For Swedish-Iranian designer Amanda Navai, 2013 was a year of highlights in an already illustrious career. Her exquisite python-skin handbags have been stocked in two of the world’s best-known department stores, the Dubai branches of Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue; she also worked with French fashion house Hervé Léger. Amanda’s popularity received a further boost with an all-important celebrity endorsement by actress Sienna Miller, who was spotted on several occasions accessorising her outfits with the colourful clutches. The Amanda Navai brand was launched in Dubai in 2008, three years after she settled in the emirate. Last year, Amanda took the next step towards global recognition, cementing her position in the European fashion market by moving her production operation from Lebanon to Italy. As celebrated a designer as she is, however, she’s also won praise for her humanitarian work. The firm is an official partner of the UN World Food Programme, and Amanda’s helped to raise the organisation’s profile in the Middle East as well as fundraising for it. In this capacity, she collaborated with four other regional designers late last year to create a limited edition capsule collection of 16 bags; they were sold to raise money for malnourished children in Syria.