Dubai is the undisputed fashion Mecca of the Middle East. It is the home of a healthy influx of edgy fashionistas from around the world. Avant-garde boutiques and malls wardrobe millions of fashion obsessed locals, transients, and travelers who have a seemingly endless hunger for fashion and the requisite ability to pay. There are homegrown and transplant designers here creating new and fresh contributions to the international fashion scene. It is with surprise that efforts to organize a cohesive format to showcase the Middle East’s fashion talent have previously failed. That is until now with the inaugural Fashion Forward event held in Dubai.
Coming from the New York area, I was born around fashion and expressing oneself though personal style is to be expected. As a recent transplant in Dubai, I didn’t know what to expect and was thrilled to see the real strong emphasis on style and fashion here. With its mélange of influences from Asia, Europe, and the Arab world, fashion in Dubai oozes excitement.
Like a break out new design that you can’t forget on the hot celebrity IT Girl , FFWD burst on the international fashion scene and left its mark. Three days of fashion shows, workshops, power networking, and high fashion, on and off the runway, made this one of the most successful industry launch events in recent memory.
The goal of FFWD is to drive the fashion industry in the Middle East forward through participation of the top regional designers and inspirational speakers from around the world. Fashion Forward (FFWD) aims to be the biggest and most definitive fashion event in the Middle East and is off to a great start. Created by the event management agency BRAG (www.brag.ae), FFWD is more than a fashion week, it is 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.
This four-day inaugural season included numerous catwalk presentations from top regional designers, inspiring talks and panel discussions led by global industry experts and fashion academia, as well as entertainment, through a string of social events and parties. My favorite sessions were the talks about developing and budgeting for a collection lead by former president of Michael Kors, Barbara Lamonica. The workshop on Narrowing the Gap between Couture and Prêt Fashion led by Couture designer Rami Al Ali was also particularly interesting. The social scene did not disappoint with the opening party lead by Pop Icon Prince’s DJ and the Chateau Marmont in LA’s resident DJ Rashida. She kept the party going until the wee hours.
The entire scene was uber-sexy with models dashing about, some hardcore networking between designers and retailers pitching and searchng for the next hot look as well as friends catching up from years past.
So back to fashion. There were around 20 designers and each one came out with something special to share. From apprentice designers to emerging designers to well known established regional icons, FFWD showcased a fragrant bouquet of Middle East talent. The standouts among the standouts, based on personal taste alone, were: Michael Cinco, Ezra, Essa, Emperor 1688, and Zayan the Label.
As an inaugural event, FFWD hit the ball out of the park. And we can’t wait to see what the second installment will bring this October. Like the first event, it will surely bring a new cadre of fresh designers, new surprises and even more global recognition Middle East designers throughout the fashion world.