product range includes 12 types of natural, handmade soap blocks, as well as body, hair and beard oils, and facial care products infused with fragrances such as kadi, full, Arabian jasmine, Taifi rose, lavender, rosemary and more.

Flora’s signature soaps are not only affordable, but also high quality, gentle on the skin and highly moisturizing. They effectively combat acne and dryness, and enhance skin texture.

For those interested in skincare and soap-making, Lora offers soap-making workshops and classes led by owner Hashim Al-Shawi.

The 90-minute workshop provides theoretical and practical training, with the necessary materials, shapes, molds, natural coloring and fragrances provided. Participants can take home their handmade soap block, perfect for personal use or as a gift.

For those with a basic understanding of soap-making, Lora offers a 10-day informative diploma program to become a certified soap maker.

 


Mohammed Khoja pays homage to the Kingdom in latest collection 

Updated 20 July 2024
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Mohammed Khoja pays homage to the Kingdom in latest collection 

  • The Saudi fashion designer discusses his new shirts, inspired by different regions of his homeland 

RIYADH: “I was very motivated by (the idea of) integrating my experiences as a Saudi and contributing to the creation of a more contemporary Saudi design identity through my point of view,” Saudi fashion designer Mohammed Khoja, founder of luxury label Hindamme, tells Arab News. “My ultimate goal is to open more doors and to spread Saudi culture to global audiences. 

“Hindamme has grown considerably since its inception, and I am very optimistic about what’s to come. I believe brands such as mine are proving to be more lucrative and I’ve observed an uptick in demand, and opportunities for growth, in recent months,” he continues. 

Hindamme is an old Arabic adjective that roughly “a harmonious aesthetic form.” That is what Khoja hopes to capture in each of his creations — combining a bold but minimalist approach to ready-to-wear fashion.  

Mohammed Khoja is the founder of luxury label Hindamme. (Supplied)

Hindamme’s “Season V” collection, for example, drew on color theory, and included “mood-enhancing” gradients as well as futuristic, nature-inspired themes in fabrics including velvet, nylon, and satin. Khoja debuted those designs in Paris in June last year, along with 15 other Saudi designers at a pop-up event called Emerge, organized by the Saudi Fashion Commission and MoCX, the Saudi Ministry of Culture's General Department of Innovation, in partnership with the Saudi Visual Arts Commission, the Saudi Culinary Arts Commission, and the Saudi Music Commission.  

“Season V” was designed during COVID-19 lockdowns, and was partly inspired by Khoja’s desire to “reconnect” with the Earth. It included a heat temperature-gradient blazer, which Khoja intended as a stark reminder of the threat of climate change. 

For his latest collection, his sixth, the designer was inspired by different regions of his homeland.  

“It is inspired by my love of travel and pays homage to the Kingdom’s drive to promote tourism. I designed pieces that were sort of like elevated post cards for every region — it truly is like a love letter to our cultural diversity. The new designs are also a lesson in visual storytelling; they invite you on a journey to discover each of these glorious regions.” Khoja says.  

Khoja says he spent months conducting extensive research. “I integrated the landmarks of each region that I felt were the most iconic and synonymous. Each design incorporates the iconography of that area, such as Jeddah, Riyadh, Aseer, Eastern Province and AlUla.” 

Here, Khoja discusses some of the pieces from his latest collection. 

AlUla 

“The ancient languages and rock art are important elements for AlUla because of its rich ancient history of Lihyanite and Nabatean civilizations, so I utilized it for the shirt. Along with the ancient inscriptions and carvings, the AlUla shirt is decorated with famous ancient sites and landmarks such as Hegra and Elephant Rock, along with the integration of the majestic Arabian leopard,” the designer says. 

Aseer  

Khoja’s Aseer silk shirt includes a hand-painted backdrop of Rijal AlMaa village, decorated with Al-Qatt Al-Aseeri patterns, which the designer credits as a major source of inspiration throughout his career. “Aseeri culture has always been a great influence. I grew up reading books about the beautiful crafts and how women of the region specialized in this art,” the designer says, adding that Al-Qatt Al-Assiri was also the inspiration for his debut collection. 

Jeddah  

“Jeddah is a colorful array of iconography representing the bright colors of the coastal city,” Khoja says. “Jeddah is very famous for its breathtaking sunsets and I wanted to present its sunsets as the centerpiece. The shirt also includes the famous fountain as well as architecture from Jeddah’s historical district, Al-Balad.” 

Eastern province 

“With the Eastern Province design, I featured iconic landmarks of the region, with refences to Jabal Qarra in AlAhsa, Ithra and Dammam Well No. 7 — the first oil well discovered in the Kingdom,” says Khoja. 

Riyadh 

“The Riyadh silk shirt is another piece of visual storytelling and features iconic modern-day landmarks of our beloved capital such as KAFD, Kingdom Tower, and Al-Faisaliyah Tower. It infuses the rich traditions of its past with a neon homage to Diriyah and motif patterns taken from old Najdi doors,” Khoja said.