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Covetable clutches backed by a 1,400-year tradition

The refugee-made bags starring alongside a major new exhibition

Covetable clutches backed by a 1,400-year tradition

January 26 2012
Lindsay Macpherson

It might have just celebrated a record-breaking fourth year as the UK’s most popular cultural attraction, but The British Museum isn’t resting on its laurels, as it’s now playing host to the world’s first major exhibition dedicated to the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

An in-depth exploration of a 1,400-year tradition, the show is the result of over two years of negotiations with public officials and 40 different lenders, and showcases never-before-seen artworks, textiles and rare holy artefacts, many dating back to the 7th century.

To coincide with the opening, the museum’s giftshop is launching a capsule collection of leather clutches from UAE-based label Palestyle and British website Fashion ComPassion (in among the inevitable cuddly camels and Persian-rug-inspired mouse mats). Each covetable clutch has been handcrafted by Palestinian refugee women in Jordan and Lebanon, providing them with a sustainable income, and the enterprise also donates five per cent of proceeds to fund projects that support the marginalised women and their families.

The jewel in the crown of the collection is undoubtedly the limited-edition nude-toned leather clutch (pictured, £399), which is adorned with bronze Swarovski crystals and a gold chain, as well as a gold-plated plaque with Arabic calligraphy that reads “Al Hayat Rihla” (“Life is a journey”), symbolising the sacred Hajj journey itself.