July 1st, 2015

Saniya Kripalani visits Dress the Mannequin, an auction and exhibition fashioned around a cause…

In UAE, a nation which is focused on using design as a solution to create innovation and value to products, it seems almost natural to find design – fashion, product design, arts, sculpture being used to create money for feeding the Syrian Refugees during this month of giving –Ramadan. Spear heading this movement are young Arab designers, who are led by a much awarded artist/curator/ fashion designer/ retailer Sumayyah Al Suwaidi.

Sumayyah Al Suwaidi is an Emirati artist from Abu Dhabi. Passionate about digital art, she completed her Master in Arts & Creative Industries, from The Higher Colleges of Technology. Imagination is the cornerstone of each piece she creates, which begins with hand-sketching or using photograph texturing, which the artist creatively colors and contrasts making every piece unique and innovative. By 2001 Sumayyah launched her first collection inspired by her Muse and Mentor Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

By 2003 Sumayyah earned her place, amongst many of the UAE’s pioneer artists when she started exhibiting her work at eminent galleries globally- UAE, London, USA, China, France, Germany and Morocco. When she was invited to present her work ay prestigious charity auctions hosted by Christies, she realized the need for such inspired collaborations. Fostering creativity, giving a podium to other regional talent Sumayyah Al Suwaidi is also an award-winning designtrepreneur; having launched a multi-brand boutique ‘Graffika’ she showcases talent of many more local designers, fulfilling the urgent need of the hour as there was great dearth of space for regional talent.

Experimenting with wearable art Suwaidi also forayed into fashion, launching her eponymous line. She has since showcased globally –UAE, Miami etc. Winning acclaim as ‘Best Local Designer’ Grazia 2012, ‘Best Arab Fashion Designer’ and ‘Most Stylish by Arab Women Awards’ in 2013 for her modern take on what is trending in the UAE. Realizing her contribution to the region, earned her the ‘Great Women Award’ for Art and Fashion 2012. She also earned ‘Emirates woman of the Year in 2011’ and ‘Emirates Woman Achiever of the Year 2011’ by Emirates Magazine. Her boutique was nominated by TimeOut Magazine Awards for best independent boutique AbuDhabi 2012.

Witnessing the lack of opportunity for Arab Designers in UAE, Sumayyah set up Abu Dhabi Design Week. Putting her lifesavings into this platform for young fashion designers Summayah hosts a pre-event called ‘Dress the Mannequin’. Inviting the region’s finest artists and sculptors, Sumayyah requested them each to dress a miniature mannequin which she later auctions at a charity event. This season the event was hosted in Abu Dhabi representing the work of both established and emerging artists from UAE. Some of the bids on these beautiful Mannequins went into five digits; all the proceeds went to charity towards Syrian Refugees

These limited edition mannequins brought delight not just to the refugees but to collectors as well as representing artists. Showcased at The Galleria on Al Mariah Island, the event included pioneer fine artists and fashion designers such as Abdulrahim Salem, Amna Al Balooshi, Reyan Hanafi, Mohamed Al Qassab, Jalal Luqman, Mattar Bin Lahej, Khalil Abdulwahid, Azza Al Qubaisi, Amal Murad, Feryal Al Bastaki and Hamda Al Fahim.

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