Exclusive: Bil Arabi and Desert Mannequin Collaborate on Limited Edition Collection, ‘Alef/20’

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When the worlds of art and fashion collide, more often than not, a masterpiece is born. Such is the case with the region’s latest collaboration between artist, photographer, and renowned jewelry designer Nadine Kanso of the highly coveted brand Bil Arabi, and Anum Bashir, founder of DesertMannequin.com, whose blog strives to blend both creative words. After nearly a year of working together, the innovative Kanso and Bashir have launched a limited fine jewelry collection, entitled ‘Alef/20’.

Inspired by the Arabic letter alef, the collection’s theme is based on strength, courage, and adventure. Pieces were specifically designed to resemble a woman’s ‘inner warrior’, something that both Bashir and Kanso have a special affinity toward. Made up of eight different designs of pendants, rings, cuffs, and earrings, the capsule is limited to just 20 units of each creation.

Read on for an exclusive chat between the masterminds behind the new, limited edition collection.

Anum: Can you believe that it has been nearly a year since we first spoke about the possibility of collaborating together?

Nadine: Yes, we started the conversation before the summer, and now it’s blooming!

Anum: I’m over the moon and feel incredibly honored to have worked with someone (you!) that I truly admire. (Smiles) Dare I say you are a bit of a role model for me… The love, passion, and dignity that you conduct your life and projects with… I may have a slight girl crush!

Nadine: (Laughs) I’m very touched and honored too. I’d happily do it all over again in a heartbeat, as we share such similar values. In fact, perhaps we can explore more of an art-related project next time. It’s been so inspiring and rewarding to work together, but more than that, you have you become part of my life now.

Anum: Ditto, ditto! Now, I know we shouldn’t have favorites, but do you have a favorite piece in the collection? I have to say, I’m earrings all the way. The asymmetry is something that I love and often incorporate into my personal style.

Nadine: Yes, I love the earrings too, and in particular because it is the first time that Bil Arabi plays with asymmetry in this way. And of course, let’s not forget the diamonds and sapphires.

Anum: Absolutely! I also love the statement rings. When I think of Bil Arabi, I think of super funky rings, and these are particularly ‘Warrior-esque’, which is a strong theme for the collection. This idea of strong women; trailblazing leaders of love, respect, and passion both professionally and personally.

Nadine: Yes indeed. I think this collection will attract this sort of woman. Confident and powerful, but also embracing her beautiful innate vulnerability.

Anum: Strength is to vulnerability as vulnerability is to strength. The ‘Alef/20’ collection is her armor and protection.

Nadine: Exactly. I’m looking forward to the launch in a couple of weeks time during Art Dubai at LUMAS gallery in DIFC.

Anum: Me too! It feels like the right home for the collection, as we are both artists of sorts. Still lots of work to do, though. We better get our skates on!

The limited-edition ‘Alef/20’ collection by Desert Mannequin x Bil Arabi will launch this month at Art Dubai, and will be available in stores mid-March in Harvey Nichols – Dubai, Sauce Rocks, Per Lei Couture in Doha, and online exclusively at LuisaViaRoma.com.

Photos: Courtesy of Waqas Farid

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