The region’s best established style platform Fashion Forward is set to return to Dubai Design District (d3) from October 21-23 with a record number of talented fashionistas lining up to take part.
The event, which is in its eighth season, will showcase the 2017 Spring/Summer collections of some of the best designers from near and far.
Endorsed by the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC), FFWD has revealed a line-up of 31 regional ready-to-wear and couture designers, alongside a schedule of talks and panel discussions.
“Together with the support of our strategic partners, d3 and DDFC, FFWD has evolved each season to become a highly-anticipated event in the region’s fashion calendar and follows Dubai’s national mandate to become a hub for creativity,” says Bong Guerrero, CEO and co-founder of Fashion Forward.
Headline designers include Dubai-based couturiers par excellence, Furne One of Amato and Ezra from the Philippines. Also preparing to wow the fashion pack are Lebanon’s Dima Ayad, Saudi Arabia’s Arwa Al Banawi and French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa.
Among those making their debut at FFWD S8 is Omani designer Amal Al Raisi, Qatari brand HZ by Hissa Zainal and the French-Egyptian designer Mariam Yehia of the label Mrs. Keepa.
Flying the flag for the UAE is Emirati designer Zareena Yousif of the fashion house Zareena. The eponymous label of Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi will also make a return to the runway.
“Fashion Forward has turned attention to a new generation of talent from the MENA region and through its seven previous seasons we have discovered many emerging names in fashion,” says Nez Gebreel, CEO of Dubai Design & Fashion Council. “As an important platform for the design community, FFWD is closely aligned with DDFC’s mandate of nurturing regional designers and we are proud to continue our endorsement for the eighth season. With more designers on show than in previous editions, we look forward to being introduced to some truly exceptional work this October and celebrating creativity from all over the Arab world and beyond.”
Apparel aside, 14 jewellery and accessory designers from the Middle East will lay out their Spring/Summer wares in a dedicated space called The Showcase. Names of note include Bana Sunglasses, Belquis Bags, Natalie Trad and Vinita Michael.
Select designers within FFWD’s portfolio will also take part in an event staged in collaboration with Samsung in France during Paris Fashion Week, which starts on Friday, September 30. As part of can initiative dubbed EPIC — Empowerment Programme through Industry Collaboration — which aims to foster regional talent and jettison brands abroad, an atelier for buyers and media will be set up in the European fashion capital.
On display will be the work of designers including calligraphic jeweller Nadine Kanso under her Bil Arabi brand and Syrian-born Zena Presley who collaborates with artists for her pret-a-porter pieces.
“Founded upon FFWD’s aim to strengthen the regional ecosystem of emerging fashion talent, the event provides a viable platform for regional and international visibility,” says Guerrero, “We’re extending our support to designers and d3 creative partners via our recently launched EPIC Samsung programme which aims to cultivate their success throughout the year with initiatives, such as the showroom in Paris.”
Rounding out the schedule of industry-focused events in Dubai, FFWD’s d3 talks and interactive sessions this season will tackle the topics of the current retail climate, how to source funding, brand development and trend forecasting.
Set to draw a crowd, French-Arab model, muse and filmmaker Farida Khelfa will chart the successes and challenges of her rise in the world of fashion. Sharing his insights on how to innovate a brand while retaining its identity and heritage will be Alexandre Peraldi, design director for iconic Swiss watchmaker Baume & Mercier. And completing the speakers agenda is Riccardo Vannetti of design consultancy Pitti Immagine and Barbara Trebitsch of Milan’s Domus Academy, who will advise designers about working with manufacturing partners.
Of the international buyers invited to attend FFWD next month, the shortlist comprises of Nadine Naji from Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, Daniela Schulte Bulmke from Neiman Marcus in Milan, Maria Vinokurova from District 78 in Moscow and Margreeth Olsthoorn, owner of her eponymous fashion entity in Amsterdam.
• Fashion Forward Season 8 runs from October 21-23. Online registration is essential and tickets range in price from Dh50-200. For a full schedule of events and more information go to www.fashionforward.ae