Fashion Forward Dubai, The Mecca of Middle East Fashion


Dubai is a cosmopolitan city of skyscrapers, Rolls Royces, and mega malls.  It is now becoming known for its fashion scene as many Middle East designers make their home there. It has also become the place to showcase talent from the larger region through the mantle of Middle East fashion the Fashion Forward.

In its fourth season, Fashion Forward is as much a concept as it is place to take in the latest creations of region’s emerging and heralded designers. Twice a year, the talented team from Fashion Forward put on a fashion forum where the industry meets to talk fashion, network, learn from the experts, and present their latest collections. Their motto is that Fashion Forward is not a week of fashion nor a fashion week: FFWD is a fashion movement.  And the goal of the movement is to be an incubator for the Middle East fashion industry to flourish.  


FFWD founder and CEO Bong Guerrero shares his ambition.  Fashion Forward (FFWD) aims to be the definitive fashion platform for the Middle East – a fashion movement that highlights strengths, inspires and nurtures industry growth and its wealth of talent, with the ultimate goal of driving forward the entire fashion industry in the region.



Over the three days of Fashion Forward, there are fashion panels where aspiring designers and the industry learn from experts.  There is also the fashion garden for companies to expose and sell their fashion wares to new clients. It’s also a pretty cool scene with VIP receptions and a few parties thrown in for good measure.


The highlight of Fashion Forward is of course the fashion catwalk. This is a forum for designers to be discovered as well as a place for internationally renowned designers to share their latest creations at home. Many designers are just beginning their fashion careers such as those presented by the Starch Foundation   which  is a non-profit organization that helps launch Lebanese emerging designers. 



One of the internationally heralded favorites at Fashion Forward is Michael Cinco . The Dubai-based Filipino designer, Michael Cinco, is best known for his fabulous couture gowns and is a staple of Fashion Forward with his show being the finale of opening night.    Cinco has worked with the likes of international supermodels, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell as well as Hollywood stars like Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Paris Hilton, Sofia Vergara, Dita Von Teese, Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas, Chris Brown and Mischa Barton, among others. He designs were also featured on America’s Next Top Model and he has won many awards for his designs.  


I always like Micheal Cinco, he is artistic without being garish and creative without being crazy. His designs are fresh and unique as he combines fabric, dentaile, and Swarofski crystals to create wearable beauty.  I could easily see his fashions on Hollywood’s top celeb at a red carpet or any high society gala. These are not dresses to wear to go to the grocery store.



Fashion Forward is a venue to learn about regional designers such as Maral.  Dr. Maral Yazarloo has an interesting background as do most of the designers. She went to India to complete her PhD and did her thesis on retail in India and fashion trends.

Her intelligence and creativity are apparent in her designs as she skillfully blends Indian design influences of embroidery, fabrics such as silks and linen, and European cuts into a beautiful mélange of cultures and style.  The collection  exuded life with a vibrant use of color which was exciting and tasteful. Each piece was very wearable for formal to less formal events. The detailing of the embroidery was exciting to watch as each piece artfully dazzled into the next. The collection was perfect cocktail of Indian, Persian, and European influence while being completely originally Maral.




Another designer that I found to be fresh and original in his designs was Jean Louis Sabaji. He is a Lebanese designer who started his collection two years ago. The designs are edgy and far out with a focus on texture and extravagance. You’ll see a lot of braiding of fabrics and three dimensional design work. 



The inspired techniques included  silicone, unfinished organza, beading and braiding. This collection was not made for the trip to the mall or a day at work; these designs are for the futuristic and fashion brave.   

The Phillipino designers are a pillar of the Dubai fashion scene and have been a key part of pushing the fashion envelope to a higher level. Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Europeans add to the mix of influences that are creating a fashion scene as global as the city of Dubai itself.

Amato is one of the Pilipino fashion transplants in Dubai and is the grande dame of Dubai fashion. Amato by Furne One  boasts a long list of international clientele that includes supermodel Heidi Klum and singing sensations Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Shakira, Heidi Klum, Nicole Scherzinger, and Amber Rose.



Each year the Fashion Forward crowd of fashionistas grows at his shows which have been the finale for the past four seasons of Fashion Forward.  The scrum of photographers, bloggers, and the general audience line up an hour before to get a good place to view this show which is always at capacity. And this year did not disappoint.




Amato’s signature is the use of Swarofski Crytals, embroidery and embellishment to create beautiful worlds of wearable art each one as special and unique as the last. His shows, like his designs, are full of creativity and drama.  There was a video presentation before the show which set the tone for a show that was stunning and memorable.



Each season the shows at Fashion Forward evolve to the next level while introducing new talents as well as sharing the new collections of familiar designers. Fashion Forward tastefully combines the many catwalks, with dialogue and debate about the fashion industry, sharing and learning opportunities, networking, and purchasing opportunities. Bong Events and the Fashion Forward team, in this fourth season, have again done it right for the collective benefit of the design industry in Dubai and the Middle East and the fortunate fans and fashionistas. With the emphasis on the design industry and creating a movement that supports fashion in Dubai, Fashion Forward has created a sustainable platform to support, nurture, and showcase Middle East fashion to the world. 






Photos Credit:  SS Fashion Photography (unless otherwise noted.)

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