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Henna reimagined with Dubai-based designer Azra Khamissa

Henna has existed for thousands of years across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, with traditional designs being drawn on the body for various religious and cultural celebrations. The traditional patterns include paisley motifs, mandala patterns, decorative bands, and other designs. 

However, as artist Azra Khamissa was growing up in Dubai wearing henna for various events, she saw the heavier traditional designs and began thinking of ways henna could be worn anywhere at anytime. And thus, she began creating henna art that replaced mandalas with simple lines and shapes or interchanged complicated floral patterns with thin line drawings of a single flower. 

In an interview with CNN, Khamissa recalls testing out new styles on herself as well as her sister and grandmother. Although her grandmother doesn’t always favor the unique designs, Khamissa states that “whatever she likes, I know is a great success, because that’s the real traditional eye meeting up with something new and different.”

Through her artwork, the designer has cultivated an expansive following on Instagram and created non-toxic henna kits that can be used by anyone. To her, “henna should be like getting your nails done, your hair done, your makeup done for a look. Adding henna just tops it off beautifully.”

Quotes courtesy of CNN, images courtesy of Azra Khamissa.

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