Sharjah-based Palestinian fashion designer Reema Al Banna is a national treasure. She built Reemami after studying fashion at night school, and her brand is worn and championed by style leaders as influential as Queen Rania of Jordan. Reemami designs are fierce, fresh and forward-thinking, and while Reema is certainly no stranger to utilising her talent to spark dialogue – renowned for weaving social messages into designs, be it Frida Kahlo’s face on quirky silhouettes, food on skirts or boxing gloves on dresses – connecting with the past to help shape the future isn’t something the
designer had considered.
Enter Careem. As a part of its Connecting UAE Campaign – which includes mini films in which two generations of music, car racing, cooking, and now fashion, connect and cross-pollinate – Reema spent a day with a traditional Talli craftswoman in order to weave the UAE’s past in to its present. “UAE is my home; being born and raised here makes it natural for me to look into the culture and heritage of this incredible country. I just hadn’t had the chance to dive deeper into this art until now. It’s fascinating how these weavers create beautiful stories with their designs,” Reema tells Grazia.
“We’ve all been part of rapid-growth environments, and know that in those times we unconsciously tend to focus on the future, overlook the past, and rarely live in the present moment,” explains the Careem team. “And that’s how the concept of Connecting UAE came to life – we wanted to connect the traditional and modern UAE.”
Throughout the mini film, Reema and the Talli craftswoman, Umm Ahmed, share stories and techniques in a journey that feels genuine and emotive. “I realised that our creative process is similar, and we both have different inspirations from our lives and surroundings. A lot of Umm Ahmed’s Talli designs were inspired by palm trees and things that surround her,” describes Reema, whose own AW19 collection weaves surf-inspired printsinto androgynous cuts. “I love the idea of connecting the past and present,” adds Reema.
In a similar collaboration focused on music, Arabic rapper Freek joined forces with the Harbiyah band Dibba – the result is a cool and melodious melding of the two sounds, reminding us of the potential that may be found in unknown elements from bygone eras.