What to expect from Saudi Arabia's first Red Sea Fashion Week

The kingdom is stepping up its ambitions to put itself firmly on the fashion map

The first Red Sea Fashion Week will take place from May 16 to 18. Photo: Red Sea Fashion Week
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First it was Dolce & Gabbana taking its Alta Moda to AlUla for a fashion spectacular. Then Saudi Arabian designers exhibited their work at Paris and Milan fashion weeks, under the umbrella of Saudi 100.

Riyadh Fashion Week launched in 2023. And most recently, Lebanese designer Rami Kadi took a leaf out of the Dolce & Gabbana book by staging his latest couture show at AlUla.

The first Red Sea Fashion Week will begin on Thursday, showing that the kingdom has big plans to put the nation firmly on the fashion map.

Running until May 18, the event is being held at the newly opened The St Regis Red Sea, located on a private island and accessible only via boats.

It is the latest initiative of the Saudi Fashion Commission, which is looking to support and nurture fledgling fashion designers within the kingdom.

Seven designers will showcase their collections across three days. In addition, there will also be showroom visits, to allow visitors to see the collections up-close.

Kicking off the event is a show by Tima Abid, the Saudi Arabian designer who has previously shown her evening wear as part of Paris Haute Couture week. With 16 years of experience, Abid is well known across the region for elevated evening wear and deftly cut bridal gowns. With an eye for a simple silhouette, Abid's pieces often mix an understated outline with technical details such as cut outs.

Day two opens with a show by Eau, which is then followed by the runway show of Sara Altwaim, a Saudi designer known for an updated romance about her work, and whose past collections include a full skirted look in pale nude lace and black trimmed seams, and a bridal look crafted entirely from lace, with integrated lace gloves.

Next will be Yasmina Q, famous for breezy, lightweight knits in soft sorbet colours designed as body skimming dresses, as well as top and trouser matching separates.

Day three begins with Hadia Ghaleb showcasing its modern, edgy swimming alternatives for women who prefer to cover up on the beach. Think long sleeves, high necks, shorts and wraps, as well as headcoverings, all of which come in colour blocking and patterning.

Then it will be the turn of niluu. The only non-Saudi showing, the Turkish brand uses sustainable vegan silk to create fluid resort wear in dazzling prints.

Rebirth, meanwhile, will close out the week, with its elevated bohemia. Founded by Tala Abukhaled, the label is skilled at incorporating traditional techniques into its modern designs, such as weaving turned into crop tops and knotted macrame as flowing belts.

Rebirth's recent project combined traditional Palestinian tatreez embroidery with sheer tops, the result giving the illusion of the colourful stitches hanging in mid-air.

As a first for the Saudi region, this show promises to underpin the breadth of talent emerging from the kingdom.

Follow The National's @luxuryexplained account on Instagram for live coverage of the event

Updated: May 15, 2024, 9:54 AM