Arab Fashion Designer Pays Tribute to Her Palestinian Roots

Three countries have played a crucial role in Nisreen Krimed’s life. Originally from Palestine, she was born and raised in Syria and eventually settled in the UAE as an entrepreneur.

Naturally developing an appreciation of Jerusalem, Damascus, Dubai and Arabic culture at large, she has expressed that passion by blending fashion and graphic design.

Canava Design is her creation, a contemporary handmade womenswear label that thoughtfully embellishes flowy dresses and scarves with Arabic calligraphy and cartography. A tribute to Krimed’s Palestinian roots, the name canava refers to the fabric or base traditionally used by artisans to craft their patterned embroideries.

“I feel so connected to our region, our heritage, our culture,” Krimed told Arab News. There is an element of nostalgia in her designs, where black lines of maps show main streets of Arab cities taking over the surface of the fabric. “I have a soft spot for maps, visually and emotionally,” she says. Language is another field that inspires her — for example, one piece features the text of an Arabic poem on a jacket sleeve, accompanied by English writing on the other side in a manifestation of the East meets West ethos.

An alumnus of Dubai’s ESMOD fashion institute, Krimed’s latest dresses are two-layered and feature an interior crepe fabric covered with soft, feminine and transparent chiffon. “The goal of Canava is to have elegant pieces that make you feel confident and comfortable,” she said.

One design shows the Arabic word for patience, “sabr,” floating over a map of Damascus, hinting at the ongoing turmoil in Syria. Whereas, in another creation, a print of newspaper text lies underneath a sweeping “sidq,” which translates to “truth.” Krimed compares this layering concept to the emotional state of human beings: “We are very simple,” she explained, “but we are very complex at the end of the day. From the inner self to the outer shell and the face that you see, there are many layers inside a person.”

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