Regional fashion designers join initiative to raise money for children with autism

The Autism Spectrum Fashion Collection is now being auctioned online

To support World Autism Awareness Day, which took place on Friday, a regional campaign has been launched to raise awareness and funds for people in the UAE who are on the autism spectrum.

The campaign, called the Autism Spectrum Fashion Collection, will benefit non-profit organisation Senses Residential and Day Care for Special Needs. The Dubai group has been supporting people with autism as well as offering residential care since 2004.

For this project, 17 regional designers have offered their talents to create pieces that are being sold at auction. Based on the colours of the autism spectrum, each designer has been free to create a piece however they wish, and the result is a dazzling array of clothing, bags and jewellery that shine with metallics and iridescence.

These pieces are now being auctioned off online in two ways. The first is via the usual method, where would-be buyers place a monetary bid on their chosen look at, with bidding open until Saturday, April 10.

The second method is highly innovative: instead of bidding with money, asks bidders to use their knowledge of autism to earn virtual currency. This online money pot is then used to bid for one of four specially selected items.

Although there is a general awareness of the condition, we need to increase the understanding and acceptance of those with autism within the community

These are a men's kimono top by Lebanese designer Roni Helou, a copper evening gown by Egyptian talent Marmar Halim, an intricately embossed metallic bag by Okhtein,  also from Egypt, and a box frame bag in silver skin by UAE brand Native.

Those wishing to bid this way will be sent information once the "bid by knowledge" button is pressed on the website, and then will look to answer a series of questions. The score is translated into virtual currency which can then be used to bid on items. This auction will run until Friday, April 30, when the four winners will be announced.

“Although there is a general awareness of the condition, we need to increase the understanding and acceptance of those with autism within the community," says Dr Nadia Khalil Al Sayegh, director-general of the Senses Residential and Day Care for Special Needs.

“Fashion in this region is close to many people’s hearts, so by creating our very own spectrum collection we hope to appeal to a whole new audience and help to educate them in the complexities of autism. We are so thankful to all the designers who got involved with the initiative and helped to make our vision a reality."

The designers involved in the money-based auction include Lebanon's Rami Kadi, with a mini cocktail dress in mustard yellow, embroidered with flowers; Hussein Bazaza, with a green dress featuring a high funnel neck and puffed sleeves; and Mumbai designer Payal Singhal with a shift dress in pale lemon featuring coin-sized sequins down the sleeves, with a matching banjara mirrorwork oversized clutch.

From Beirut, Jessica K offers a dress in muted molten silver, while the Dubai name Mrs Keepa has created a dress in sea blues and greens, with a metallic sheen. Also from Dubai, Aura jewellery has created a hair clip in snaking gold work with drops of blue and clear glass.

Another talent from the UAE is Arshys, which will offer two lots: a sculpted evening dress in glossy blue satin, as well as a simple blue kaftan, with a belted front detail. Chika will present a iridescent kaftan, while Beirut designer Rani Zakhem has made a flowing blue kaftan with a yellow neck detail.

Another evening dress, courtesy of the UAE name Si Fashion, is a bardot silver gown, while Dubai talent Style Your Armoire offers a oversized trench in lilac, covered in metal hoops and semi-circular shapes. Finally, there is Rabih, offering a men's iridescent top and trousers co-ord, with a white-and-blue floor-length overcoat.

The World Health Organisation states that about one in 270 people worldwide has an autism spectrum disorder. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day.

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