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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Sauce ropes in confetti artist Jelena Aleksich to launch colourful loyalty programme

The New York-based photographer is the founder of the feel-good Confetti Project

Attendees at Sauce's #Cake event were photographed in Jelena Aleksich's trademark style. Courtesy Sauce
Attendees at Sauce's #Cake event were photographed in Jelena Aleksich's trademark style. Courtesy Sauce

A giant, three-tier cake drips with dazzling silver, gold and hot-pink tassels at one end of the Sauce store in Dubai Mall, while swirling flecks of confetti rain down at the other. The UAE-based fashion store, co-founded by Lebanese designer Zayan Ghandour, has launched #Cake, its first loyalty programme, with much frill and fanfare, offering fans of the multi-brand boutique a chance to get photographed by Jelena Aleksich, founder of The Confetti Project.

The event, part of the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival celebrations, also involved a meet and greet with regional social-media influencer Fouz Al Fahad, better known as @TheRealFouz, with My Fash Diary’s Tala Samman playing DJ.

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The loyalty programme entails a three-tiered level point system that enables customers to move through different levels tiers – pink, gold and white – and qualifies them for access to exclusive sales and discounts, private parties, surprise gifts and cash-redemption opportunities. At the launch event last week, an edible cake almost matched its tinsel-dripping counterpart for size, while fresh juices made their rounds. Sauce also debuted a special line of embroidered T-shirts and beaded sweatshirts, spelling out the words “Cake” and “Confetti”, which retail for Dh285 in-store and online.

Sweatshirt from the new Sauce collection
Sweatshirt from the new Sauce collection

The real stars of the evening, though, were the guests, who posed for mini-sessions with Aleksich. The New York-based photographer is known for her fun-filled shoots that involve dousing people with bucketfuls of confetti, a material that she believes “can instantly turn a sad day into a happy one”. A quick glance at The Confetti Project’s Instagram shows dozens of women, men and children shot against various backdrops – at the beach or within a giant wicker chair or in a studio with a red couch, purple wall, neon lights and other props. Accordingly, for her stint in Dubai, she had come prepared with close to five kilograms of confetti in every imaginable hue.

“The Sauce concept is in line with my own aesthetic: it’s edgy, colourful and different. They had some confetti-centric pieces, which I was most overjoyed about,” Aleksich says. “And based on the people I met, loyal customers of the brand through the years, I realised that the women who are part of the Sauce community may wear different faces, but they are all a certain type of person. They are spontaneous, open-minded and know how to have fun, and they use what they wear to express their zest for life.”

As she does back home, Aleksich asked her subjects to talk or even just think about the tagline of The Confetti Project, which is: What do you celebrate? This is designed to make people go through a range of emotions, which she then captures on camera amid the flurry of confetti. Aleksich started the project when her dad was unwell, and when he died a year later, she says she had her own answer to the question she poses.

“Health. The thing I celebrate the most is my health,” she says. “That I can wake up in the morning pain-free, that my feet can take me wherever I want, that my brain allows me to communicate as I please – it’s the biggest blessing and cause for celebration.” She points out that not all the people who approach her for a photo shoot are content in that moment of time. Her clients may be going through personal or professional setbacks, or may even be in physical pain, often making for more poignant imagery.

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“Life is not always going to be rainbows and unicorns. Being human means being able to balance your joy and suffering, your pain and happiness, not run away from the challenges,” she says. “So the confetti has become a metaphor for that – a means to express and capture both the struggles and the good times. It’s what gives my work more dimension, this fact that not every person who walks in is standing under the exact same spot of sunshine in their lives.”

Except, Aleksich adds with a mood-lightening chuckle, the people she met in Dubai. She says that this, her first-ever trip to our side of the world, was “a whirlwind of people and experiences. My first thought when I walked into the store was that it looks like a museum exhibit – what with all the colours, textures and patterns. Also, I’ve heard Dubai Mall is one of the biggest in the world, and I can totally believe that now,” she laughs. “And the people were all so warm and kind and enthusiastic. This is a trip I’ll always cherish, and I can’t wait to come back.”

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Read more:

The Happy Studio: magic isn't just for children at the Dubai pop-up

Sauce has launched the region’s first online made-to-measure eveningwear collection

Find your happy place: Where UAE residents go in the Emirates to lift their spirits

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