Remember their name: FAME is the regional women-led collective you need to know

By  | 

They have two main missions in mind, as to know, “empowering and uniting female artists and designers of the MENA region,” as well as “celebrating their stories to bring about social change by showcasing the talent and diversity of the modern MENA woman.”
They, is FAME, a woman-led exhibition platform and social enterprise that offers a global platform to the voices of these regional female talent, hoping to showcase and unite while “curating a beautiful and meaningful mix across mediums, styles and cultural backgrounds.”
JDEED speaks to Lara and Christiana, the co-founders behind this beautiful project.

Helen Zughaib – The Space Between

Can you tell us more about your backgrounds?

Lara: Christiana has always been inspired by the art and design spheres, and after her MA studies in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s, she was driven to channel her interest into a professional venture that would contribute to change for the better in the arts and creative sector. She applied the curatorial thinking she learned at Sotheby’s to the contemporary contexts presented by today’s world in a way that could accessibly address the fact that female artists, and furthermore non-Western female artists,  were largely excluded from art history and continue to be underrepresented in leading museums, galleries and auction houses today.

I studied in London, and am responsible for all the creative direction of the site and product curation. Following my BA in Creative Direction at University of the Arts, my knowledge of fashion and photography deepened into something I wanted to apply innovatively to the inspiring style and glamour of the Middle Eastern women I’d grown up with. Admiring how they used fashion and jewelry to each express their own identities, I was drawn to developing a project that connected with women’s stories and their context in the cultural and social dynamics of the region. 

How was the idea of FAME born? Who came up with this great name? 

We were driven to launch FAME as a vehicle for showcasing and uniting female artists and designers from the MENA region because we feel very strongly that their stories and visions deserve to be shared. As we’ve always lived between Europe and the Middle East, we have long noticed how little female creative talent from the region gets showcased and so we were moved to play our part in changing that.
The name FAME came naturally to Christiana as she was having a brainstorming session inspired by some of the female artists whose work she loved and the subjects she was reading about at the time. She wanted something energizing and positive that would connect with a wide range of people. As an intuitive person, it came with wanting a name with a meaning and she instantly felt it had a catchy tone that could carry the platform forward as it continues to evolve and grow across different borders and cultures.

Maison H on

What is your selection process and how do you scout talents?

For us the priority is curating a beautiful and meaningful mix across mediums, styles and cultural backgrounds. We are always travelling and love meeting new people and talents from all over the region. We showcase so many different artists, ranging across painting, photography, collectable design, furniture, fine jewelry, and what we call “art wear”, which represents high end wearable pieces. As well as the aesthetics, craft heritage and artistic techniques that go into the work we share, we’re really invested in the personal story behind each and every maker and want to support creative women who find new ways to tell regional and historical stories.

Do you believe the art and design scene in our region is still predominantly masculine or do you see some more equity recently?

Yes, the art and design world in the Middle East is still predominantly masculine, just as it is all around the world. We are of course thrilled to see – and hopefully contribute towards – the gradual change of this as we witness more and more female artists and designers being acknowledged, however there is still room for so much more visibility and celebration of the feminine principle throughout the visual arts and the cultural sector, as well as everywhere else. 

The Droplet Mirror (2 Tier) BY FORM THE STUDIO

What is one of the biggest designer crushes you had recently?

For us it’s impossible to pick any favorites as we admire and adore every single designer we work with and every item they create that’s on our site. We are honored to work with established designers like Nada Debs who are known worldwide and already represent female creativity from our region at a global level. And we also get super excited about collaborating with emerging creatives who bring that new eye and younger way of thinking to the platform and into people’s lives at a very personal level after they buy their work. We tend to choose designers who continue elements of tradition and longstanding local cultural practices but who explore these things in contemporary ways that tell stories we find pertinent today.

What’s the achievement you’ve had with the platform that you’re most proud of?

Our blended identity as a retail platform, exhibition portal, social enterprise and female-led community is what motivates our creativity and focus on a daily basis. We believe that being a full-cycle business that has giving back to women built into the structure of how we work is the most valuable achievement and a model that we hope more businesses will adopt. More broadly we love to highlight arts by women and uplift the powerful creativity of the feminine force in our world – for us that’s the spark!

What is in store for the future of FAME?

We have constantly new artists and designers who we’re in discussion with to join our platform, in the meantime we’re also building relationships in the charity sector ee had our first philanthropic partnership with a leading non-profit  Stand for Women doing crucial work with Middle Eastern women and entrepreneurship, which is very important to us. We also have been invited to participate in an upcoming Biennale in Saudi Arabia . We’re also currently shooting in some very inspiring locations in the region as we love to generate fresh photography that elevates the products we present on our site in a glamorous and locally-rooted way, so check back soon to see the new images!

Visit FAME Collective to discover more and shop the designers