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Hello Berlin #6 - Black Anaar is the new brand between Berlin and Bahrain

The cultural spirit and history of Bahrain perfectly combined with the techno edge and street style of Berlin

Hello Berlin #6 - Black Anaar is the new brand between Berlin and Bahrain  The cultural spirit and history of Bahrain perfectly combined with the techno edge and street style of Berlin

The best thing about living and creating in Berlin is the fact that different cultures and styles find a way to blend and express themselves here. One perfect example of this merge of creativity is our newest pick, the label Black Anaar. It is a brand that combines the cultural spirit and history of Bahrain with the techno edge and street style of Berlin. Because one thing is clear: if you want to impress in this city, you have to cross the borders of normality. And this is what Frances Stafford, self-made designer and cosmopolitan, does with her label. The Canadian with Ukrainian roots now inspires the scene with her unconventional clothes - whether they are worn at festivals, in Berghain, or back in Bahrain where she lived the last six years. We hope to inspire you by this new sense of style and proudly present the next interview of Hello, Berlin

#1 What is Black Anaar? Why did you choose this name?

Black Anaar is a fashion label that is based between Berlin and Bahrain. It’s an expression of my own unique and personal taste in fashion... but more so it’s a creative outlet. I loved the story behind the forbidden fruit and the subsequent first dressing of Adam and Eve - basically the invention of clothes. In Bahrain, there is a prevailing myth that the island was actually this "paradise" and it is referenced as such in the ancient Sumerian text, the Epic of Gilgamesh. So I came to know that the original forbidden fruit was most likely a pomegranate, or Anaar (in Farsi, Hindi and Urdu). I am interested in how myth, stories and even styles of dress or trends transform throughout time and place. The pomegranate is also symbolic of life, purity, and femininity but I also needed to reference the binary - the profane or subversive - and imagined it turning from the red succulent fruit to a black tempered orb. A color, that is not just powerful but stands for Berlin, the fashion and techno scene ... a modern sort of purity. So yeah, it’s a name that represents my idea as well as the two locations the brand is inspired by. 

#2 How did this project come into being?

Black Anaar really started with the first piece that I made which was a long vest with suit tailoring made of two Kashmiri scarves. I was working for the Ministry of Culture in Bahrain at the time, directing a big public project called Little India which showcased the connectivity between these two communities. I was really inspired by the tailors, whose shops were in vast numbers throughout the souk. Anyway, during one of the market events I noticed different vendors selling the same sort of scarves and complaining that there were no sales. I just wanted to create an example that would show how innovation may lead to better success so the vest was made with one of my favorite tailors. I received a lot of compliments on it...and started producing different pieces from then on. Once I moved to Berlin I found a great community of people all ready and willing to wear something different. I started with Abayas (a traditional garment most Muslim women wear in Bahrain) and re-appropriated them free of their religious connotation... and the first collection came into being. 

#3 What is the hardest part to work in this industry?

Everything costs so much money (laughing). It costs so much money to produce, it costs so much money to create... everything just costs so much money, it’s crazy. So yeah, it’s money, man! 

#4 What does gender mean to you regarding fashion?

In this day we are living in, I really dislike how we still limit and restrict one's personal dress by archaic binary means. I mean it’s so boring. This is another reason behind the project; I really want to turn these gender norms around. So most things that I produce with Black Anaar may seem overtly feminine but actually, all the stuff I do is unisex. I really want to promote that anyone can wear anything. If this means that a man is wearing something only a woman would typically wear so be it...I hope I don't get kicked out of Bahrain one-day haha! I guess Berlin is a safer place to experiment with this. 

#5 What does style mean to you?

Style is a complete unique expression of yourself. 

#6 Would you describe fashion as an art form?

Of course, for me, it’s an absolute art form. Every night before I fall asleep I see pieces in my mind. Most of the time I have to sketch them out before I can actually relax and pass out. To be honest, what I see in my mind is part of some whole other world where fashion transgresses many aspects of reality and where production elements like money, and the normal laws surrounding "fashion" don't seem to matter. I would love to be able to realize even a few of those really crazy ideas. You can create something totally new or you can pay homage to classics... but at the end of the day fashion constantly evolves, which means there will always be new ways and possibilities of expression. Like most other art forms, the aspects that seem most innovative are the ones that blur the lines between various disciplines and aesthetics. 

#7 Where do you get your inspiration from?

I’m inspired by so many things, but obviously by the places I live in or travel to. I also do a lot of research ...I’m really a visual based person. I’m also super interested in past cultures and their art forms - in history’s symbols presented through regalia and common dress. A way of dressing in the past may have signified, "I am a virginal girl from Eastern Ukraine", whereas modern codes seem more related to our professions, "I’m a lawyer".... you know what I mean?! 

#8 The biggest dream in life you have is ...

I always wanted to do a proper runway show. But I want to do something really unique- something bigger and more creative than just a clean catwalk presentation. Something more experiential, or crazy maybe. Yeah, something between performance and fashion ...a new sort of artform maybe. 

Photographer Jaber Alhashimi
Model Tabea Lutz