Sunday June 16th, 2024
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Dina Iskander’s Magical Styling for Dior at Mohamed Ali Palace

The family-run styling house behind some of Egypt’s most stunning weddings and events curated a mystical experience that represents the local culture.

Karim Abdullatif

If, for some odd reason, you missed Dior’s blockbuster show at the Great Pyramids of Giza then… well, most would consider that a shame. But you can’t be blamed for missing the Dior reception held at Mohammed Ali Pasha’s Palace in Shoubra. After all, that was an exclusive affair in which the multinational fashion icon hosted its distinguished guests in a setting that had been brushed with an air of magic by none other than Dina Iskander.

“They wanted their guests to experience local culture in a luxurious way,” Dina Iskander, owner of the eponymous styling house behind some of Egypt’s most stunning weddings and sophisticated events, tells SceneHome. The road to pulling off the enchanting event began with the venue, and the 19th century palace proved ideal with its proximity to the Nile and historic architecture.

The experience starts with an ancient Egyptian theme announcing itself from the entrance. Around 400 guests made their way through the palace’s lush gardens to be met with a stepped passage juxtaposed by a composed arrangement of papyrus. Past the entrance, Arabic melodies were played by an Egyptian band while the villa’s marble columns encircled the main fountain as a backdrop.

“They felt as though they were on a different planet,” Iskander continues. “It was really enjoyable to work with Dior, we learned a lot. They didn’t leave anything to chance and thought of every single detail. It was demanding but enjoyable.”

Dina Iskander is a family-run business that was established in 1996 to style social events such as weddings and corporate events such as the one at the historical villa. When it comes to weddings, the bride - naturally - plays a huge role in how the occasion would look like. Corporate events, on the other hand, offer slightly more leeway. Yet when it came to Dior, Iskander found an exciting medley of both.

“They were hands-on with every single element but it was delightful because of how knowledgeable and experienced they are with events,” she recalls. The design house and its team is renowned for paying impeccable attention to detail which explains how they worked on everything from the event’s architectural plans to the costume designs. This comprehensive approach offered guests an experience that was unique in its portrayal of Egyptian culture.

Their scope covered the overall experience, such as checking traffic from the hotel to the venue. After all, traffic jams aren’t among Cairo’s more beautiful experiences. “Our ethos is based on creating an atmosphere that makes people enthusiastic about being with us. We aren’t selling flowers, we’re selling the experience.” While that entailed curating the food menu, it’s undeniable that aesthetics were the major draw at the palace.

Given the architectural and artistic blend present at the palace, from its coloured glass and intricate woodwork to gilding and artworks, Iskander had to strike a delicate balance. “The palette was inspired by the colours on the palace walls,” she says, referring to the marvellous oil paintings evocative of the building’s baroque style.

The decorations varied from green paintings to floral depictions that made the space exceptionally distinctive. “The architecture, the space, the entrance, everything about the palace proved that it was an ideal location.”

The design house relied, with intention, on local artisans and suppliers to showcase Egyptian craftsmanship on the largest stage. Carpets were produced at a factory in El Harania, Malaika Linens vividly depicted the lotus flower on textured cushions while Hathout Linen embroidered the tablecloths and napkins, while plates were customised by Mahmoud Fathy with two patterns, both inspired by the same ancient Egyptian lotus.

“Everything was custom-designed following a concept that adds a modern twist to ancient Egypt,” Iskander explains. Greenery from local greenhouses added a refreshing touch to the palace’s ornaments. In the corners of the palace, guests would find carefully curated pockets offering alternative seating arrangements, complemented by vintage chess sets. “It turned out to be an astonishing experience, they loved everything.”

“It felt hectic, when we were there we didn’t really get to see the place except maybe at the end of the day, that’s when we had our moment. We took the following day off without thinking twice,” Iskander nonchalantly recalls. “Planning is our favourite stage, taking in the energy and adrenaline of the project. Then, of course, there are moments like when the client is satisfied or gives us an excellent comment.”

Creating appealing visuals with excellent finishes worked for the design house, with the international guests having loved their experience and above all, getting a taste of Egypt. Dina Iskander worked on countless events at iconic locations, including the Pyramids. And while their eyes may be set on exploring more historic destinations, such as, say, the temples in Luxor, their feat in Shoubra was nothing short of pure Egyptian magic.


Photography Credit: Nour El Refai

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