Suhair Sultan lately revealed her first e book, a youngsters’s story about Lebanese dressmaker Elie Saab.
The Lifetime of Elie Saab might appear to be an unlikely story for youngsters, however for Sultan, the designer’s story is ideal, because it encapsulates themes of hope and kindness, two traits she feels are keenly wanted in right now’s world.
“The entire thing began in 2018,” she tells The Nationwide. “I walked into Kinokuniya bookstore within the Dubai Mall and noticed a collection of books about well-known characters, however they had been all folks from the western world.”
Rising up in Manchester, Sultan was, she says, a baby who used to learn quite a lot of books and had all the time beloved the theme of hope contained throughout the pages. “I beloved it, all these books that talked about when you work exhausting you’ll be able to obtain many issues. However I did not see that right here.
“So I stated to myself, ‘think about if I can write books for the kids within the area about characters they’ll relate to, that went by hardships however went on to grow to be profitable and well-known. Let me write about characters that exist within the Center East proper now.”
She was uncertain the place to start out, however inspiration got here from a documentary a couple of designer. “I noticed Elie Saab held the marriage of his son in Lebanon. He might have had it anyplace, however he stated that he wanted the folks in Lebanon to generate income.”
Struck by his willingness to assist carry others up, Sultan started researching him and found that not solely was Saab now a world-famous couturier however, as a baby, he had survived the Damour bloodbath in Lebanon in 1976. She knew she had her topic. “I wish to inform youngsters, that is the place he began and that is the place he has bought to.”
For example her story, Sultan reached out to artist Cath Donaldson in Abu Dhabi, and the pair had a collection of conferences over quite a few months in a espresso store in Dubai’s Iba Battuta Mall, as a result of, says Donaldson, it was “midway between the place we each dwell”.
Donaldson was impressed with Sultan’s willpower to carry the story to a wider viewers. “Her entire thought is actually attention-grabbing,” Donaldson explains. “There are tons of books about high-achieving folks, but it surely tends to be western folks, so her thought is to take a look at folks within the Center East. She has this huge imaginative and prescient.”
It took Donaldson six months to finish the illustrations, most of which was spent on analysis. “As this can be a true story, it was actually vital I bought the sensation of Beirut within the Seventies, even right down to the garments that folks wore, the buildings, the road indicators and what the automobiles had been like. I watched so many aged movies.”
With the e book coping with Saab’s escape from Damour, and his subsequent rise to style fame, the pair deliberated on how greatest to translate so youngsters might perceive with out it being horrifying. “I needed to discover a approach to illustrate a extremely tragic occasion — the bloodbath — the place all of a sudden all of them needed to go away of their automotive,” Donaldson explains. “Sultan’s language is actually good, and fairly open-ended, so the dad and mom can resolve to elaborate or go away it at that. The drawing is them simply driving away, whereas giving the dad and mom a possibility to speak about it.”
Donaldson’s work is vital to the e book, particularly in documenting two highly effective moments in Saab’s life: his household’s escape from Damour and Halle Berry gathering her 2002 Oscar sporting one in every of his robes, a transfer that propelled the designer on to the world stage.
Whereas Donaldson created the drawings, Sultan encountered a brand new drawback. “Publishers informed me, that is by no means going to occur, you want Elie Saab’s permission. So I referred to as his firm and stated: ‘Can I write your life story?’ He was travelling so I needed to wait two weeks, however then his PR lady referred to as me and stated he loves it. Go forward.”
Inspire Media Group picked up the e book, publishing it first in English to gauge the general public’s response, with plans for an Arabic model later. Having taken 4 years, Sultan admits it was an emotional second when she lastly held a duplicate in her fingers.
“Can I let you know the reality? I cried,” she says. “I can’t let you know the journey, the ups and downs. I used to be going to surrender, however discovering Cath was a miracle. I’m sending her a signed e book with the message: ‘Thanks for replying to my e mail. You modified my life that day.'”
Though the journey has been intensive, there’s an echo of Sultan’s personal expertise in Saab’s story. “All the time be variety to folks, as a result of you do not know what they’re going by. After we see folks like Saab we expect, Oh they will need to have had such a simple, fantastic life, however no, he has gone by a battle, and that’s why he’s variety. That’s the message of the e book. Simply be variety to folks and see what occurs.”
Up to date: June 05, 2022, 2:15 PM