Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

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From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event. (Photos by Huda Bashatah)
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From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event. (Photos by Huda Bashatah)
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From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event. (Photos by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 24 February 2024
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Saudi Cup kicks off in Riyadh with a showcase of traditional fashion

  • From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event
  • The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world

RIYADH: The Saudi Cup, the Kingdom’s annual international horse race, returned this weekend in Riyadh for its fifth edition with a head-turning display of fashion.

From bespoke creations designed exclusively by and for style icons to bold original outfits, guests were dressed in striking attire for the event that takes place Feb. 23 and 24.

Princess Nourah Al-Faisal, special adviser to the chairman of the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, spoke to Arab News about fashion at the event — and the vision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the event. 




Princess Nourah Al-Faisal wore an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

He “really had a vision, and not just for fashion, but he had this idea that he wanted the event to represent our culture and our heritage in every way possible,” she said.

“I have to say I am delighted and super excited by it and especially this reintroduction of our heritage to the younger generation … (and) seeing what this younger generation is doing with that, you know the experimentation,” she added.

Princess Nourah donned an intricately embroidered tulle covering over a robe with embroidered detailing on the cuffs from Art of Heritage.

Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan also showed off attire inspired by his country.

“Today, I’m wearing Siraj Sanad — he’s a Saudi (designer) in Jeddah. As you can see, it is heritage-style clothing with three embroidered triangles which Najd is known for,” he said, referring to the Saudi region of Najd which is famous for its triangles visible in architecture and embroidery.




Influencer and model Rakan Alhamdan. (Photo by Huda Bashatah)

Other guests showed off a rainbow of colors at the fashion-forward event, with modern takes on Saudi attire spotted across the venue — from gemstone-covered burqas to elegant kaftans complete with heavy embroidery.

The Saudi Cup carries a prize fund of $35.4 million, with the $20 million Saudi Cup race itself maintaining its position as the most valuable race in the world.

- Additional reporting by Hams Saleh


Saudi film ‘Norah’ selected for Cannes, first from Kingdom in festival’s 77-year history

Updated 11 April 2024
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Saudi film ‘Norah’ selected for Cannes, first from Kingdom in festival’s 77-year history

  • Film premiered in Saudi Arabia in December at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah
  • Will be included in prestigious “Un Certain Regard” section at Cannes

LONDON: A Saudi film has been named in the Cannes Film Festival’s official selection for the first time, it was announced on Thursday.

The Kingdom’s first selection is called “Norah,” filmed entirely in AlUla, directed by Tawfik Alzaidi and set in 1990s Saudi Arabia when conservatism ruled and the pursuit of all art, including painting, was banned.

It follows the story of Nader, a failed artist who becomes a schoolteacher, played by Yaqoub Alfarhan, who assists the eponymous young girl, played by Maria Bahrawi, to realize her artistic potential in an oppressive rural setting.

Maria Bahrawi on the set of ‘Norah,’ in AlUla. (Supplied)

The film premiered in Saudi Arabia in December at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah and it will be included in the prestigious “Un Certain Regard” section of the French film festival, which recognizes new talent and unconventional narratives and runs alongside the famous “Palme D’Or” competition.

“Norah” will be in competition with 19 other films from around the world.

Speaking to Arab News in November last year before its premiere, Alzaidi said that he hoped it would inspire future generations to never let a dream die.

“I don’t think this is a film that’s trying to have one message — art is subjective, after all,” he said. “But when audiences of the next generation see this film, I want them to remember one thing: Believe in yourself. And if you have a voice, never stop fighting for it.” 

Saudi filmmaker Tawfik Alzaidi’s masterful directorial debut 'Norah' is the first Saudi film to be shot entirely in the Kingdom’s historic AlUla region. (Supplied)

Bahrawi echoed Alzaidi’s sentiments, adding that playing Norah in the film inspired her to not allow anything to dissuade her from fulfilling her potential.

“(Norah) taught me to be myself, to be true to my own spirit, and stand up for myself despite all the challenges,” she told Arab News in an interview. “From now and for the rest of my life, because of Norah, if I don’t find support, I will support myself. I want to find success, and I’ll do it against all odds.” 

Saudi Arabia lifted its 35-year ban on cinema in 2017 and has since seen its burgeoning film scene go from strength to strength, including building a strong relationship with the Cannes festival since first having a delegation there in 2018.

The 2024 festival will run from May 14 to May 25.


Eid escapes: A guide to relaxing holiday destinations in the Kingdom

Updated 11 April 2024
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Eid escapes: A guide to relaxing holiday destinations in the Kingdom

  • Saudi Arabia’s diverse landscapes beckon adventurers to explore its natural wonders
  • Saudi Arabia’s renowned tourism project, The Red Sea, is welcoming guests with the opening of The St. Regis Red Sea Resort

JEDDAH: After a month of worship, many people during Eid Al-Fitr break seek fun and relaxation. For those looking for a serene and rejuvenating destination, Saudi Arabia offers an array of options. From luxury resorts to sustainable desert getaways, the Kingdom provides diverse choices to suit all preferences.

Here is a curated list of destinations for a perfect Eid getaway.

The St. Regis Red Sea Resort

Saudi Arabia’s renowned tourism project, The Red Sea, is welcoming guests with the opening of The St. Regis Red Sea Resort. Situated on the Ummahat Islands in the Al-Wajh Lagoon, this luxurious resort features 90 beachfront and overwater villas, each boasting private pools and stunning views. Designed by architect Kengo Kuma, the resort’s aesthetic reflects the beauty of coral reefs and dunes. Guests can dine al fresco at five beachside venues and enjoy Japanese-inspired cuisine at Gishiki 45 and Tilina. The resort offers a spa, gym, and outdoor lap pool, all powered by renewable energy. Rates start from $1,866 per night.

Six Senses Southern Dunes

Nestled amid rolling dunes and the Hijaz Mountains, Six Senses Southern Dunes offers a unique retreat. With rooms, suites, and villas designed under tent-like roofs, the resort blends modern luxury with traditional charm. Guests can enjoy spacious accommodations with outdoor terraces and private pools. The resort’s spa spans 4,000 square feet and offers a range of treatments. Activities include cooking classes and fishing tours, and dining options cater to diverse palates. Rates start from SR4,380 ($1,168) for a Wadi King Room, with a commitment to sustainability.

AlUla: A haven of history and natural beauty

Located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, AlUla is renowned for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and archaeological wonders. Home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Nabatean tombs at Hegra and ancient rock art, AlUla offers visitors a glimpse into ancient civilizations. The region is undergoing extensive development to enhance its tourism infrastructure while preserving its cultural heritage and natural beauty.

Here are some top accommodations in AlUla for an unforgettable Eid escape experience:

Habitas AlUla: A sustainable desert resort offering luxury accommodations amid the desert canyons of the Ashar Valley, Habitas AlUla features 96 guest villas, each designed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. Guests can enjoy a range of facilities, including wellness centers, dining options, and a large infinity swimming pool.

Caravan by Habitas AlUla: Caravan provides a unique luxury camping experience in the picturesque Ashar Valley with exclusive Airstream trailers offering either an oasis or mountainous view. Each of the 22 deluxe trailers features panoramic views, air conditioning, WiFi, a queen-size bed (or two single beds), an indoor lounge, a kitchenette, and a private shower and bathroom. Prices range from SR1500 to SR2500 per night.

Ashar Tented Resort: Nestled amid the sweeping desert sands and rugged rock formations of the Ashar Valley, this luxury camping experience immerses guests in AlUla’s spectacular scenery. With access to five-star facilities at the neighboring Banyan Tree Hotel, guests can enjoy a comfortable and memorable stay.

Banyan Tree AlUla: Offering breathtaking views of the Ashar Valley, Banyan Tree AlUla features 47 elegant tented villas adorned with authentic Arabian-inspired details. Committed to sustainability and well-being, the resort advocates for environmental conservation and cultural preservation.

Whether you seek luxury, tranquility, or cultural immersion, AlUla offers a range of experiences to suit every traveler’s preference.

Explore the region’s rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and unparalleled hospitality for an unforgettable Eid getaway: www.experiencealula.com.

Adventures and sightseeing

Many seek the perfect getaway to unwind and connect with nature. In Saudi Arabia, adventure-seekers have a plethora of options thanks to the diverse terrains that span the Kingdom. From sandy deserts to rugged mountains and lush valleys, there is something for everyone to explore.

Guiding adventurers across the Kingdom

Saudi Trips, a leading adventure agency, offers a range of trips and hikes across the Kingdom. Founded by Ibrahim Saad, the agency aims to provide visitors with the best Eid experience, tailored to their preferences and budget.

Saad highlights some of the prime camping and hiking spots, including the iconic AlUla region, the mysterious Dark Cave in Tabuk, and the picturesque Wadi Al-Disah in Jazan.

“In my opinion, the best destinations during Eid break are the sandy areas, caves, and valleys,” Saad told Arab News. “Activities vary according to the terrain, including walking on the sand, mountain climbing, and descending.”

Other notable destinations Saad mentioned include Lajab Valley, the Caravans Trail along the Tuwaiq Mountains, Thumama, and Mount Qarah in the Eastern Province.

Happy escape

For those seeking a unique experience, Ahway, a Saudi tourism project, offers well-equipped caravans in scenic locations. Founded by Saeed Azhar, Ahway aims to promote local tourism while providing visitors with a chance to disconnect from city life and immerse themselves in nature. Starting in Taif, the project plans to expand to other regions like AlUla and Tabuk, offering guests a chance to explore Saudi Arabia’s stunning landscapes.

Diverse landscapes

Khalid Al-Rabiah, CEO of Ghamra Adventures Agency, spoke to Arab News about the allure of Saudi Arabia’s diverse landscapes during Eid.

“Being in a large city like Riyadh, the nearby areas, especially Thadiq National Park and the dunes and valleys of Rughabah Village, are considered prime destinations for Eid escape, especially with their unique nature and the presence of hiking trails and mountain ridges spanning over 70 km.

“There is also a growing trend of camping in the unique natural environments of Hail and Tabuk, known for their peculiar mountains with strange formations and golden sands.”

Ali Al-Abdali, a tour guide in Jazan, describes the region as a haven for hiking and wilderness enthusiasts not only for the Eid holiday but throughout the year.

From stunning beaches along the Red Sea to rugged mountains like Al-Ardah and Al-Rayth, Jazan offers diverse landscapes for outdoor activities.

As Eid approaches, Saudi Arabia’s natural attractions beckon adventurers, both local and international, to explore and create unforgettable memories amid breathtaking scenery.


Top restaurant suggestions across the Kingdom during Eid holidays

Updated 11 April 2024
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Top restaurant suggestions across the Kingdom during Eid holidays

  • Suhail provides an authentic Saudi hospitality experience based on traditional cuisine
  • Le Grenier a Pain in Riyadh is a charming French bakery and brunch spot

JEDDAH: The Eid breakfast, when loved ones come together to share delicious food and create lasting memories, is a cherished tradition. If you are looking to elevate your Eid breakfast experience, here are some top restaurants from around the Kingdom:

Suhail

Suhail provides an authentic Saudi hospitality experience based on traditional cuisine. Its ambiance takes inspiration from the captivating allure of the Arabian Peninsula desert, offering a comfortable setting for diners.

Lute Twaiq

Indulge in Italian and Levantine cuisine at Lute Twaiq. The Riyadh restaurant offers a breakfast buffet featuring traditional Italian and Levantine delicacies, including pasta, risotto and Neapolitan pizzas. Options like the eggplant beef hamsa are also available, prepared in the Neapolitan style. Eid breakfast starts at 6 a.m., perfect for early morning celebrations. Dammam residents can also enjoy Lute Twaiq at a branch in the city.

Le Grenier a Pain

Le Grenier a Pain in Riyadh is a charming French bakery and brunch spot. The menu features an array of French baked treats, including flaky croissants, buttery pain au chocolat and indulgent quiches. For Eid breakfast, Le Grenier a Pain serves specially prepared dips and diverse cheese platters, ideal for sit-down family gatherings or as a grab-and-go option.

ALFOLK

Enjoy breakfast at ALFOLK in Shangri La Hotel, featuring an international cuisine spread for SR595 ($158) per person. Alongside delicious dishes, guests can enjoy live music by two talented musicians, a photo booth and fun activities like face painting and clown performances. A fun-filled morning is the perfect start for Eid festivities.

The Waterfront Kitchen

The Waterfront Kitchen serves breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. After enjoying a delicious meal, guests can continue their Eid celebrations with the regular lunch menu. Families can also take advantage of two hours of complimentary access to the kids’ club.

Burnt restaurant

Celebrate Eid at Burnt restaurant with a morning feast featuring a curated menu of dishes. Try the cheese platter, offering three dips paired with flavorful accompaniments for SR43. The restaurant also serves fried Asian eggs, a fusion of roasted potato and kohlrabi with Korean chili and miso, topped with fried eggs and sesame, for SR24.

Atareek Al-Madi

Atareek is a cultural hub featuring a museum, art gallery and space for Hijazi folk celebrations. It showcases traditional karweet and mirkaz wooden benches adorned with intricate Arabesque designs. Atareek’s Eid breakfast serves popular Saudi dishes like mugalgal, mandi lamb, Saudi white coffee and Ta’ateemah.

Pattis France

Pattis France, nestled on Prince Turki Corniche Road along the Alkhobar waterfront, provides a refined setting for an elegant Eid morning with family. The menu boasts a variety of egg dishes — scrambled, poached, or as omelets — alongside French baked treats and artisan desserts.

Fatte w Snobar

Fatte w Snobar offers authentic Levantine cuisine across multiple branches in Alkhobar, Dammam, Al-Ahsa, Abha, Al-Qassim and Madinah. The restaurant provides convenient breakfasts and grab-and-go packages perfect for Eid. These curated boxes feature a variety of dishes, including creamy hummus, foul, crispy falafel, succulent kebdah, omelets, assorted cheeses, pickles and fresh salads.

Mild

Located in the heart of King Abdullah Branch Road in Madinah, Mild offers a modern culinary experience perfect for Eid breakfast. With a chic and contemporary interior, Mild presents a carefully crafted menu that blends international flavors with local inspirations. From cheese platters to Arabic falafel bowls, refreshing falafel salads to bold bruschetta bowls, and Mexican omelets to Tunisian shakshuka, there are choices for every palate. With options ranging from sandwiches to tacos and focaccia, Mild ensures a pleasant dining experience for all.


Saudi artists join roster for prestigious Sotheby’s auction 

Updated 11 April 2024
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Saudi artists join roster for prestigious Sotheby’s auction 

  • Highlights from Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Middle East sale, which runs April 11-25 

DUBAI: Here are the highlights from Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Middle East sale, which runs Apr. 11-25.

 

Abdulhalim Radwi 

‘Untitled’ 

Radwi’s ability “to merge popular culture and sentiments with newly acquired artistic techniques serves as a precursor to contemporary Saudi art today,” Sotheby’s states in its auction notes. Radwi’s mother — an artist herself — is credited with nurturing his ability as a child, but it was in Rome in the 1960s that his skills truly flourished as he began to explore abstraction. He is recognized as one of the first Saudis to pursue further education abroad, and in the seven years he lived in Italy, he exhibited nine times. When he returned to his homeland in 1968, he began to teach art. “Though absorbed by Western artistic discourses, Radwi did not stray from local heritage and traditions, and instead invoked his own narrative of the Arab world through cubism and expressionism, setting himself apart from his contemporaries,” the auction notes state. 

This piece, according to Sotheby’s is “exemplary” of Radwi’s later work, “which became more engaged with the artist’s cultural identity.” It depicts the old neighborhoods of Saudi towns “through a futurist scene blending traditional Ottoman architecture with contemporary influences.”  

The notes continue: “The very essence of his works lies not in their physicality but in the emotions they trigger.”  

 

Taha Al-Sabban  

‘Untitled (Boats)’ 

Al-Sabban was born in Makkah in 1948, just eight years after Abdulhalim Radwi. The latter became something of a mentor to Al-Sabban, having, according to Sotheby’s “a profound effect” on his development as an artist, selecting him for one of the first exhibitions at the Jeddah Centre of Fine Arts. Encouraged by Radwi, Al-Sabban, too, studied abroad, first in Beirut and then in Rome. 

“Al-Sabban recognized the cultural necessity of art in Europe, which lent itself to his enduring fascination with his own culture and traditions. The holy city of Mecca, his birthplace, and the ancient city of Jeddah, to which he relocated, are central influences to the artist’s oeuvre; he derived inspiration from the rich history and variety of the people that he encountered in the city, its rituals, landscape, and social life,” the auction notes state. This expressionistic work was produced while he lived in Jeddah, where he had developed a deep love for the sea. “Here, he captures in abstract the nature of the ocean through a cool, deep palette and vertical energy, as if the forms rise, swaying, from the sea floor.” 

 

Inji Efflatoun 

‘Untitled (Baking)’ 

Efflatoun was an important figure in Egyptian culture not just for her artworks, but for her social activism. As a young adult, she shunned her privileged aristocratic background, joining several left-wing organizations, and promoting anti-imperialist and anti-nationalist causes. “Her political convictions are mirrored in her compositions, depicting the predicaments of Egyptians under social inequalities,” Sotheby’s states. 

In 1959, Efflatoun was imprisoned as part of a crackdown on communism in Egypt. Upon her release four years later, she continued to paint, but produced less overtly political work. However, as Sotheby’s notes, and as this 1971 work shows, “she persisted in representing the working class and its living conditions, the one cause which always animated her.” 

 

Mohamed Hamidi  

‘Untitled’ 

This veteran painter is considered one of Morocco’s finest artists. He studied in France before returning to teach in his homeland, where he took part in the seminal “Manifesto” exhibition in Marrakech in 1969, as one of the co-founders of the Moroccan Association of Plastic Arts. 

Morocco’s Loft Art Gallery says of the artist, “The whole of Hamidi's work focuses on the body, whose representation he pushes to the limits of abstraction with the use of increasingly refined forms. He demonstrates a keen interest in African art and its symbols. Bright colors also characterize his work.” 

  

Faik Hassan 

‘Untitled (The Three Wise Men)’ 

Recognized as a central figure in Iraqi contemporary art, Hassan’s work, Sotheby’s states, is “marked by technical skill and variation through a vast exploration of stylistic genres, Hassan has been labelled a primitivist, an impressionist, and a cubist,” according to the auction notes. “His exploration of styles prompted a break with academic restrictions. He is most commonly known for his realistic depictions of everyday life in Iraq. His works are dominated by Iraqi villagers, laborers, horsemen, and landscapes, all conveyed with an emotional fragility, regardless of style.” 

 

Tarek Al-Ghoussein 

‘K Files – 655’ 

This work is from the late Kuwaiti artist’s “K Files” series, which, according to The Third Line gallery in Dubai, “documents found material from family albums, antique shops, the Internet and other sources in an ongoing process. The performative photographs feature interactions between the artist and sites of grandness and importance in an attempt to track significant places in Kuwait’s development.” 

 

Chant Avedissian 

‘Tahiya Carioca (no 45)’  

Much of Avedissian’s work focuses on figures from Cairo’s “Golden Age,” although the vibrant images are inspired by the often-dark nationalism of those times. In this work, Sotheby’s states, “the artist’s nostalgia manifests itself through an image of Tahiya Carioca, the Egyptian belly dancer and film actress who is a household name across the Middle East. Carioca’s life intertwined with the forces of liberation and was filled with art and rebellion. Avedissian deploys sophisticated stencils to readapt a popular picture of Carioca. In doing so, he linked himself directly to media imagery from the mid-20th century.” 


French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa discusses her vibrant new collection 

Updated 11 April 2024
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French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa discusses her vibrant new collection 

  • The celebrity-loved label’s latest offering ‘embodies simplicity and vibrancy’ 

DUBAI: French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa, founder of the celebrity-loved fashion label The Bouguessa, has dropped her Spring/Summer 2024 collection.  

The designs celebrate contemporary fashion, merging minimalist aesthetics with striking colors. 

The Spring/Summer 2024 designs celebrate contemporary fashion, merging minimalist aesthetics with striking colors. (Supplied)

“This collection embodies simplicity and vibrancy in perfect harmony,” the designer told Arab News. “The focus on quality craftsmanship and sophistication ensures a timeless aesthetic and modern feminine elegance.” 

The color palette features camels, nutshells, pinks and sky blue. With a versatile range of indoor and outdoor pieces, the collection offers looks that can be worn separately or combined. 

The designer explained that her design philosophy revolves around creating classic, timeless pieces that can be worn during the day and at night and work for a variety of occasions. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by BOUGUESSA (@bouguessa)

The development process of her collections is shaped by a variety of inspirations, she said.  

“Sometimes it’s the fabric I start with, other times it’s an era or an artistic discipline,” Bouguessa said. “However, regardless of the initial influence, most of my designs naturally blend with each other and can easily be converted from daytime or work outfits to evening looks with (a few) accessories.”  

While aesthetics are, obviously, important, the designer emphasized that her and her team’s main concerns when developing any collection are “comfort and wearability.” 

“I like to think that my designs make women feel confident and strong while being able to be worn during days on the go,” she said. “I also design for myself, and there is not a style (in my collection) that I would not wear. 

“We also aimed to infuse the lineup with powerful and visually striking styles,” she added.  “Take, for instance, the Rafael prints, which exemplify this balance, as well as the thoughtfully distributed color palette throughout the collection. I tried to reimagine some of our signature pieces and classic silhouettes, injecting them with a fresh sense of modernity through cuts and color choices.” 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by BOUGUESSA (@bouguessa)

Bouguessa also discussed her dual upbringing, saying that she embraces positive aspects from both France and Algeria. 

France, she said, has influenced her cultural and technical understanding of fashion. “(The) fashion weeks are always closely covered by the media, and various documentaries about designers and fashion houses are aired during that time on television,” she added.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by BOUGUESSA (@bouguessa)

Meanwhile, Algeria provides her with a deep connection to her heritage. “It is my roots, the warmth of my family,” she said. “And many Algerians will tell you about our extremely strong connection with the land.  

“My Algerian background translates differently from my French background,” she continued. “It is a little more subtle — through details or choices of fabric. The French touch is more obvious through the cuts and silhouettes. However, none of it is intentional, I believe these elements will always appear effortlessly in our work, as they are part of our identity.” 

Bouguessa’s brand has garnered support from several celebrities, with the first being Beyonce, who commissioned an abaya from the label in 2015. “It was quite a moment,” the designer recalled. In 2017, the singer wore an emerald velvet Bouguessa gown to a charity fundraiser. The dress quickly sold out.  

The label has since been endorsed by numerous A-listers, including Eva Longoria, Kourtney Kardashian, Hailey Bieber, Jessica Alba, Melissa McCarthy, and Kelly Rutherford, as well as esteemed royals such as Jordan’s Queen Rania and Saudi Arabia’s Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz. 

Bouguessa emphasized her desire to be “remembered as someone who contributed to empowering women through clothing that goes beyond trends. I hope to be remembered for the positive influence and inclusivity I brought to the industry.”