From a starting point in Cyprus, one fashionista is using her multicultural heritage to impress finds NIKI CHARALAMBOUS

In 2018, fashion designer Bina Maracchini was recognised as an artist by the Saint Petersburg Artists Society in Russia for her stunning asymmetrical, handmade designs and embroidery.

An impressive designer whose respected fashion business has become a household name in Russia, Maracchini attributes her success to her royal ancestors and the formidable women in her family who shaped her.

Princess Bina of Shilluk was born in Khartoum, Sudan in 1989, and was the granddaughter of King Kur Fafity Yor of the Shilluk Kingdom, who ruled from 1951 until 1974. Due to the Sudanese civil war, Maracchini’s family escaped to Egypt when she was just seven years old.

“My parents chose to relocate to Cairo as our cultures are very similar, and there was a huge Sudanese community there at the time,” she said.

fashion3Her maternal grandmother was the queen, and she was well-known among the Shilluk people, South Sudan’s third largest ethnic Nilotic population, for her contributions and organisation of peace conferences. “She was an excellent leader, and I admired her for being a powerful woman who demonstrated compassion, generosity, and dedication to her people,” Maracchini said.

Maracchini described her childhood as full of happy memories and a close-knit family community, and she had the opportunity to learn various sewing skills from both of her grandmothers although it was the high couture garments in magazines and on television that really caught her interest. “I began making clothes for my dolls, often using my grandmother’s sewing machines when they would leave the house,” she said.

“My mother also influenced my love for the fashion world as she was a professional model, and I always looked up to her for her natural beauty and personal style.”

Maracchini’s family moved to Cyprus after she finished school due to her father’s work in Larnaca, and at her mother’s insistence she pursued an academic degree before entertaining her dream in fashion.

While studying public relations and advertising at the European University of Cyprus in Nicosia, she nurtured her enthusiasm and love for fashion by experimenting with different fabrics, styles, and designs in her leisure time, and travelling to Italy for an intense fashion design and styling course at the Istituto di Moda Burgo in Milan.

fashion4In 2011, Maracchini held her debut fashion show in Cyprus with a full collection, later participating twice in Larnaca Fashion Days.

In 2014, her desire to learn about other fashion cultures and trends took her to Russia, where she immersed herself in the country’s contemporary fashion conventions.

Despite several challenges, such as learning the language, understanding the culture, and determining which textiles were best suited for the Russian winter, she is grateful to be living and working in Saint Petersburg, which she describes as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world, known for its vast cultural heritage, theatres, museums, fashion, and art.”

Maracchini’s designs have evolved from simple, straight-cut designs to original works of art over the years. Her fashion creations for women encompass casual, evening wear, and exclusive haute couture.

“I’m well-known for my hand embroidery and asymmetrical pattern designs, and I would describe the Bina Maracchini brand as one-of-a-kind, elegant and modern clothing that is both comfortable and versatile to wear.”

Another fascinating aspect of Maracchini’s heritage is that her paternal grandfather was Greek, but she never met him. She recalls learning about him from her grandmother, who frequently spoke about him and their active involvement in Khartoum’s Greek community.

She regards herself as an ambitious woman and attributes her success to her maternal grandmother, Queen of the Shilluk Kingdom, after whom Maracchini modelled herself.

fashion2Maracchini’s work is influenced by Sudanese, Egyptian, Greek, African and Russian cultures, with each country’s forms and hues represented.

Social media, particularly Instagram, acts as her visual portfolio, and she has garnered a large fan base on the platform. “I recently launched my website, which includes an online shop, videos showing my creative process, and a blog, which illustrates my thought process behind my collections among other things.”

Although her work has evolved into distinctive, cutting-edge designs over the years, Princess Bina of Shilluk plans to introduce bolder and stronger fashion items that represent women of the modern era, while paying tribute to her rich royal heritage and the powerful line of women in her family.