When we decided to celebrate Pulse’s one year anniversary, we, Fashion Trust Arabia, came up with dozens of ideas. One of them was unanimously approved: We wanted to single out the Arab talents who shone in 2021 and who were featured in Pulse’s articles throughout the year, a limited number, a curated list. This is how Pulse’s 21 Arab Powerhouses of 2021 was born.
First, we chose the 21 categories, naturally, we excluded all those that had any kind of link with our FTA annual Prize. Then we came up with a first draft, 3 to 5 names in each category, creatives in the fashion industry who did things differently in 2021, artists who told unforgettable stories and realized huge dreams. And finally, we voted, all eleven of us. Sometimes, the debate was fierce, stormy, but democracy prevailed, and that’s all that matters. So, here we go!
ACTOR/ACTRESS OF THE YEAR | TARA EMAD
The Egyptian actress and model shone bright like a diamond on television in 2021, notably in “Moussa”, “Settat Beyt Al Mou’adi”, and “Ded el Kasr”. She kept her 2.2 million followers on Instagram happy, but also curious about arts and culture. “This year was a rollercoaster, in all its glory, hype, excitement, fear, downfalls, surprises and most importantly letting go over and over again to enjoy the ride,” she said. And indeed it was!
BEAUTY AND SKINCARE BRAND OF THE YEAR | SHIFFA BEAUTY
In 2021, Emirati national Dr. Lamees Hamdan was the trailblazer for clean beauty in the Arab world with her UAE-based brand, Shiffa Beauty, launched in 2004. Last year, the brand started offering revamped packaging. “Our formulations really are some of the best out there in terms of ingredients and efficacy, and I wanted our packaging to reflect that,” Dr Hamdan said to Pulse.
BEST DRESSED OF THE YEAR | RAZANE JAMMAL
The Lebanese actress, who notably worked with Olivier Assayas, Kanye West and Robert Guédiguian, and who will star in the 2022 Netflix adaptation of “The Sandman”, was breathtaking in 2021 on almost every red carpet, wearing Dior, Harith Hashim, Azzi & Osta, Élie Saab, Zuhair Murad, and Valentino among others.
CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR | ZYNE
The Moroccan luxury handcrafted shoe brand, “made with love by women artisans for women”, launched an amazing campaign for their 2021 collection. Our 2019 FTA Prize winners in the Accessories category paid beautiful tribute to their Moroccan heritage with panache and a timeless elegance. Last year, every Arab woman wanted to be (wearing) Zyne.
CAPSULE COLLECTION OF THE YEAR | NÖL COLLECTIVE
The Palestinian “intersectional, feminist and political” fashion collective, who manufacture their apparel and accessories through small, family-run businesses and women’s cooperatives across the West Bank and Gaza, offered a 2021 capsule that definitely, in their words, brought “garments to life”. A perfect example of how powerful fashion can be: their capsule featuring an embroidered house and popular’s Palestinian children folk songs was epic.
COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR | TANIA GEORGE X IKEA
Jordanian Tania Haddad was the first Arab fashion designer to create a collection for IKEA. In 2021, the Swedish company teamed up with her brand, Tania George, to create a home collection that quickly sold out. To create the series, the designer asked local artisans to add a personal touch with their embroidery. A total success.
CONCEPT STORE OF THE YEAR | STUDIO7
In 2021, this “playground of perception rooted in Arab culture” was launched in the heart of the M7 museum in Doha. The Qatari design concept is a beautiful space where “Le Livre”, a kaftan hand-crafted by Yasmin Mansour, the“Trictrac Backgammon” set designed by boobybooabboud, and the handwoven kilims inspired by Doha’s construction and designed by Maryam Al-Homaid and Levi Hammett, coexist in perfect harmony.
CONTENT CREATOR OF THE YEAR | DANA HOURANI
2021 was definitely the year of Lebanese Dubai-based singer and visual artist Dana Hourani. Not only did she release “Ensanein”, her first album and one that contained several smash hits, and kept on championing Arab fashion designers, but she put content creation and creativity on a different level when campaigning for brands like Dior, Gucci, Loewe, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Audemars Piguet, Paco Rabanne, Narciso Rodriguez, Carolina Herrera, Sandro, and Gisou.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR | MAHA HAIDER
“I hate the cultural shaming of women”, said the multi-disciplinary creative and art director of Palestinian origin, who is currently based in Milan, when answering our Young, Arab and Proud questionnaire in August 2021. Last year her art was at its peak, notably through the campaigns she directed for Les Petis Joueurs, Gucci Beauty, Chanel Beauty, Officiel Turkiye, Officiel Russia and Harpers Bazaar Germany.
ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR | HALA AL GERGAWI
The Emirati founder and CEO of local luxury consultancy Tea Before Noon, and Elevenish, an online concept store where emerging designers from around the world share their creations and tell their stories, gave some astounding lessons in entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment, and storytelling in 2021. She rose to all challenges and we’re excited to see what she does next!
FASHION BOUTIQUE / PR AGENCY OF THE YEAR | BUREAU DES CRÉATEURS
The Middle East based agency, founded by Lebanese entrepreneur Christian Daccache, offer their clients a tailored and on-point approach for their brands to develop in the MENA region. The firm stood out in 2021 with their remarkable work for Celine, Dana Hourani, Moynat, Givenchy and Chloé, among others. Bureau des Créateurs has a particularly sharp eye on the fashion industry in the Arab world.
INDEPENDANT MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR | AZEEMA
Originally founded by Sudanese Jameela Elfaki in 2017, Azeema is a UK based print magazine, online platform, community and creative agency, that has grown into a “positive cultural force”. In 2021, we couldn’t help but notice, read and share their stories about culture(s), inclusivity and representation. Witty and sassy – everything we love!
INNOVATIVE BRAND OF THE YEAR | MARIAM AL SIBAI
The Syrian, New York based designer founded her eponymous brand in 2017 and continuously pushes the limits of conscious and innovative fabrics, notably with Pinatex, or pineapple leather. In 2021, she launched her Gilet made from cactus leather – and it was a hit.
MENSWEAR BRAND OF THE YEAR | MAISON DU MEC
Founded in 2018 by Lebanese creative director and fashion designer Joseph Achajian, Maison du Mec showed us its DNA in 2021, with faultlessly-cut, ready-to-wear, genderless items that come to life thanks to how you wear them, and who you are.
MODEL OF THE YEAR | QAHER HARHASH
In 2021, more so than in any other year, the 24 year old model wore his Palestinian identity as a badge of honor, despite the endless attempts by the medias to suppress any kind of Palestinian voice. Harhash shone under the spotlight, through campaigns with Jean-Paul Gaultier (and Bella Hadid), Versace and Prada. Handsome and smart!
NEWBIE OF THE YEAR | TRENDING TOPIC
Founded in 2020 by Tunisian designers Asma and Yazmin Turki, Trending Topic is a sustainable and genderless brand that focuses on a trendy and unique style, with every item designed and handmade by the sisters. Their 2021 collection was particularly prominent during Tunisian Fashion Week.
PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR | MOUS LAMRABAT
Constantly building bridges between different cultures, the Moroccan artist grew up in Belgium and reinvents the codes of photography with every picture. Mastering the concept of storytelling like few others, in 2021 he presented the highpoint of his vision through two pictures titled “Summary of this Year” on his Instagram page. Majestically disruptive!
SINGER OF THE YEAR | ELYANNA
“I am an emotional, an ambitious and a strong Arab woman”, said the 20 year old Palestinian singer when she talked to Pulse about her Palestine, the USA, music and fashion. 2021 was indeed her year, with her song on almost everyone’s lips through the MENA region and beyond.
STREETWEAR BRAND OF THE YEAR | CLAUDETTE THE BRAND
The “About” section on their website says it all: “She doesn’t look like anyone you know, but she represents everyone. Claudette was created to bridge the gap between opposites, feminine and masculine, happy and sad, peace and chaos.” In 2021, the brand, founded by Kuwaiti Layan Al-Dabbous, bridged those gaps like never before.
STYLIST OF THE YEAR | LATIFA BINT SAAD
“Popular practices of nepotism and gatekeeping should stop!”, said the Saudi Arabian stylist and creative director when answering our Young, Arab and Proud questionnaire. Based between the MENA region and the EU, in 2021, she proved how much of a game changer she is through her projects for Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Scandal Gold Perfume, Jdeed Magazine’s Summer 2021 issue, GQ Middle East’s July/August covers and the Thobe Series x Vice Arabia.
SUSTAINABLE BRAND OF THE YEAR | ABADIA
Unlike the vast majority of MENA fashion brands, Abadia relentlessly proves that sustainability is not just a pretty word to copy-paste on a website or social media, but that it’s first and foremost about taking action. “Smaller independent brands must stay connected to their supply chain, so they know what is happening at various manufacturing stages, and be mindful of fabric choices using eco conscious materials,” said Shahd Al Shehail, the Saudi founder of Abadia, to Pulse.