Highlights from Fashion Forward’s season 8 in Dubai Design District

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In keeping with the tradition of seasons past, it fell to designer Furne One of Amato to bring Fashion Forward to a dramatic close on Sunday, October 23 at Dubai’s d3.

In a departure from the sculptural, embellished couture of previous seasons, One sent a refreshingly scaled-back collection before the well-heeled crowd. Models weaved their way around a sandy catwalk, dotted with cacti, in understated dusky rose, buckwheat and sage-green gowns detailed with serpents and swallows. Brogues clad their feet while wimples covered their hair.

Preceeding One's show was that of Emirati designer Madiyah Al Sharqi, who kept energy levels high for the event's final push. She debuted white lace and loose-weave cotton-mix gowns, which were fringed and embellished with fleur de lis pockets, and styled with baseball caps.

Presentations on the previous two days were also standout, here’s a recap:

Ezra steals the show

The opening day's presentations included Saudi-born Arwa Al Binawi's Casa Malana range, which was characterised by boxy, ­double-breasted jackets teamed with matching shorts and kick-flares in bold, bright prints.

Meanwhile, home-grown Dubai label House of Nomad sent 10 men's and 24 women's sports-luxe looks down the ramp. Tops were cropped, pants were palazzo and skirts were mini, in a kaleidoscope of colours. Stealing the limelight and earning himself a standing ovation, however, was Dubai-based designer Ezra with a collection that was an ode to his loyal army of workers. "This collection is dedicated to my artisans who have been with me for the past 12 years, their dedication and love for their craft are all labours of love," he said.

Ezra’s models glided down the catwalk in peaches-and-cream eveningwear accented by ­sequinned capes that looked like spun sugar. Showcasing his ­adaptability as a couturier to work with diverse and challenging ­fabrics, the designer combined natural husks and plant weave with light-reflecting yarns, gold thread, leather and neoprene, to arresting effect.

“I took inspiration from our very own weaving industry in the Philippines,” he said. “The bang [mat fabric commonly used for sleeping or sitting on] truly exudes beauty, but technically, it’s not a textile. The mat is made of a palm, pandan on seagrass leaves which are usually dried then cut into strips and woven into mats. It’s tough to work with, but that hasn’t hindered the endless ­creative capability of Filipino people to use it.”

Emirati label triumphs

Highlights on the second day included Moroccan designer Said Mahrouf's highly wearable oversized skirts and flowing day-to-night dresses in olive, black and tangerine shades. Lebanon's Hussein Bazaza's frayed fabric gowns and brocade skater dresses – adorned with jet beading and gathered with parachute strap belts – were met with excitement.

Ending proceedings on a high was Emirati designer Zareena Yousif. ­Under her eponymous label, Zareena kept lines clean with evening gowns conforming to classic, romantic silhouettes. The Middle East met West in the range of Zareena's pleated kaftans and strapless evening gowns encrusted with twinkling beads and floral embroidery.