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The Socially Responsible Label Behind Team Saudi Arabia’s Opening Ceremony Looks

The Art of Heritage brand reflects Saudi heritage and supports marginalised women to give them a better future.

Despite several controversies and a state of emergency, Japanese organisers still managed to come up with an opening ceremony that had memorable moments to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. From tap dancers on wooden tables and essential workers carrying the Olympic flag to lit-up drones and Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron, Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium staged some of the magical moments traditionally associated with the Olympics.

A year delayed, the opening ceremony, which was officially opened by Emperor Naruhito and only attended by stakeholders and VIPs like First Lady Jill Biden and Emmanuel Macron, also provided some standout fashion moments. One of those was the cotton candy rainbow hued Tomo Koizumi gown Japanese singer-songwriter Misia wore for her splendid performance of “Kimi Ga Yo,” the Japanese national anthem. The dramatic dress, which set the Internet buzzing, featured many layers of recycled organza that were spray painted to create the dazzling multi-coloured ombré effect. As well as the jaw-dropping outfits like this on performers, fashion enthusiasts have come to look forward to the games because of the national uniforms on display during the opening and closing ceremonies. This year, big names include Ralph Lauren, who has dressed Team USA since 2008, Giorgio Armani, the designer behind all of Italy’s Olympic uniforms since 2012, and Lacoste (France).

When it comes to delegations from the region, it is Team Saudi Arabia’s uniforms that are a real subject of cultural pride. The Kingdom’s team was once again dressed by the Art of Heritage. The socially responsible label, which employs over 100 female Saudi artisans, created beautiful kaftans for the female athletes. The neutral coloured pieces inspired from Saudi heritage featured exquisite green embroidery, all handcrafted to perfection.

About Art of Heritage
When Art of Heritage launched, it replaced the Al-Nahda Heritage Center, the public marketing and retail arm of the Al Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women, Saudi Arabia’s oldest women’s charity. The step came as the philanthropic organisation, which was founded in 1963 by the late Queen Effat Al Thunayan, started to focus more on core educational values and women’s issues.

Established by Somaya Badr, the Riyadh-based label preserves Saudi heritage through artisanal craftsmanship. After years of experience in for-profit as well as non-profit entities, Badr set up Art of Heritage to improve the lives of marginalised Saudi women by training them as handicraft artisans so they are able to gain unique and valuable skills that help them become self-sufficient. The project also incorporates Badr’s passion for cultural heritage and her commitment to preserving and conserving it.

Somaya Badr

“I realised that not only could I educate future generations about their heritage, but that I could also support marginalised groups to transform from being totally dependent to being confident and productive members of society,” Badr, who has been CEO since 2009, told “Arab News.”

Every single garment is made and embroidered by hand, and to make the one-of-a-kind pieces and revive and feature heritage in daily life in novel and diverse ways, the design team starts by researching the traditional patterns and hues, as well as textiles and styles from all around Saudi Arabia.

Art of Heritage, which has boutiques in Riyadh and Jeddah, offers a broad range of gifts, accessories, jewellery, artifacts and, of course, clothing. The brand has cooperated with renowned international fashion designers and has been part of collaborative exhibitions in museums, whether in Europe or closer to home. 

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