Tag Archives: fen

Black & White Spring & Summer

slicedbackMy new collection for spring/summer 2010 is out. I am really excited about it, it is my favourite collection so far because I managed I think to make it serious this time – serious in the sense of being able to wear it on a daily basis, but still really creative. It’s a challenge to make the two work together sometimes, functional and imaginative. But it worked. Using only two colours, black and white, really helped me achieve this (my personal challenge for my next collection is to do the same thing but to use a wider colour pallet… exciting to see where this might go).
This morning I received an email from fashion156.com, they selected 20 of their favourite pieces in black and white for next season – I think my collection definitely holds its own amongst their top picks. Check it out for yourself, maybe you’ll agree.

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Would you permit me?


This is a poem by my grandfather Nizar Kabbani, im not sure who translated it from Arabic to English

In a country where thinkers are assassinated, and writers are considered
infidels and books are burnt,
in societies that refuse the other, and
force silence on mouths and thoughts forbidden,
and to question is a sin,
I must beg your pardon, would you permit me?

Would you permit me to bring up my children as I want, and not to
dictate on me your whims and orders?

Would you permit me to teach my children that the religion is first to
God, and not for religious leaders or scholars or people?

Would you permit me to teach my little one that religion is about good
manners, good behaviour, good conduct, honesty and truthfulness,
before I teach her with which foot to enter the bathroom or with which hand she
should eat?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter that God is about love, and
she can dialogue with Him and ask Him anything she wants, far away from the
teachings of anyone?

Would you permit me not to mention the torture of the grave to my
children, who do not know about death yet?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter the tenets of the religion
and its culture and manners, before I force on her the ‘Hijab’ (the veil)?

Would you permit me to tell my young son that hurting people and
degrading them because of their nationality, colour or religion, is considered a
big sin by God?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter to revising her homework and
paying attention to her learning is considered by God as more useful and
important than learning by heart Ayahs from the Quran without knowing their

Would you permit me to teach my son that following the footsteps of
the Honourable Prophet begins with his honesty, loyalty and truthfulness,
before his beard or how short his thobe (long shirt/dress) is?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter that her Christian friend is not
an infidel, and ask her not to cry fearing her friend will go to Hell?

Would you permit me to argue, that God did not authorize anyone on
earth after the Prophet to speak in his name nor did he vest any powers in
anyone to issue ‘deeds of forgiveness’ to people?

Would you permit me to say, that God has forbidden killing the human
spirit and who kills wrongly a human being is as if he killed all human kind,
and no Muslim has the right to frighten another Muslim?

Would you permit me to teach my children that God is greater, more
just, and more merciful than all the (religious) scholars on earth combined? And
that His standards are different from the standards of those trading the
religion, and that His accountability is kinder and more merciful?

Would you permit me?


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Weave what you see


The historian Arnold Toynbee has described Afghanistan as a “roundabout of the ancient world” due to the masses of people that have passed through this region over the centuries. In modern times too, many of the world’s armies have passed through temporarily establishing control over this region, and still it refuses to be colonized. At Fen we have in the form of carpets, better known as ‘war rugs’ evidence of one of one of these armies – the Soviet Army’s effect on the region. Weaved in wonderful colours, craftsmen use this age old tradition of carpet making to tell modern stories, and document the weapons and sometimes the effects of these weapons used during the nine-year conflict (1979-1988). Nowadays the carpets being weaved have images of American weapons such as M-16’s or Black-hawks. Some of the war rugs have a flower weaved amongst all the weapons as a sign of hope. Perhaps one day Afghanistan’s carpet weavers will go back to weaving just flowers, landscapes and beautiful patterns.

More on war rugs on this informative blog, click here

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A mirror for the Twentieth Century


This is another poem from that inspiring book that I talked about in my earlier post. A book called “Modern poetry of the Arab world” translated by Abdullah-al Udhari. This time the poem is by Adonis. I really like this poem but Im not sure I quite understand what he was trying to say, Kate and I both have two completely different interpretations of this poem. Perhaps you can tell us what you get out of it?

A coffin bearing the face of a boy

A book

Written on a belly of a crow

A wild beast hidden in a flower

A rock

Breathing with the lungs of a lunatic:

This is it

This is the Twentieth Century.

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What’s cooking? Supporting Artists and Nature

One of our favourite things to do is finding and promoting young and unknown artists. On one of our walkabouts we came across the work of Zefrinomasks, a Mozambican artist who uses waste products, specifically old aluminum pot lids and turns them into very interesting, curious looking faces, that have been popular with our customers and also a great conversation starter for people coming into Fen.
Up-cycling is something which I have also dabbled in with the making of my magic rings. To make these little beauties I use scraps of fabric and buttons and bits previously discarded. Thanks to places like Etsy (www.etsy.com) I have realised that there are whole communities out there up-cycling and creating new and beautiful things.

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prisonbeadsWho says that prisoners are hopeless, thoughtless & heartless criminals? In Syria, some of the prisoners have a patient & creative side to them, so much so that one of the prisons has opened a shop within the prison. A shop dedicated to bead work by inmates. So instead of pumping iron, joining a gang or trying to break out, they spend their time making all sorts of beautiful things from beads. They make bags, wall hangings, lamps and these very interesting purses. These particular purses were made especially for Kate & myself, it has both our names in Arabic. The lady who used to help around at my grandmothers (Zahra Akbik, May God rest her soul) house had a son in prison and when I saw her purse that had a pattern of a gun and an “I love you mum” written on it I just had to ask her to make some for us. So the next time she went to visit her son she put in our request and a week later they were made. We had about 10 made but now we  only have a couple left in FEN but im trying to order some more as they have been very popular. Some come with patterns of guns, some with flowers, flying birds and even Quranic verses.

If Damien Hirst put his name on this it would be in the Tate.

For us this is art, anything creative that is made by hand is art, no matter who created it.

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tribal-artFrom Louis Vuitton’s Voodoo Shoes and ‘grass skirts’, to the colourful prints used by Emilio Pucci, Issey Miyake and Mui Mui (to name a few…), the rage this summer is not only colour but incorporating the positive vibrations found from global exotic cultures along with our everyday wear. Mixing it up, something which Hadba always encouraged me to do in my work is the way forward this summer, and for me, always – wearing a little story on your finger and piece of history in your ear together with an abaya reworked to make it look more now, or African print skirt with a seriously tailored jacket.

For me, the ultimate summer accessory is one that comes from traveling and can only be found from the highest mountain, oldest desert or hidden shops from an ancient souk. Going to these places provides a tale to go along with a piece of clothing or accessory, an account beyond ordinary, where really creative ideas come from.
How to make this dream work faced with realities of everyday life, the economic crisis and what not? The answer my dear is quite elementary: Fen treasures. And if you can’t easyjet it to Berlin, internet shop it – we will be more than happy to sell an anecdote along with it.

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