Here is the Samira Larouci, founder of Mille World. She wants to create a safe haven for all the Arab audience. Let’s attempt to avoid clichés and lack of Arab manifestation. And meet Samira, she can cure your Islamophobia if you have any.
What led you to this area?
Samira Larouci: There’s a distinct lack of independent publications in the region that are offering unabashed opinions with a social conscience. Too often Arabs have been subjugated to the orientalist clichés that we’ve had placed upon us. The tired stereotype of the woman as a submissive luxury consumer and men as these overbearing unintelligent misogynists or terrorists has to stop. With Islamophobia on the rise, it sounds so basic but we really owe it to our communities to represent our people and the incredible talent that’s coming out of our region - to each other, and to the world.
How do you feel about being a creative woman in today’s world?
Samira Larouci: It’s an exciting time. We’re getting more visibility and representation in some critical industries – but in the creative world, it’s still very much a boy’s club and there’s always a disparity between the mediocre (and often overpaid) men at the top.
Tell us about some Arab brands you admire. What makes them stand out for you personally?
Samira Larouci: I love what Amina Muaddi is doing. She’s a Jordanian-Romanian shoe designer who makes heels that ooze 00s sex appeal. Precious Trust is a much-loved Algerian streetwear brand that’s distinctly Arab but the cuts are super wearable. And I really like Wekafore, a Nigerian brand based in Dubai that make clothes that are part streetwear, part West African disco.
Arab fashion is clearly gaining the fashion world’s attention. -What are your thoughts?
Samira Larouci: It’s about time that we gained enough visibility to be considered during the design process. “Modest dressing” isn’t necessarily aligned with my personal style, but it’s massively important for everyone to feel represented regardless of their religion or clothing preference. It’s simply important for people that choose to wear a hijab or dress modestly to not be restricted to boring or out-dated clothing. Just because you choose to cover up doesn’t mean you should be invisible.
“…Being Arab doesn’t mean they’re worth covering.”
How does Islamaphobia affect Arabic youth?
Samira Larouci: It’s a huge problem currently for both the diaspora and kids at home. The narrative that all Muslims are terrorists and should be feared has created an Othering that’s unparalleled to any other religious group in our modern-day society. When there’s a Muslim ban in full effect, what kind of message does that send to young Arab kids? It’s beyond demeaning and would make any young person growing up in a white community extremely fearful of owning their identity and religion. The problem with this kind of rhetoric is that it feeds the beast and marginalizes people even further. The only way we can combat this is to encourage open challenging conversations and continue to have other POC and minorities stand as our allies.
How do you train your eye?
Samira Larouci: I’ve worked for magazines like i-D, Vogue Italia, L’Uomo Vogue and CR Fashion Book for over a decade now, so this really helped to be blunt with what is good and what isn’t. It’s this critical eye that is really necessary in the region as someone simply being Arab doesn’t mean they’re worth covering – the aim is to challenge our community to produce brilliant work that would be on a level anywhere in the world, regardless of their ethnicity.
Can you name some contemporary artists that inspire your vision the most?
Samira Larouci: In general Mike Kelley, Mona Hatoum, Kerry James Marshall, Maha Maamoun, Hassan Khan, Joseph Beuys and David Hammons.
Which Instagram accounts catch your attention the most nowadays?
Samira Larouci: Dog memes and New Yorker cartoons.
What’s next for you?
Samira Larouci: More growth inshallah!