The women's autumn / winter 2021 season of Arab Fashion Week is officially in full swing.
Initially scheduled to start a few days ago, the event's opening was postponed until Sunday because of the mourning period following the death of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
Despite the delayed start, however, the spirit was undimmed, opening with Lebanese singer Maya Diab presenting her latest song, High Heels. Having opened the recent menswear season, it was good to see the singer take her place in the women's calendar, too.
Here are all the events that took place during opening night.
The opening digital show of the season was Amato Couture, which enlisted former Miss World Pia Wurtzbach to star in its film presentation.
Staying true to its aesthetic, Amato offered dramatically structured dresses and gowns, in tulle and beading. With a heavy gothic edge, in all black and covered in beading, the overall styling threatened to overwhelm, but Amato's signature ultra-feminine looks still shone through.
Central Saint Martins graduate Kevin Germanier's eponymous label gave us a beautifully constructed collection that shifted through glitzy eveningwear. Cut as short, sassy dresses in gleaming metallics and razor-sharp suiting, everything was made up of a complex patchwork of glittery panels.
There were shimmering mini dresses, with asymmetric hems and daring cut-away panels, while the best look was a knitted, shimmery cropped jacket and matching mini skirt. In sunset shades of apricot, shifting through to lilac and yellow and overlaid with twinkling panels, it was a marvel.
With the label already worn by Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kristen Stewart and even Bjork, the designer was a semi-finalist for the 2019 LVMH prize.
British designer Bav TAiLOR's video offered well-crafted, gender-neutral looks that used an armoury of novel and clever materials. With a mind to sustainable materials, there were kimono-inspired coats (with removable sleeves for versatility) made from Resilk, a silk of factory leftovers and obsolete stock, making it both eco-friendly and wonderfully lustrous.
Another example of outside-the-box thinking was a clutch, made from the elephant ear plant, that was essentially a leaf, folded into an envelope. Bright green and brimming with chlorophyll, it was borderline genius. Many designers would stop there and pat themselves on the back, but not TAiLOR.
As if trying to outdo herself with every look, TAiLOR also presented a coat made from – get this – Marm \ More, a byproduct of the marble mining industry. A micro-film that uses up to 50 per cent marble dust, the cloth takes its colour from the type of marble used, in this case the anthracite grey of black ebony stone. Cut into a fluid, elegant outer layer, the designer gives an ethereal beauty to industry waste.
Hailing from Milan, and fuelled by Italy's extended lockdown, Francesca Liberatore came up with a charming alternative to a runway show: model images used almost as cut-out puppets set in a theatre. Using dead stock combined in innovative ways, looks arrived as trench coats with tartan fronts, camouflage nylon made into oversize macs, and vaguely 1980s prints cut into roomy two-piece suits.
Showing the breadth of the label, one look was a side-gathered roomy top in ivory silk, worn with a deeply pleated knee-length skirt with black piped stripes, while another was a sleek pair of high-waisted tailored trousers, paired with a cropped jacket. Faux fur, shearling and suede were mixed with satin and brocade for an eclectic collection that offered a solution for pretty much every life scenario.
Rounding off the evening was Polish designer Jap Petelicka, who sent out a parade of gloriously frothy, dressy looks.
The opener was a mass of tightly ruffled tulle, mixed with peek-a-boo panels, while one of the few trouser suits arrived in semi-sheer, unlined black fabric that showed off the tailoring to perfection.
Other looks were more classic, such as fitted cocktail dresses in oxblood red and a cream bandeau sheath dress, wrapped in a gold lace shawl. There were plenty of ball gowns, with hooped skirts and either sweetheart or plunging necklines.
For the truly adventurous, though, the go-to was the Easter chick-inspired yellow cape with hood. Equal part over-the-top and utterly wonderful, it is good to know that Petelicka is happy to push the boundaries for her customers.