Earning itself a permanent position on our insta-feeds is Dr Azra Khamissa’s contemporary take on the cultural practice of henna. The plant-based dye that was once used to paint sprawling florals and spirals, is now used by the chiropractor-turned-artist to create geometric, and minimalist, satisfyingly modern art. and We. Are. Obsessed.
“Growing up abroad, henna was still a big part of our Eid celebrations, but I did not like the traditional floral designs. I wanted to do something different,” she recalls. “Henna is something I am very passionate about; it makes me feel alive and allows me to express my artistic side. The best thing about it is that unlike a tattoo, I can update the designs regularly and natural henna is actually good for your skin.”
Hoping to help women rediscover themselves and reconnect with their culture, she says “It seems like in a lot of families, henna skipped a generation. I see a lot of girls saying it reminds them of their grandmothers and their childhoods. Many will say their mums didn’t love henna like their grandmothers did, so there is this strong sense of nostalgia that it brings to a lot of people and that has really drawn women back to the practice," she continues, "It’s kind of like a feminist movement. Henna is a platform for women to get together. It’s just a cool way to reconnect with our culture.”
Creating the hashtag #thehennaarchive, Azra has grown a community of women each modernising the henna tradition. Hoping to join in? Here are some of Azra’s coolest designs you can take inspiration from.