With lines from love poems and flowing calligraphy, Jordanian fashion designer Hana Sadiq embroiders a testament to the beauty of Arab women.
Over a decades-long career, Iraqi-born Sadiq has shown her designs around the world and dressed the stars, but she remains rooted in the traditions of her native country.
The artistic writing of Arabic script dominates its modern embroidered designs, with poetry or letters scattered in bright colors.
She uses various calligraphic styles, from elaborate Diwani to curved Thuluth, and features on some of her outfits the lines of renowned Arabic poets, including Mahmoud Darwish and Nizar Qabbani.
“Arabic calligraphy is the most beautiful,” says Sadiq, 72, showing his love of jewelry with pearl necklaces around his neck, dangling earrings and unusual stone rings.
In his home studio in downtown Amman, Sadiq notes that the first writing originated several millennia BC in what is now Iraq, arguing that it was a place “without which all other civilizations would not have existed”.
Sadiq has divided his time between Amman and Paris since 1982, having both French and Jordanian nationality as well as Iraqi nationality.
– ‘She is so pretty’ –
She exhibited from Europe to the United States as well as the Middle East, returning home with an extensive collection of antique silver ornaments, as well as thousands of pieces of Arab textiles and costumes.
Her kaftans, traditional dresses, feature bright and surprising colors. They reflect the influence of her grandmother who wore a traditional Iraqi “Hashemite dress” and walked “elegantly like a peacock”.
The folk outfit is made of very thin fabric with wide sleeves and transparent sides, decorated with beautiful floral ornaments, gold or silver, on a black base. It was the favorite of Iraqi women in the 1950s and 1960s.
Sadiq traces her interest in fashion back to her childhood, when she visited her grandfather’s textile shop in Baghdad.
She then designed for celebrities and royals, including Queen Rania and Queen Noor of Jordan. But whoever the client was, her work was guided by pride in the femininity of the Arab woman.
Unlike more revealing Western fashion, his designs envelop the female body, “but it shows great femininity,” says Sadiq, who is also the author of a book, “Arab Costumes and Jewelry, A Legacy Without Borders “.
She argues that Western clothing doesn’t best suit Arab women’s bodies, but has spread to the region anyway. “Unfortunately, this is the result of globalization,” she says.
“What matters to me, in all my work, is that the woman remains feminine and that a man is attracted to her as a woman,” she adds. “Which means that when a woman walks past him, he has to notice and see how beautiful she is.”