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Nour Flayhan, a designer and "influencer" from the Middle-East

Artist of the week

The young Lebanese illustrator and storyteller Nour Flayhan is the first artist from the Middle East to have collaborated with the famous Italian brand Gucci for its "influence campaigns" on social networks.

Zéna ZALZAL | OLJ
23/12/2019
Two years ago, when Nour Flayhan received a call from Gucci asking her to collaborate on a project, she at first thought that it was a joke. "I was in Lebanon for a family funeral. And I really didn’t expect such a proposal. After the first moments of amazement and disbelief I felt elated”, said the young woman -in all humility-, who OLJ contacted by phone in Portugal where she is currently on a work assignment.

The voice on the phone is clear and fresh. Just like the feminine, colorful and flowery universe of this 28-year-old Lebanese illustrator and storyteller who was selected by the Italian house to illustrate the social media launch campaigns for its Gucci Bloom and Acqua di Fiori perfumes. "In fact, I was part of a selection [LP1] of fifteen women artists approved by Alessandro Michele, the creative director, who were asked to create original artistic works around the idea of ​​a beautiful and aesthetic metamorphosis, that of a young girl into a woman, and the revelation of her authentic self within her circle of female friendships”, she says.

The theme could not have been better for Flayhan, who is well-known for her sketches of young brown-haired [LP2] women often surrounded by vegetation and poetic writing. Flayhan has taken up and adapted her signature elements and style throughout the four illustrations that she created for the Italian brand, and that can now be found on the brand’s Instagram account (Gucci Beauty).

"It is as if the campaign had been tailor-made for me", declares Flayhan who, since then, has been commissioned for another collaboration with the label, aimed this time at accompanying this week’s opening of its beauty space in the UAE’s Dubai Mall.

"I am especially delighted to have been able to introduce the modern face of the oriental woman -whose representation is a priority in my work-, within the universe of this international brand. It is my one way of paying her tribute and of fighting the ongoing cliches about her,” said Flayhan, a Lebanese who was born in the United States but spent her childhood between Kuwait and Lebanon.

From her early days in Kuwait, "in a family open to all forms of art, and with a mother who is a decorator", Flayhan was immersed in artistic traditions and architectural patterns but also in textiles, as well as colors and images found in the films of the Indian community which thrives in Kuwait.

But it was in her grandfather's garden in the Lebanese mountains -where she used to spend her summers-, that she cultivated her love of nature, plants and flowers and this love is strongly expressed in her illustrations.

London - where she studied Visual Communication at the University of the Arts - saw her become fully aware of the richness of this double oriental culture in which she had been immersed.

"While I wanted to conform to the dominant Western codes, my university tutor encouraged me to do the exact opposite: to accept and take on everything that makes me unique and to express it in my work. Starting from my brown skin and my curly hair, ending with the traditions and customs that nourished and shaped me. This is how I decided to share through my visuals, [which I] posted on social networks, the true image of the women in my part of the world.”

Four eyes and a doubly talented
This woman is strong and feminine, combative and romantic, modern and traditional. A woman who speaks the truth, who fights for her rights and who makes her voice heard. In Pakistan, where, last October, she enthusiastically participated in Let Girls Dream, a campaign on social networks denouncing the marrying of underage girls; the artist is socially active, as well as in Lebanon, where she assiduously follows the Thawra (revolution) from wherever she may be, Flayhan has made the Oriental woman the figurehead of her illustrations which are regularly posted on her Instagram account.

Then there are also these intriguing daughters of Eve with two pairs of eyes that she sometimes likes to integrate into her compositions.

According to her, these girls refer to this double vision with which women are endowed. But also to the fact that as a little girl who wore eyeglasses, she herself had suffered the mockery of her classmates who nicknamed her "four eyes". "It is from this experience that I got my strength of character and my power of observation", says this flower woman, this woman of conviction. This "once-shy woman" voices her happiness at being able to express herself in all sincerity, through her art. And for being able to make art a platform of feminine solidarity and commitment for right, beautiful and worthy causes.

February 9, 1991

Born in Boston

2006

The July war influenced her outlook

2013

Diploma in Visual Communication from the University of the Arts in London

2017

First campaign for Gucci perfumes

2018

Second collaboration with Gucci Beauty

2019

Participation in the Let Girls Dream campaign and in the Thawra via Instagram


(This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour on the 20th of December)

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