A definite highlight from this season of FFWD was the Uniti by Babak Vosoughi runway show. Dark and dramatic to the point that it was almost post-apocalyptic, the show presented looks that were both utilitarian and uber masculine. As if part of an army from the future, models sported serial numbers on their foreheads – which were matched with gas masks and Mad Max-esque glasses. Chunky boots were paired with padded tunics and militant-style jumpsuits; leather jackets were topped with futuristic-looking necklines; and coats were seemingly held together by thick strands of mountaineering rope. As the slogan on one stark jumper, "No season", suggested, this was anti-fashion at its most fashionable.
Essa, one of the UAE's best known and most established design talents, served up a masterful experiment in volume for season 10 of FFWD. His collection was characterised by its breadth, particularly when it came to hemlines. On the one hand, there were long, flowing, metallic kaftans that fell to the ground like chain mail, while on the other hand, barely-there little black dresses were playfully paired with knee-length stockings. Most intriguing, however, was Essa's exploration of volume – from oversized shoulders on otherwise unstructured jackets, and asymmetric dresses with a single oversized sleeve, to this voluminous off-white ensemble, which must be applauded for the sheer audacity of its proportions.
As the name of her collection, Golden, suggests, Lara Khoury offered up a delectable show defined by its shimmering metallic palette. She drew inspiration from the work of famed Lebanese photographer Hashem El Madani, to create a collection that pays homage to Beirut in its heyday. Loose silhouettes, layering and pleats set the tone for a line that is particularly easy to wear. Models walked barefoot, in keeping with the show's laid-back earth-goddess vibe, in swathes of gold and bronze, and sported gold foil tattoos on arms, shoulders, necks and ankles.
Arwa Al Banawi looked to the 1980s for inspiration for her latest collection, which sees the designer building on her signature androgynous aesthetic, and pairing boxy cuts with playful patterns. Houndstooth and polka dots were splayed across jackets and trousers, bright pops of orange featured heavily, and one oversized all-white suit was uplifted with jaunty animal-print lapels. A suit consisting entirely of sea-green sequins in a chevron motif was one of the more daring looks, made all the more eye-catching because it was paired with trainers – another Al Banawi trademark.
As part of FFWD's Fashion Beyond Native initiative, Mini partnered with three up-and-coming international designers to create capsule collections that would explore the contrasts between their cultural origins and their adopted homelands. The results were various iterations of the proverbial "urban traveller". Design labels Dress Addict, Wael and Zaid Farouki offered up some thought-provoking interpretations of menswear, but we were most impressed by this take on Emirati attire. A long tunic that is slipped over the kandura, this cape-type garment is topped with an oversized hood that presents an urban, very modern spin on the traditional gutra. We can't wait to see if it strikes a chord.