Introducing ‘Henna by Alisa Parveen’ – a budding architect with a passion for henna

Henna, or ‘mehndi’ parties are one of the most important functions for a Hindu bride in the lead up to her wedding. But until very recently, finding a quality henna artist in Australia was a challenge. 

I caught up with one young, up and coming talented artist by the name of Alisa Parveen who gave me an insight into her work as well as share some common myths and misconceptions about henna.

Henna artist, Alisa Parveen | The Maharani Diaries

Alisa has been trading at markets and festivals in and around Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore. In fact, the architecture student/part time henna artist was just recently in Singapore for the launch of her book, titled, ‘The Henna Narrative.’ She also appeared at The Henna Circle Australia conference over the weekend in Sydney to run some workshops as well as attend a few herself.

The talented artist has 15 years of henna drawing experience behind her. A native to Singapore, she started applying henna frequently at the mere age of 9 at the Hari Raya Bazaar in Singapore as well as in her mother’s henna studio (Parveen Ayurvedic Beauty Care). She would watch the Pakistani women working in the studio and picked up the inspiration to try her hand at the delicate art of applying henna. In between attending school and studying, Alisa continued her passion for henna art by participating in events, festivals and facilitating bridal appointments.

Alisa’s designs are unique, intricate and look highly professional. She can differentiate between Indian, Arabic, Indo-Arabic, Moroccan and Western henna patterns. She loves to challenge her creativity and is always experimenting with new, innovative designs as seen regularly on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

‘The Henna Narrative’ was Alisa’s first publication and she’s still abuzz with the success of the book launch held a few months ago in Little India, Singapore.

“I finished my first book 5 years ago before moving to Sydney for studies. However, there was never a right moment to launch the book. I was travelling back and forth from Sydney to Singapore and it would never be for long periods of time. I desperately wanted to showcase it in my home country and preferably during the Diwali or Hari Raya festival. So, I sought approval and support from the National Heritage Board of Singapore (NHB) and finally the ball got rolling. Within 1 month, I completed the book featuring new, more updated designs, sent it to the printers and launched it during the South Indian festival, Pongal.”

The response from the book launch was beyond her expectations and she was elated that she managed to sell numerous copies of her book.

In addition to launching her book, Alisa collaborated with the Little India Shopkeeper & Heritage Association (LISHA) to organise Singapore’s first henna competition. She saw it as an opportunity for the henna artists of Singapore to showcase their work and expand their portfolio. This was the first of its kind and given the chance someday, she mentioned that she’d love to take part in it herself.

Whilst chatting to Alisa, I found her to be a well grounded young woman who shares equal passion and drive for henna and her architecture studies.

Henna by Alisa Parveen | The Maharani Diaries

You will often find Alisa creating brilliant works of art such as this at popular markets around Melbourne and Sydney.

 

Alisa feels incredibly calm, relaxed and in her element when doing henna. She loves creating and coming up with new patterns every week. It gives her joy when she can make someone else happy by doing something so effortlessly. She finds inspiration everywhere and also adds that architecture and henna design sometimes goes hand in hand.

“Inspiration is all around you, everywhere you go. I often find inspiration from my henna books from India, but I also love Instagram. The henna community on Instagram is huge and it’s nice to take a look on social media every now and again to not only connect with the artists, but to also see what they are creating.”

Nowadays, in Melbourne, apart from studying for her Masters degree in Architecture at the University Of Melbourne, she’s also constantly looking for opportunities to show her talent. Alisa has applied henna for many brides in Singapore and a few in Melbourne and Sydney. She has expressed a desire to work with more brides in Australia.

On the topic of bridal henna, I asked Alisa what she thinks brides should be weary of before selecting a henna artist for their wedding.

“I believe that you should be able to see the artist’s work before hand. If they have a portfolio or website where by you can see their work, that would be great. Ensure that the designs they show you are legitimate and their own work. This is extremely important as there are a lot of imitators out there. Finally confirm what type of henna they will be using. Some henna can often cause an allergic reaction in some people, particularly the ‘instant’ ink type which isn’t commonly used. If possible, have a trial done a month or two out from the wedding day.”

She also added that she doesn’t have a personal style and doesn’t believe in trends. For brides, she has exclusive designs which she offers as a special ‘bridal package.’ She will always do finer, Indo-Arabic henna work for Indian brides. However, the use of void space in bridal henna is becoming increasingly popular these days. She also added that some brides still love the fuller style designs, but every individual has different tastes and also an idea of what they’d like their henna to look like on the big day. Furthermore, it also depends on the religion or background of the bride.

Alisa only uses natural henna and specifically mentions that it’s the same henna for every client. There is no such thing as “bridal henna.” All her cones are made up the same way and she never compromises. She’s a perfectionist when it comes to applying henna and prides herself on the quality of her work.

Currently, she is based in Melbourne and provides henna services for public or private events held in Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore. Having just returned from conducting some busy Indo-Arabic and bridal henna design classes at the henna conference, she said that she’s going to now focus on completing her Masters course and once again return to Singapore. She expressed a desire to appear at more markets in Melbourne and would also love more appointments.

Alisa’s book, ’The Henna Narrative’ includes a series of more than 40 henna designs ranging from basic beginner designs to intricate bridal narrations and a peek into Alisa’s 13 years of henna experience. She sets high achievements for herself and would love to produce more books in the future, continuing her passion for this popular art form.

The Henna Narrative | The Maharani Diaries

Henna by Alisa Parveen | The Maharani Diaries

If you are a bride in Melbourne, Sydney or Singapore or someone who just loves henna and you’d like to get in touch with Alisa or get your hands on a copy of her first book, visit the vendor page.

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