This designer is putting a modern spin on the ancient art of henna
Henna is entrenched in tradition and cultural customs, with a history spanning millennia across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. Weddings, religious festivities, and other special occasions are common uses for the natural color.
Azra Khamissa, a Dubai-based fashion designer, is on a quest to modernize the old technique.
Khamissa is a minimalist design pioneer who has amassed an Instagram following of more than 100,000 people. Her innovative designs have led to collaborations with major fashion brands such as Gucci and Fendi.
Fashion-forward henna patterns and henna products for sale in big cosmetics chains are among her goals. It’s not just for exceptional occasions that Khamissa would want to see henna used, she wants it on a regular basis.
Henna is derived from the leaves of a plant. Ade Solihat, an Arab Studies lecturer and researcher at Universitas Indonesia, claims it has “been used for hundreds of years for aesthetic purposes,” including coloring hair and nails and beautifying hands and feet. Its beginnings as a cosmetic product are unknown.
Henna was frequently utilized for family occasions like Eid when Khamissa was a child, according to her. It’s no secret that as she got older and began to develop her own personal style, she became increasingly apprehensive about dressing up in floral prints.
In 2017, at a friend’s wedding, Khamissa’s perspective on henna changed. In preparation for the event, she experimented with different designs and colors on her fingertips and the center of her hand (a design called rubeya in Arabic) (rawayeb, in Arabic). According to Khamissa, this pattern is often reserved for “only grandparents,” but she was drawn to its striking simplicity.
A week later, Khamissa wore her henna-covered hands to a photoshoot for her own handbag line, Khamissa. A new perspective on henna emerged for Khamissa when she saw the photos. Henna artistry became her next career path.