Noora Khalifeh on Spreading the Art of Palestinian Tatreez at Dar Noora Palestine!

Dar Noora Palestine is nothing but a young artist’s dream, it is a walk to the old city of Jerusalem with love and appreciation for its heritage. Dar Noora’s products infuse modern styles inspired by Noora Khalifeh’s personal experience of Jerusalem with traditional Palestinian ‘Tatreez’. Noora is a fashion designer, an entrepreneur, and a mother of 3. Her dream always revolved around fashion and the influence Jerusalem had on her. So, with a heart full of drive and love for her heritage, Noora Khalifeh founded Dar Noora, where she merges between cross stitch and new cuts, designs, and models to let the world know of the beauty that is Palestinian design and Tatreez. 

We sat down with Noora to know more about her journey! 

Tell us how the brand started, where did you find the inspiration to bring “Dar Noora” to life?

Actually, It started when I was a child. I used to accompany my father at his shop in the old city. He had an antique shop that sold authentic thobs and jewelry.

Living in this environment, with all the scenes, scents, colors, styles, the heritage, and authenticity of Palestine. It all paved the way to Dar Noura. The woman who inspired me was a jewelry maker, I saw her many times, she helped me explore what I wanted, what my inner soul wanted.

I followed baby Noora.

How do you think your upbringing in Jerusalem has affected the way you pursue art and fashion?

When artists are born in Jerusalem, the city is a big part of their identity and artistic exploration. The smells, the fabrics, the different people, the coffee. It all spoke to me. The stones, the history, and the spiritual elements of the city have impacted me deeply.

Also you meet people from different walks of life: the falaha, Russian tourists, spiritual people, and the soldiers. All these fashions and expressions. You feel their character through their choice of dress. That’s what fashion is, fashion talks. I can understand who you are through your dress.

Jerusalem is a small city with big characters. 

It is different fabrics merging, and interacting. Different sounds: sales men, the churches, and mosques in the bustling city. These conditions are a blessing for the artist. And really allow a different kind of art even. I remember imagining the stairs in Damascus gate as a runway, watching a show of some kind.

Why do you think providing jobs for Arabs, especially in fashion, is important?

It is so important to have this face for the brand. I have a background of working on social, and economic stability, and  Entrepreneurship with the chain of production, all who are women from all sorts of backgrounds and areas. 200+ women work with me, to establish the final product. We make sure to empower and ensure these women socially, and economically. Our space allows women to meet, converse (tfadfed), find friendship, and create solidarity.

I see myself as an active bridge between these women, even as far as bridging the customers with the hands behind the thobs. My place is associated with a “salon”. This adds value to my work in Dar Noora.

‘Tatreez’ is very integral to Palestinian fashion culture, when did you decide it was important to incorporate it into modern fashion?

I decided that a long time ago. I feel like as a nation, we are entitled to our own heritage and its fashion, despite the occupation, and the other priorities that take up from the fashion.

Moreover, I talk through my designs and stitches about my nation.

I also talk about the struggles of women.

I create motifs that help me bring up these subjects, for example, the cross-stitched Palestinian sunbird, that roams the sky looking for freedom. 

Fashion is so repetitive, but it’s important to have heritage fashion with new innovations, and new conversations. Not just for Palestine, but for the whole region that relates to our human struggles.

What were the challenges that you faced while trying to bring your brand to life, and how did you overcome them? 

Of course, there are legal financial struggles. When I started my business, there was a lack of fabrics in the region. I will never forget though when I was 28, starting the brand, I would be asked by customers “where’s the owner?”. And it was just me. I had challenges in being taken seriously, in front of the customer, going to buy fabrics, going to the whole saler for pricing and such. Now I lead a path for younger designers to follow in my steps and it has been very rewarding to provide help to them.

What can female Arab voices bring to the fashion scene that no one else can? 

Female Arab voices bring a lot. It’s her voice, so no one else can bring that voice of the region but her. I think it’s so important for global fashion as an industry to have this perspective. 

We have a role, to protect the culture and heritage of our ancestors. To retell and give other perspectives from this deep knowledge.

The Arab woman should be like a warrior, she needs to embrace this sector. Even though we are ancient in this field but there has been oppression towards the Arab voice, and its fashion. The western domination over the fashion platform doesn’t make space for Arabian aesthetics or stories. 

What would you like to say to the women of Palestine, the artisans and the craftsmen, who kept the true art of Palestine alive?

As Palestinians, our trees and our roots were stolen, but the female artisans and craftsmanships still operate with what they have. They are the guides of the town. They keep the memory and knowledge of our history. Every morning, they weave the story. Because of these artisans, Palestine finds continuity through the rootedness in the craft. They gatekeep the city and its looted treasures. The essence never died nor will die.

The number of artisans is rising again, stitching the story every morning. They never forget nor will they allow us to forget.

Where do you want to take Dar Noora next?

Dressing famous figures that share the same values and fight for the indigenous peoples of the world. I want to expand my brand to regional cities. To be exposed to places, and cultures that would benefit from learning our story through embroidery. We are being stolen from daily, artistically speaking as well. We must continue to carry our craft and story and share it from a pure place.

Most women have had to answer the question “Hanefra7 Biki Emta ” (When are you going to get married) before in reference to marriage, despite any accomplishments they may have already made, what would/did you say in response to that question?

The question of when will you get married, limits women’s happiness only in the context of marriage. Society summarizes a woman’s role in that aspect only, and everything she does after she gets married gets neglected because to them, she’s already fulfilled the most important aspect. It’s like whatever a woman does, and no matter what she accomplishes, the only thing that’s highlighted is her marital status. That is very discouraging for all women. Every woman deserves to be happy with the goals she sets for each phase in her life because each phase has a different kind of happiness. So, the real question here is, when are we going to be happy and proud of every woman’s accomplishments? 

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