Esquire’s Artist of 2018 fuels outcry for global equality

We live in an era where perceptions of equality are as impassioned and divisive as they have ever been. For singer Layla Kardan, it has been a personal mission to subvert the conventions of her Middle-Eastern upbringing, breaking free of expectations and to celebrate the introspective power within, all of which has seen her emerge as an international star with a global message.

Having performed on major UAE stages such as Emirates Airline Jazz FestivalArt Dubai, and the Dubai International Film Festival, the Dubai-based Iranian pop-star has gained support from some of the most respected brands in the world, and has collaborated with one of Saudi Arabia’s most exciting and upcoming fashion designers, Arwa Al Banawi on new single ‘The Suitable Woman‘ – produced by rising Middle-Eastern star ROBN.

While also the slogan behind Arwa’s label, in Layla’s eyes ‘The Suitable Woman’ also represents a generation of Middle Eastern women, with the message of Gender Equality at the forefront.

“The Suitable Woman celebrates her beauty as much as her wisdom and grit, she loves fashion and the arts, she is free and fierce, and she never quits” Layla Kardan 

It wasn’t until she returned for her third stint in Dubai in 2008 that Layla decided to turn her passion into her profession. Even then, doing so meant giving up on the promise of a monthly remuneration that an association with her family business assured her.

“People are a lot more open-minded now [but] my father always held this view that if you’re a singer, you’d be considered as being someone who is either uneducated or belongs to a lower class. I was made to feel that. But growing up, some of my favourite artists had been changemakers. I was fascinated by them and realised I just couldn’t give up on music.” Layla Kardan

Arwa Al Banawi explains further that this collaboration is in perfect sync with what his brand encapsulates:

The Suitable Woman is a bold and expressive woman who is not hindered by fear or limitations. She is intellectual, feminine, fashionable, empowered and humble yet confident. These are women who pursue the things they are passionate about despite the challenges and persevere to see their dreams become a reality and are not deterred by the social expectations from them.” Arwa Al Banawi

Her desire to write songs and perform is at odds with Middle Eastern convention but has proved so utterly overwhelming that she has broken free from these cultural shackles, and yet still remains determined to reflect her cultural upbringing in her music. In combining her assertive fashion-strong image and her engagingly down-to-earth personality, Layla marries her smoky soulful voice with pop, jazz, Middle Eastern and R&B rhythms and melodies, Layla’s sound is evocative and achingly poignant.





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