Nafsika Skourti is an authority on what’s worth visiting in the Jordanian capital. She shares the places that inspire her.
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The Amman fashion designer Nafsika Skourti could have started her clothing line anywhere. Her Paris Fashion Week debut six years ago won over buyers from around the world. But Ms. Skourti, 32, and her sister, Stephanie, 30, headquartered their company in their hometown in 2014 “to teach Arab hands to create clothing with international appeal,” she said. The sisters employ refugees from Iraq and Syria to embroider and bead their edgy designs, which riff on Middle Eastern stereotypes and 1990s pop culture. In their Amman atelier and boutique, you can find curios like rhinestone-adorned bras and her popular signature pants, called the Naughty Trousers.
Growing up, Ms. Skourti recalls, “Amman was quaint and insular — we had maybe one cinema. I remember the first McDonald’s opening, that was a really big deal.” Since then, she said, “the city has grown exponentially. The music scene is booming, there are a ton of pop-up parties, and there’s an entrepreneurial spirit that has given rise to co-working spaces, juice bars and other concepts that are new to this part of the world.” Here, five places Ms. Skourti frequents for inspiration.
Touted as Amman’s first speakeasy, this cocktail bar inside the Conroy Boutique Hotel is where trendy types gather during the colder months (it’s closed in the summer). “They have a small but interesting menu, and even better cocktails. It’s an off-the-beaten-path kind of gem.” House rules include “no name dropping” and “leave your ego at the door.”
Inside the Conroy Boutique Hotel, Shatt Al-Arab Street, 17; instagram.com/offtherecordbar/
Named for the trees on its terrace, this 1950s villa has been repurposed as an Italian restaurant that specializes in Calabrian cuisine. “It’s a little piece of Italy in the heart of old Amman. They offer a small, seasonal menu and utilize the best local ingredients.”
Al Ba’Ouniyah Street 28; facebook.com/JHA23/
Started in the 1930s, this family owned brand makes skin care and fragrance with salt and minerals from the Dead Sea, which are said to have healing properties. The shop, perched atop a hill, offers panoramic views of downtown Amman. “The pomegranate body scrub is a staple in my bathroom.” Products range from about 4 to 40 Jordanian dinar, or about $6 to $56.
Rainbow Street 8B; trinitae.com/
In the home of the fashion collector Widad Kamel Kawar, this museum, with garments dating to the 19th century, is said to be the largest private collection of traditional Jordanian and Palestinian women’s wear in the world. Mrs. Kawar sometimes leads tours of the galleries, explaining how different styles of dress evolved. “If you’re interested in fashion and design from the region, you must visit Tiraz,” Ms. Skourti said. Open Sunday through Thursday; tickets cost 2 dinar for adults, 1 for students, and 10 dinar for a guided tour.
19 Riyadh Al Mifleh Street; tirazcentre.org/en/
With thick marble tabletops, warm orbs of light, and lots of polished brass, this French brasserie inside the Four Seasons Amman serves as a tribute to Paris. “The Art Deco space is incredible. Get the steak frites and enjoy the architecture.”
Inside the Four Seasons hotel, 5th Circle, Kindi Street; fourseasons.com/amman/dining/restaurants/la-capitale/
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