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Fashion: A Second Skin in Dubai at The cARTel

Curated by May Barber

Exquisite fine art fashion at The cARTel Dubai by Patricia Millns and Una Burke in “Fashion: A Second Skin” curated by May Barber.

The cARTel is UAE’s one-­of-­a-­kind concept store, that showcases expertly edited upscale and art inspired work of fashion and brings them to its consumers. The store features key art inspired fashion garments and accessories to establish a collection that excites its global customer base.

Streaming Museum periodically collaborates with The cARTel by featuring their art fashion shows and collections.


The cARTel, best described as a platform to showcase and sell the works of carefully curated designers from around the world, launched an iconic exhibition with a theme ‘Fashion: A Second Skin’ between March 14 - March 31, 2016. Taking visitors through an immersive journey, the exhibits of Patricia Millns and Una Burke, were a manifestation of two artistic bodies of work each interpreting the idea of fashion and clothing as an independent shelter enclosing the female body and thoughts alike.

May Barber, the founder and owner of the cARTel, hosted this exquisite event of art and fashion to present how the different aspects of this art projected the mind, body and soul of a woman. Women, being the star and inspiration behind the art by both artists, always have inspired May. In quite a female approach, each artist explored the relationship between fashion as an envelope and the women it encases using a similar constructive process resulting in two contrasting languages. May said, “The work of Patricia Mills and Una Burke, skillfully complements cARTel’s theme, to leave the audience overwhelmed. We were pleased to be the venue for their unique designs and offerings, and assure fashion lovers a truly mesmerizing art experience.”

The audience went on and witnessed each of the two designers’ personal style philosophy in ‘A Second Skin’ – Patricia’s mystically and spiritually captured absence of the women and enveloping the spirit, whilst juxtaposing Una’s structural enveloping and constraining of the female body and emphasizing the physical dimension. May said, “We are elated with the level of artists and their works we are able to bring to the cARTel’s audience. Keeping in line with our objective, with every new exhibition and launch, we guarantee something inimitable, awe-­inspiring and highly desirable.”

Photography: Peter Richweisz


Patricia Millns is an internationally celebrated artist who has very often explored the female spirit in her art with themes derived from Rumi’s poetry and spiritual references. Her dresses, made out of carefully hand stitched empty tea bags, convey the idea of documenting the absence of the women. The very absence of the tea within the bags is further translated into the absence of women and figures within the large scaled ghost-­like dresses. Layered and spatial though seemingly flat, Patricia’s dresses enclose hundreds of white pristine empty tea bags composing the cells of the skin and reminding us of the women who once occupied them. It is a state of the unconsciousness, the absence, and a game of reveal and conceal of thousands of empty bags and untold stories.

Apart from the connotations of women, gender and identity, the work aims to explore the skin as a physical form through a labor intensive technique of hand stitching the tea bags, a mundane process the artist insisted on doing herself in her studio without help from assistants. The meditative process of construction of a lift, the silence of the dresses highlights the dimension of multiplicity of skin while the tea bags, as the artist describes, present connotations of sustainability, ethical practices, and perhaps, even the urban ‘female’ gesture of giving and service of tea.


In Una Burke’s work her structural pattern cutting technique results in leather armoury-­like braces predetermining the body’s positions and challenging its movement. Her body braces examine deformity in the female body and challenge the conventional ‘second’ skin by applying for instance ship shaped structure to form the hunchback jacket, thus exaggerating the physical power of the shell. The work proved to be very physical and composed of rhythmic layers of hand crafted leather structured through metallic studs thus emphasizing the process of construction, repetition and deconstruction at some intervals.


The cARTel’s exhibition of futurist fashion by Iris van Herpen was the designer’s first show in the Middle East. The 3D printed designs involve interdisciplinary research, and she often collaborates with other artists and scientists. Van Herpen’s designs require a unique treatment of material or the creation of new materials, which involves interdisciplinary research and collaboration with other artists and scientists. .


Una Burke, Patricia Millns and The cARTel founder, May Barber . The cARTel is the ultimate destination for avant-garde fashion in the UAE. Situated in the heart of Dubai’s reinvented art scene in Al Qouz, this wearable art gallery and concept store is an exclusive platform for over 60 international designers to showcase and sell their work in an environment granting customers an all-around alternative and luxurious shopping experience.

In addition to being a boutique with experimental collections in Dubai, the cARTel executes conceptual fashion shoots, creative campaigns and fashion films directed by Creative Director Peter Richweisz, including award winning ‘Alchemy’ and his recent ‘Too many doors to oneself’ which featured signature cARTel apparel.

The cARTel creates a symbiosis between fashion and art; reflected in showcased items, the store’s interior aesthetics, and in the events curated regularly, which include fashion film screenings, fashion exhibitions and talks, to offer a dynamic fashion agenda throughout a year.

For more information please contact: 0502803580


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