A look at Fatema Fardan’s collection – the first by an Emirati designer at New York Fashion Week

Fatema Fardan seamlessly transported the Middle East to New York city with her folklore-inspired pieces. In her autumn/winter 2015 collection, forest green, muted red, black and grey are artfully blended into dresses, cropped palazzo trousers, chiffon blouses and heavy, crepe culottes.

A model wearing a piece from Fatema Fardan’s autumn/winter collection. Ron Adar / Getty Images / AFP
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Deep in New York’s trendy Soho district is the Voce Di gallery, the setting Friday night, February 13, for the Emirati designer Fatema Fardan’s autumn/winter 2015 presentation.

Julia Restoin-Roitfeld, daughter of the renowned fashion editor Carine Roitfeld, hosted the event.

Pounding music, courtesy of DJ Leigh Lazark, can be heard on the sidewalk and it becomes instantly clear that Fardan’s New York debut, for which the gallery has been transformed into a garden, will be a memorable one.

As the first Emirati to showcase her collections in New York, Fardan seamlessly brought the Middle East to the city with her folklore-inspired pieces.

“I was looking at traditional folklore clothing and thinking how I could translate them into clothes that the contemporary woman would like to wear,” says Fardan.

Forest green, muted red, black and grey are artfully blended into dresses, cropped palazzo trousers, chiffon blouses and heavy, crepe culottes.

“I did a lot of research and took elements from heritage clothing but refined it into a manner that can be versatile,” she says.

In fact, the multifaceted nature of Fardan’s latest collection is striking – full-length velvet evening gowns alongside oversized woollen jumpers and fringed leather skirts – weaving a well-balanced second season for the label.

Following in the theme of her first presentation, Fardan went with her signature floral backdrops; however, this time in warm colours.

“I have a major love affair with nature, so it’s important for me to incorporate aspects of it in my spaces,” she says.

Restoin-Roitfeld and Lazark wore pieces from Fatema Fardan for the event. “It was fantastic,” says Fardan. “They both looked beautiful.”

The celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and many industry insiders were drawn to Fatema Fardan and came to the presentation to scope out her designs.

Perhaps what attracts people to Fardan’s pieces is how much of her personality comes through in each look. It’s a rarity for young designers to find their voice in a sea of trends and fabrics; doing so requires a sharp eye for design and approachability.

“I think about the mix-and-match aspect when I’m designing,” she says. “The way that we live nowadays, as modern consumers, we don’t wear one brand or kind of design from head to toe.”

That much is clear from each piece of Fardan’s latest collection – individually, every item has its own solitary appeal and is clearly designed with the option of pairing with another garment.

Fardan also has an open mind when it comes to continually finding new sources of inspiration. “To be a designer you have to be open to different ways of thinking and different cultures,” she says. “You see that in most of the important designers; they’re like a culture sponge – they pick up everything from different people and places and translate it to their own design vision.”

Within the presentation, Fardan’s way of communicating through clothes is evident. “I love learning about people through fashion – I think that fashion allows for conversation to start flowing,” she says.

Throughout the night, Fardan looks very much in her element. She credits this to her exposure to the international fashion scene while working at Bora Aksu and Tata Naka in London.

Asked about any hitches in an otherwise smooth presentation, Fardan shrugs and says: “We had some shoes missing, so that was a bit stressful, but that’s it.”

Fardan sees many more international ventures in her label’s future. In addition to showing again in New York, she has Paris in her sights.

Did the presentation live up to Fardan’s expectations? “The whole night felt like a beautiful dream,” she says. “The ambience was perfect – it was everything I wanted it to be.”