Designer Stella McCartney talks sustainability, fashion and saving the planet at COP28 in Dubai

McCartney helms the world’s first luxury house to never use animal leather, feathers, fur or skins. (Supplied)
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Updated 08 December 2023
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Designer Stella McCartney talks sustainability, fashion and saving the planet at COP28 in Dubai

  • McCartney helms world’s first luxury house to never use animal leather, feathers, fur or skins
  • Briton calls for tighter government regulations, incentives for sustainable production

DUBAI: For more than two decades British designer Stella McCartney has been on a mission to produce her fashion line adhering to sustainable methods of production, to combat climate change and reduce the industry’s damaging effects on the planet.

McCartney helms the world’s first luxury house to never use animal leather, feathers, fur or skins. She also adopted extensive sustainability principles following the Livestock’s Long Shadow Report in 2006, which linked animal agriculture with climate harm.

Titled “Stella McCartney’s Sustainable Market: Innovating Tomorrow’s Solutions,” and running until the culmination of COP28 on Dec. 12, she is also hosting a space at the environmental conference in Dubai that presents highlights from her latest collection.




Titled “Stella McCartney’s Sustainable Market: Innovating Tomorrow’s Solutions,” she is also hosting a space at the environmental conference in Dubai that presents highlights from her latest collection. (Supplied)

In addition, McCartney’s showcasing new breakthrough discoveries in regenerative agriculture, bio- and plant-based alternatives to plastic, animal leather and fur, and traditional fibers. Among these is a grape-based alternative to animal leather discovered in partnership with Veuve Clicquot, and the debut of the world’s first garments crafted from Protein Evolution’s biologically recycled and infinitely recyclable polyester.

“I am the first to say coming to COP28 is not the easy route; you need to have purpose and passion not only to get a seat at the table, but just to get heard at all,” the designer told Arab News. “Especially when you’re a woman. However, if I do not represent the industry at COP28, who will?”

“Fashion is not an island; our industry impacts everyone, everywhere,” she continued. “There are no laws or legalization that control how people are working. Every second, a truckful of fast fashion is burnt or sent to landfill.”




McCartney’s showcasing new breakthrough discoveries in regenerative agriculture, bio- and plant-based alternatives to plastic, animal leather and fur, and traditional fibers. (Supplied)

The fashion industry, according to the UN Environment Programme, is responsible for around 8 percent of all global carbon emissions.

Adding to the challenge of reducing its global greenhouse gas footprint is also the concern that the industry will grow due to increased consumption patterns and population. 

“If we want to leave a better world for the next generation, we need to have a voice here calling for change — encouraging both private and public leaders to join us by investing in and incentivizing innovation, creating less and doing more with what we already have, and being kinder to our fellow creatures, humans and Mother Earth. We have to stay positive, and proactive,” she told Arab News.




McCartney at COP28. (Supplied)

McCartney attended COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where she declared that the fashion industry was “getting away with murder” due to a lack of accountability and poor self-regulation.

How does McCartney believe change can take place?

“Governments and policymakers can start by putting tax breaks and benefits in place for more sustainable, circular and cruelty-free practices. We are penalized, not incentivized, to work with vegan alternatives to leather,” she explained. “We need government leaders who are brave enough to step up and say no to the powerful leather, fur and agricultural industries that are so afraid of our cruelty-free future,” she said.

“We need policy change, because fashion is one of the most harmful industries on the planet,” she declared. “I have never used leather or fur, but that is because I had the privilege of being raised by two vegetarians and animal rights activists. So, I self-police myself. Nobody else would do that. Governments need to step in and make it worthwhile for brands to do the same, or regulate them, because I can tell you after 22 years, it is not easy.”




The designer’s latest collaboration with Veuve Clicquot serves as an example of what can happen when people from different industries, but with similar sustainable perspectives, come together to champion the same cause. (Supplied)

McCartney has been advocating for governments to change the way they approach vegan alternatives, which is what she incorporates in her designs.

“Our cruelty-free innovations are often taxed 30 percent more than skins that come from animals. How disgusting is that?” she told Arab News.

“Animal agriculture (which is where leather comes from) is responsible for 80 percent of the Amazon’s deforested areas, which has a huge impact on biodiversity as well as the release and sequestering of greenhouse gases,” she added. “One billion animals die annually for leather, so one place the fashion industry could start is by stopping the use of leather.”

The designer’s latest collaboration with Veuve Clicquot serves as an example of what can happen when people from different industries, but with similar sustainable perspectives, come together to champion the same cause.

“We used the harvest by-product from Veuve Clicquot’s regeneratively grown, traceable grape harvest and innovated a new vegan alternative to leather that is on display here at my sustainable market,” she added. “Could you imagine 10 years ago saying that a champagne maison and a fashion house had come together to innovate a luxury material? Time is ticking towards 2030; this kind of outside-the-box thinking and collaboration is what we need more of not only at COP28, but everywhere,” she said.


Brazil’s Foz do Iguacu, Jordan’s Petra become sister cities

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Brazil’s Foz do Iguacu, Jordan’s Petra become sister cities

  • This year is 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries
  • Mayor: Brazil seeks to ‘strengthen commercial, cultural, friendship relations’ with Arab states

SAO PAULO: Foz do Iguacu in Brazil and Petra in Jordan officially became sister cities this week.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by Foz do Iguacu’s Mayor Chico Brasileiro and Maen Masadeh, Jordan’s ambassador to Brazil.
The ceremony took place at the Palacio Cataratas, the city hall headquarters in Foz do Iguacu.
The MoU consolidates a partnership that promises to strengthen cooperation in various areas such as culture, local economic development, public services and social policies.
“In 2024, we celebrate 65 years of diplomatic relations between Brazil and Jordan, and signing this document … means that we (Foz do Iguacu and Petra) are aligned with foreign policy,” Masadeh said.
The process began in 2018 when the Foz do Iguacu city hall expressed its interest in establishing ties with Petra, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Wonders of the World.
Foz do Iguacu has one of the seven Natural Wonders, the Iguacu Falls, and one of the Wonders of the World, the Itaipu Dam.
“We are very excited about this partnership,” Brasileiro said at the signing ceremony. “This is a strategy of Brazil, to … strengthen its commercial, cultural and friendship relations with Arab countries.”
The first concrete step toward implementing the MoU took place on Thursday with the opening of the exhibition “City of Petra, Jordan” at the Cultural Foundation in Foz do Iguacu.
The free exhibition, which will continue until the end of March, portrays the historical and archaeological richness of Petra in southern Jordan, with stunning images, authentic artifacts and detailed information.
“The presence of this exhibition in our city is not only a celebration of the history and beauty of Petra, but also a bridge that connects our communities in a special way,” said Juca Rodrigues, president of the foundation.
“Cultural diversity is a treasure that should be shared and appreciated by all, and this exhibition is a crucial step in that direction.”
Jihad Abu Ali, director of international affairs in Foz do Iguacu, said: “This is a moment of joy and fulfillment, as we see the materialization of the fruit of a collective effort to promote cultural understanding and friendship between our communities.”


AlUla gets its very first global campaign, ‘Forever Revitalising’

Updated 01 March 2024
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AlUla gets its very first global campaign, ‘Forever Revitalising’

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s ancient city of AlUla is launching its first-ever global marketing campaign.

Revealed on Feb. 29 with launch events in six major international cities — Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai and Mumbai — “Forever Revitalizing” is being described as a “data-driven endeavor” that aims to redefine tourism in the region.

Melanie D’Souza, executive director of destination marketing at The Royal Commission for AlUla, described the new brand campaign as a “transformative moment” for AlUla as it looks beyond the historic site’s travel potential to spotlight the programs and initiatives designed to “create a better future for all those who live, work and visit our ancient oasis.

“This initiative redefines AlUla as more than just a travel destination by emphasizing its profound heritage, breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural tapestry, presenting a holistic view that transcends the conventional,” she told Arab News in an email interview.

As AlUla’s first-ever global marketing campaign, “Forever Revitalizing” has been launched with the goal of transforming the city into a world-renowned heritage and cultural destination.

“At its core, ‘Forever Revitalising’ aims to drive visitor numbers and spur economic prosperity by showcasing AlUla’s comprehensive revitalization efforts. From ecological restoration projects within nature reserves to the rejuvenation of age-old crafts and traditions, and the advancement of local skills and cultural enrichment, the campaign positions AlUla as a pioneering figure in the creation of an experience-driven economy,” said D’Souza.

AlUla Old Town. (Supplied)

The new campaign coincides with a significant increase in visitor numbers to AlUla, rising from 185,000 in 2022 to 263,000 last year, she added.

Additionally, the share of international visitors increased from 25 percent to 35 percent, reflecting the destination’s growing global appeal.

“This aligns with AlUla’s strategic vision for ‘light touch tourism,’ aiming to attract 1.1 million visitors by 2030, while steadfastly maintaining its commitment to sustainability and preserving the destination’s integrity,” she said.

Hegra AlUla. (Supplied)

The campaign is specifically targeting four kinds of travelers: The luxe seeker, wanderlust nomad, intrepid voyager, and affluent and active retirees. This highlights AlUla’s amibition to remain a luxury destination.

“Modern tourists, increasingly disillusioned with overcrowded and inauthentic destinations, seek authentic, meaningful connections. They prefer destinations that offer a genuine sense of place, sustainability and social responsibility — qualities that AlUla has been promoting since opening its doors to the world three years ago,” said D’Souza.

The recently opened Dar Tantora The House Hotel in AlUla Old Town is a promising new addition to the area, D’Souza said.

The hotel was designed by Egyptian architect Shahira Fahmy.

Fahmy, who was selected by The Royal Commission for AlUla, and her team restored 30 buildings in the historical village. They turned multiple old two-story mud-brick buildings into the boutique hotel.  

The architect previously told Arab News that the early inhabitants in the city used the ground floor as a workplace and to meet with family and friends, while the first floor was for bedrooms and bathrooms.  

People who lived in the city 800 years ago whitewashed the interior walls and adorned them with red and blue murals, Fahmy said. Her team managed to preserve the existing designs in collaboration with the archaeological team. 

Banyan Tree Resort AlUla Canyon Pool. (Supplied)

“This boutique hotel revitalizes the ancient mud-brick structures of Old Town, which was continuously inhabited since the 12th century until the 1980s. It stands out for its commitment to cultural preservation, employing local artisans for restoration efforts and showcasing the area’s rich heritage through traditional decor, furniture and artistic treatments, complemented by storytelling elements that bring the intangible heritage of the area to life,” she added.

Looking ahead, three new luxury hotels are all set to open in AlUla.

“The Sharaan Resort by Jean Nouvel, inspired by ancient Nabataean architecture, promises to blend seamlessly with the Sharaan Nature Reserve’s landscape, embodying innovative design while respecting the environment,” said D’Souza.

“The Chedi Hegra is another milestone, positioned within Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra. Opening in mid-2024, it will offer guests unparalleled access to the historic site, featuring guest rooms with views of Hegra’s monumental landscape, an International Summit Center, hospitality pavilions and private villas,” she added.

In 2027, AlUla will welcome the AZULIK AlUla Resort. “This project, a collaboration between AZULIK and Roth Architecture, will be located in the Nabatean Horizon District, integrating design elements that highlight ancient rock art, utilize natural waterways for irrigation and promote eco-friendly transport to minimize environmental impact,” said D’Souza.


British e-tailer unveils modest fashions for Ramadan by global designers

Updated 01 March 2024
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British e-tailer unveils modest fashions for Ramadan by global designers

  • Creations of 30 regional and international designers will be available until the end of April

DUBAI: British luxury e-tail platform Farfetch has unveiled a modest-wear fashion campaign for Ramadan by 30 regional and international designers, which will be available until the end of April.

Beyond ready-to-wear garments, the exclusive collections also have fine jewelry, footwear and homeware.

The participating labels include Dubai-based brands Bambah, Baruni and Dina Melwani, Italian label Brunello Cucinelli, Swiss jewelry brand Chopard, South African British label De Beers, Lebanese brands Jean Louis Sabaji, Saiid Kobeisy and Rayane Bacha, Italian fashion house Missoni, Turkish label Les Ottomans, British label Malone, Budapest-based fashion house Nanushka, Amsterdam-based brand Polspotten, Australian label Rachel Gilbert, New York-based Sachin & Babi, Emirati label Shatha Essa and British brand Yoko London.

Gaby Charbachy, Isabel Marant. (Supplied)

From impeccably tailored suits to striking kaftans, modest evening dresses to luxurious loungewear, the collections cater to various tastes and occasions, with a focus on the social aspect of the month of Ramadan.

Egyptian designer Maha Abdul Rasheed, founder of Bambah, told Arab News: “We are so proud to be partnering with Farfetch once again for this year’s modest-wear campaign. The marketplace business model is diverse, efficient and helps us work at a sustainable pace.”

Bambah. (Supplied)

“The platform itself is also very technologically advanced which helps us streamline operations and logistics in a timely manner,” she added.

From glamorous evening gowns adorned with elaborate embellishments to chic separates with a modern twist, Bambah ensembles work well for a formal sahoor gathering.

Shatha Essa. (Supplied)

Emirati designer Essa said the inspiration for her capsule collection “draws from the intricate interplay of nature’s subtleties, reimagined through an abstract lens, emphasizing the brand’s commitment to innovation and luxury.”

She added that Farfetch has been “a gate to the world for Shatha Essa.”

“(It is) an invaluable platform to showcase our collections,” the Dubai-based contemporary womenswear expert told Arab News. “The platform has significantly amplified our reach, enabling our unique and traditional designs to touch a wider, discerning audience.”

Essa’s collections often feature luxurious fabrics, intricate embroidery and embellishments. Whether it is a flowing abaya, a structured blazer, or a statement dress, Essa’s designs blend traditional elements with contemporary silhouettes.


Saudi fashion shines at Paris Fashion Week: 16 designers showcase latest collections

Updated 01 March 2024
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Saudi fashion shines at Paris Fashion Week: 16 designers showcase latest collections

DUBAI: Sixteen Saudi fashion designers are showing off their latest collections at an international wholesale exhibition during Paris Fashion Week.

The Saudi 100 Brands showcase, which runs until March 2, is an initiative spearheaded by the Saudi Fashion Commission and aims to position Saudi designers and brands within the global fashion landscape.

Karen Wazen at the showcase. (Supplied)

This season’s presentation features all-women-owned and led brands.

The festivities are taking place at the historic Les Cordeliers, coinciding with the women’s segment of Paris Fashion Week.

The participating brands include The Dropped Collection. (Supplied)

“The event includes fashion shows and celebratory gatherings, highlighting the cultural richness and creative prowess of Saudi fashion,” a statement from the Saudi Fashion Commission read.

The participating designers include Mona Alshebil, Apoa, Ashwaq Almarshad, Chador, Charmaleena, Dazluq, Kaf by Kaf, Mashael Al-Faris, MD29, Abadia, Pavone, RMRM, Samar Nasraldin, The Dropped Collection, Yasmina Q and Yataghan Jewellery.


Georgina Rodriguez stars in new campaign for Arab lenses brand

Updated 01 March 2024
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Georgina Rodriguez stars in new campaign for Arab lenses brand

DUBAI: Argentine model Georgina Rodriguez is starring in another campaign for Arab brand Amara Lenses, whose products are available in the Gulf region.

In the short clip, posted on the brand’s Instagram page on Thursday, the Netflix star was spotted sporting the company’s brown and grey lenses.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Amara Lenses (@amaralenses)

In one shot, she was seen wearing face accessories inspired by the Gulf region’s burqa.  

“Introducing our latest collection in collaboration with Georgina Rodriguez,” the brand captioned the post on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Amara Lenses (@amaralenses)

Rodriguez, who is now based in Saudi Arabia with her partner Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and their children, was named the brand ambassador in March 2023.

“I’m so happy to be the face of Amara Lenses and it’s been wonderful to work with you,” she said in a video shared on the brand’s Instagram page at the time.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Amara Lenses (@amaralenses)

Amara Lenses has previously collaborated with regional influencers including Saudi Arabian makeup artist Shouq Artist, Kuwaiti fashion blogger Fouz Al-Fahad, Bahraini content creator Zainab Al-Alwan, Kuwaiti influencer Fatima Al-Momen, and Egyptian actress Nour Ghandou.

The Arab brand sells lenses in various shades of grey, brown, green and blue.