Emirati artisanship dazzles Paris’ ‘Maison D’Exceptions’

DUBAI: The exceptionally skilled Emirati craftswomen who are practising their craft under the aegis of the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council’s Bidwa Social Development Programme, have raised the profile of the UAE’s centuries-old craft of ‘Talli’ with a spectacular showcase of 50 designs at the exclusive Maison D’Exceptions project at Première Vision Paris this year.

Irthi’s seasonal and regular collections of ‘Talli’ – a handwoven braid traditionally used to adorn women’s clothes – were sampled by 3,500 of the world’s most sought-after fashion and couture brands, visitors, designers, and major industries supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry who convene in Paris every year for this unmissable event on the global fashion calendar.

Irthi was the only participant from the Arab world among only 25 handpicked to showcase artisanal techniques and technological innovations at Maison D’Exceptions, and one of six ateliers participating for the first time. The event offers new and upcoming ateliers from around the world immeasurable business opportunities and avenues for future collaborations with leading couture and haute-couture houses.

Over 50 Talli patterns made using traditional braiding techniques and material such as cotton, silk, and metallic threads were showcased, in addition to 20 experimental Talli products created by integrating traditional techniques with crochet and macramé using materials such as leather, metallic and rope threads, and recycled materials.

The Council also displayed how Talli braids can be incorporated in contemporary designs, in a creative collaboration with Emirati and UAE-based fashion designers Sheikha Amal Al Maktoum, Founder of Azzalia; Raghda Taryam, Founder of Kanzi Studio; Khuloud Thani, Founder of ‘Bint Thani’, and Megan Jonk, Co-founder of ‘O-eo studio’, a multidisciplinary design studio.

A creative short film about the historical significance and aesthetic value of Talli and the importance of preserving and adding new meaning and value to this craft by passing it down to future generations was on display.

Visitors were offered a wealth of information about traditional Emirati handicrafts, in general, and about Talli in particular, through elegantly designed look-books and Talli samples. Representatives of the UAE consulate in France also visited the pavilion.

Established in 2011, Maison D’Exceptions is held annually in Paris as part of the Première Vision fair, and honours international craftsmanship, bringing together a selection of workshops and companies whose mission is to support the development of ancestral, folk or contemporary craft techniques.