Designers from the Middle East, Europe and Asia came together for Arab Fashion Week 2019, which was organised by The Arab Fashion Council and Meraas. One highlight of the recent four-day style extravaganza was the venue as it was held at the world’s first Ready Couture store and the region’s first-ever designer acceleration hub, 1422, in Dubai’s City Walk. The eighth edition included runway shows, pop-ups, presentations and private trunk show.
According to the Arab Fashion Council Chief Executive Officer, Jacob Abrian, the event is “a powerful platform for local, regional and international fashion designers and design houses to show the rest of the world how fashion is evolving in the Middle East.” And the trend-setting designs, covetable creations and capsule collections certainly didn’t disappoint guests, whether buyers or fashion lovers.
Here are three regional labels that participated in the event we feel you should have on your radar:
Aiisha Ramadan, the Lebanese designer behind UAE-based label AIISHA, presented a Resort 2020 collection. The designer is known for bridging her passion for extravagant couture with her own personal style, spontaneous attitude and consistent love of life. Featuring high-quality materials, intricate handmade details, fine embroidery, clean lines and layered details, her simple, elegant and timeless dresses have attracted celebrities like Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez and Aishwarya Rai.
An American University in Dubai graduate and winner of a number of prestigious awards, Ramadan collaborated with longtime friends, Si Fashion Galerie. The collection of 35 beautiful and colourful ready couture looks included some pieces the designer imagined from previous collections, giving them a new life.
Other looks were based on previously and constantly loved cuts from the brand’s decade in the industry, giving them a new perception while remaining the same at their core. “Life is about predictable and unpredictable patterns of change, and the only constant factor will be our power to take control of our feelings and attitude towards life. Life is like the changing seasons – while we cannot control the weather, we can control and change our perception; therefore, our entire lives”, Ramadan, who won the Buyer’s Choice Award at the 2018 Arab Fashion Week, said.
Saudi Arabian fashion designer Sara Altwaim grew up in an environment that centered around different arts, helping her develop a love for everything artistic. While writing poetry is a hobby, fashion design is the life’s passion that propelled her to start her namesake label.
She launched her first collection, “Sakura,” in 2015. Altwaim, who has participated in events like Fashion Forward Dubai, gets her main inspiration from Saudi women, who she believes are unique and beautiful. She is already well known in the region for her sumptuous bridal gowns and her use of dense beading and embroidery.
During Arab Fashion Week, Altwaim, who studied Graphic Arts in Jeddah’s College of Art and Design, revealed a Resort 2020 collection. With a growing maturity to her work, the designer, who went on to teach art after college and took the time to develop her own unique style in fashion, is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Blssd is the only non-profit social enterprise fashion brand in the region dedicated to helping women whose lives have been touched by cancer. By establishing the UAE-based label in 2015, Lebanese Lama Riachi, an ovarian cancer survivor herself, wanted to connect consumers with a lifestyle of gratitude and help them give back to the community by supporting cancer patients..
As well being a designer at Blssd, Riachi, who completed her Masters degree in Art Direction and Advertising from the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, is a Creative Director in advertising. She is also the Co-Founder of Blessed (Together), a “growing support group dedicated to providing emotional, educational, spiritual and financial support to anyone whose life has been touched by cancer.”
While basing fierce gratitude as the core value, BLSSD blends clean design aesthetics and effortless quirk with a large serving of urban sensibility. The fashion and purpose-driven brand that focuses on urban, trend-relevant ready-to-wear is known for its careful cuts, earthy palettes, elegant lines and confident minimalism. The Resort 2020 collection shown during Arab Fashion Week included fine examples of their statement-making silhouettes and how they incorporate unexpected details and emphasise being comfortable but still oh-so-chic.