Fashion Forward Dubai concluded its October 2019 edition this Saturday. The four-day event included not only runway shows, but also talks on diverse aspects of fashion such as sustainability, celebrity brand collaborations, and even a conversation with Laudomia Pucci (daughter of Emilio Pucci) on heritage and innovation. Founded in 2013, it has been one of the region’s most important platforms for emerging designers to showcase their designs. Post a two year hiatus they came back with some serious talent. Whilst fashion from the Middle East has primarily been known for its red carpet looks, it’s worth noting that prêt-à-porter designers from the region are equally talented. Here are some of our favorite designers from the show.
This young Lebanese is one of the few designers with a strong focus on sustainability. Taking Lebanon’s garbage crisis into consideration, Helou sources fabrics from dead stock and opts for vintage fabrics instead. His eponymous label’s sportswear inspired FW19 collection is the one we’ve got our eyes on, featuring oversized coats, loose shirts, maxi skirts with zipper detailing, bomber scarves, and even a t-shirt that can be worn as a shirt, the clothes are chic and effortless. What’s more is that the FW19 campaign was actually shot at a landfill site that has been accumulating waste for decades, and actually makes you think.
One of the region’s most adored RTW designers, Saudi Arabian Al Banawi’s take on luxury streetwear is seriously cool. Think pop culture inspired logo tees, androgynous suits, and slip dresses paired with sneakers. When momager Kris Jenner is seen on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s July/August issue wearing a blazer from the designer, you know she’s worth knowing. Her SS20 collection featured primarily oversized silhouettes, including blazers with 80s power shoulders (we’d like the pink one please), utilitarian cargo shorts, long shirt dresses with the phrase “The Suitable Woman” inscribed on the sleeve, and amazing suits.
Yet another highly sustainable label, Saudi Arabian founder and designer, Sadeem Abdulaziz Alshehail makes clothes that transcend all trends. Using non-toxic fabrics, the designer strictly works with eco-friendly textile mills. Her collection ‘Abwaab’ which translates to ‘Doors’ is inspired by her country. Infusing modern techniques and silhouettes with cultural patterns like the Sadu, a recurring motif in the collection, the clothes were classic yet contemporary. Using only black, white, and red, the lineup showcased easy cocktail dresses, chic tracksuits, cut-out blouses, and luxe flared trousers.
Mariam Yeya, founder and designer of Dubai-based label Mrs Keepa, has enviable personal style (one look at her Instagram page and you’ll know what we mean). Mariam’s designs are often dramatic and colourful with a vintage feel to them. Her new collection ‘Les Silhouettes’ features exaggerated silhouettes, colour palette (which we loved), and avant-garde style; tweed shorts and skirts paired with matching bralettes and overcoats. Some looks came with larger than life floppy hats reminiscent of an endless summer. Elsewhere, a kimono style white dress was cinched at the waist with an oversized belt. But our favorite look is the polka dot blouse with leg-o-mutton sleeves paired with high waisted jeans that were textured with colourful threads and frayed denim cut-outs.
Founder of Reemami, Reema Al Banna’s experimental designs have peeked our interest. Her past experience as a graphic designer almost always reflects on her clothes; bold construction, eccentric prints, and geometric silhouettes. Her edgy designs (cropped denim jacket with double metal rings) have not only been celebrated in the Middle East, but also internationally. This year she presented a bohemian-esque collection featuring long dresses that reminds you of ‘The Handmade’s Tale’. With whimsical prints in almost every look, the clothes are quirky yet effortless. A sleeveless dress worn over a sheer, full-sleeved tee is an ode to the 90s. We love the geometric orange jacket with a zipper in the middle.