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louise nichol

Since moving to the Middle East in 2005, Louise Nichol has helmed the region’s two leading fashion publications: Grazia Middle East and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. Louise, 34, has over 13 years experience as a journalist, starting her career on UK fashion industry publication Drapers in London. Currently editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, over the course of her career Louise has interviewed the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Victoria Beckham, Tom Ford and Kim Kardashian.

1.       Who is your current favorite local designer and why?

From an entirely personal perspective there are two locally-based designers whose pieces I have hanging in my wardrobe: Ayesha Depala and Madiyah Al Sharqi. For me, they produce the most commercially compelling collections. I only wish I had the lifestyle to accommodate pieces by some of the region’s talented eveningwear designers!

2.       what are your 3 wardrobe essentials as a new mum?

Anita nursing bras (from, cotton T-shirts (I like James Perse) and my Anya Hindmarch ‘Oakley’ nappy bag.

3.       How important is it to have a platform like Fashion Forward in the region?

It is always important to nurture and foster young talent, but it is vital to do so within the context of creating viable design businesses. This is what Fashion Forward has recognised, with its mix of educational talks and panel discussions alongside the catwalk shows. I like the acknowledgement of driving forward towards a sustainable design industry rather than launching yet another Dubai Fashion Week, without a credible industry behind it. We’re not there yet, but with initiatives like Fashion Forward, we will be soon.

4.       As a blogger who focuses on conservative stylish/trendy fashion.  We have stylish icons like Sheikha Moza and Dsaaks (Indonesian Blogger) to look to for conservative fashion inspiration.  Conservative/modest fashion is an untapped niche in a region where women are mostly covered or dress modestly.  What is your view on the importance on tapping into this market?

We photograph a wide mix of women who live in the region, many of whom are covered to varying degrees. We would like to photograph more, but often cultural restrictions prevent us from doing so. I feel passionately about bringing Middle Eastern women into the pages of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia wherever possible. Ultimately we are an international title, with responsibilities to international advertisers, but our heartbeat is most definitely local.

5.       If you could visit any decade which would it be and why?

The 2030s would be cool. My daughter will be 18-years-old in 2030 and the world will be a different place by then. I’d love to get a head start so I can prepare her!

harpers bazaar

Portrait of a Bedouin- Exhibited at the Sikka Art Fair 2012.

(The illustration is made up entirely of hand drawn dots, a method known as pointillism.)

Artist Bio and Background

Mariam Abbas is a Dubaian, born and bred. With an affinity for drawing and crafts, she enrolled in the school of Architecture & Design at the American University of Sharjah, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication in 2006. Shortly after her graduation, she obtained a license to work from home, and that’s how she ventured into the world of freelance. Over the course of several years, she has designed various brand identities and among them are: Mexar (a gift wrapping and crafts studio located in Jumeirah), Mine (an interior design firm), and Lollicuts (a children’s boutique and spa also located in Jumeirah.)

When did you discover your passion for art?

I was raised by my mom, whom is a watercolor artist, and consequently, every little childhood doodle was greatly encouraged. The more I was given confidence, the more I drew and dabbled with my mom’s paints which eventually led me to where I stand today.

As an Emirati Female where are your hopes for the Art scene in the UAE?

A little over half a decade ago, there wasn’t much of an ‘art scene’ in the UAE; it all began with a few new names, which are now prominent, such as Art Dubai and Tashkeel. It’s absolutely fascinating how the art scene is rapidly booming, and it already seems like the Emirates is brewing modern-day Van Goghs and Andy Warhols. I remember graduating and thinking, now what? A few years on and now I’m struggling to keep up! I hope that one day, there will be as many galleries that house valuable Emirati art – around the globe – as there are museums and galleries that house western art.

I’ve seen a few of your personal work where it’s sketchbook material (illustrations, dot-drawing, sketches, pop art.. ) which medium best expresses your style?

I have to say experimental illustration using pen and ink best expresses my style; it’s a combination of various styles of illustrations such as loose, tight, intricate patterns, detail drawings, pointillism, you name it! I also love getting my hands dirty from paint, pastels, color pencils, markers, toners, glue, and so on, which explains the numerous tools and medias used in my sketchbooks.

How important is it to you to incorporate your culture with your art?

The more I travel, and tour art galleries around the world, the more I realize just how important it is to produce art that is related to the Emirates or the Middle east. Emirati art has just begun to rise; therefore, producing art that is related to our culture makes it distinctive, and this should be looked at as an opportunity.

You recently participated at the Sikka exhibition where footage of Sheikh Mohammed admiring your work was all over the papers and media etc.. What did that moment mean to you?

The video footage of His Highness viewing my illustrations blew my mind; my ego couldn’t handle it! I was greatly heartened by all the media exposure Sikka brought me; can’t wait to create more.

If you were a snack, you would be…

A box of Cheez-It – crunchy and tangy.

If you were an animal, you would be…

A Unicorn – a symbol of purity and grace.

If you were a tool, you would be…

A pencil – to leave my mark on the world.

If you were a fictional character, you would be…

Mary Poppins. Wouldn’t you want to be magical too?

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Sheikh Mohammed at the Sikka Exhibition
The Patriot
The illustration is made up entirely of hand drawn dots.
Sketchbook Illustrations

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