Ten up-and-coming regional fashion designers you need to know

The finalists of the Vogue Fashion Prize are the new vanguard of Middle Eastern style

Ten emerging regional designers have been shortlisted for the 2020 Vogue Fashion Prize.

Launched by Vogue Arabia in 2015, The Fashion Prize offers a support system and a platform for designers to showcase their talent. It is open to ready-to-wear, accessories and jewellery designers from across the Arab world and Arab diaspora.

The winning designers will receive financial grants, retail opportunities with Net-a-Porter, marketing support and mentorship worth a collective $500,000. In addition, all 2020 finalists will present their work in an exclusive Fashion Prize showroom during Paris Fashion Week in March. The programme is supported by Neom, the mega-city project currently emerging in the north-west of Saudi Arabia.

This year, 250 Arab designers from 20 countries applied for the prize, and were whittled down to 10 finalists, who will now participate in the full Fashion Prize programme, which includes a design challenge and will culminate in a final presentation to the prize’s selection committee in December.

Here are all 10 finalists:

Benchellal, Morocco

Womenswear label Benchellal was established in Amsterdam in 2015 by Moroccan designer Mohamed Benchellal. The brand has already garnered international attention with its playful sculptural designs. The atelier favours a traditional, handcrafted approach, and is also committed to doing business in a sustainable, ethical way. Benchellal pieces have been worn by pop star Camila Cabello and supermodel Helena Christensen.


Born in Exile, Libya

Inspired by Libya’s unexplored culture, traditions and folklore, Born in Exile was founded in 2018 by Ibrahim Shebani, who, as the label’s name suggests, was himself born in exile.

The luxury ready-to-wear brand serves up fashion pieces that reference Libya’s complex political history, with modern reinterpretations of traditional silhouettes. Born in Exile’s first collection, Introduction, was unveiled for autumn / winter 2019 and featured both clothing and footwear. A second collection, Heritage, was presented in 2020, with a third, titled Immigrant, due in 2021.


Emergency Room, Lebanon

Established by Lebanon's Eric Mathieu Ritter in 2018, Emergency Room was founded on the belief that fashion production processes urgently need to evolve. Adopting an ethical approach, Emergency Room uses vintage and deadstock fabrics that are sourced locally, to create one-of-a-kind pieces. All items are produced by workshops and cooperatives around Lebanon, inviting local artisans with a variety of skills to be involved in the process.


Harithand, Lebanon

Born in Baghdad, Iraqi-Lebanese designer Harith Hashim established his ready-to-wear label, Harithand, after graduating from Esmod in 2012. Armed with a passion for art, the designer mixes minimalism with the codes of couture to create collections that combine daring and conservative. His formal daywear and evening pieces are characterised by their ruffles, pleats, sculptural silhouettes and plays on transparency.


Ilyes Ouali, Algeria

Algeria's Ilyes Ouali launched his eponymous brand in 2016. He draws inspiration from the pieces he might find in his mother's wardrobe, which he redesigns and adapts for a contemporary customer. His collections have already been picked up by stockists in the Middle East and he was the winner of Fashion Star Arabia 2019, as well as a finalist in the evening wear category of Fashion Trust Arabia 2020. His aim is to create items that empower their wearer and will last a lifetime. He also hopes to shine a light on the under-representation of Arab and North African women in the fashion industry.


Jude Benhalim, Egypt

Jewellery designer Jude Benhalim graduated from the American University in Cairo with a degree in film. She has partnered with her mother, Rana Al Azm, to launch her eponymous jewellery brand, which creates intricate, nuanced, handcrafted pieces that tread the line between tradition and modernity, and boldness and femininity.


Karim Adduchi, Morocco

An illustrator and designer who grew up in the mountains of Imzouren, Morocco, Karim Adduchi moved to Spain to study art at the University of Barcelona, and then Amsterdam to further his education. His first fashion collection was lauded by the international media, who viewed him as a poster boy for self-expression and globalisation. A year later, he was invited to open Amsterdam Fashion Week 2016. He has since been included in Forbes Europe's 30 Under 30 list and been granted the Amsterdam Culture Business Award. Bridging Arab and western culture, honouring his Amazigh heritage and drawing attention to issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis, he presented his first full ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week autumn / winter 2019-20. The collection, titled Maktub, showcased Moroccan fabrics, embroidery, prints and designs.


Lama Jouni, Lebanon

Having studied at the Esmod Istituto Marangoni and Parsons Paris, Lama Jouni has a firm grasp of fashion history and tailoring techniques. She began her fashion career with respected labels such as Balmain, Rad Hourani and Reed Krakoff, before launching her own ready-to-wear brand. Her contemporary collections are refined but understated.


Lurline, Saudi Arabia

Sisters Sarah and Siham Albinali launched their ready-to-wear label, Lurline, in 2018. Born in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, they spent their formative years travelling between Europe and the Middle East, which has shaped their unconventional aesthetic. Crafted from the finest fabrics, combined with superior craftsmanship, their pieces are described as mixing soft goth, femininity and a hint of dark humour.

Yousef Akbar, Saudi Arabia

Born and raised in Jeddah, Yousef Akbar studied logistics at the University of South Australia, before realising that fashion was his true calling. So he embarked on a fashion degree at the Tafe NSW Fashion Design Studio, which he completed in 2016. He launched his eponymous brand at Australia Fashion Week in 2017. He is fascinated by form and the way that cloth interacts with the body, and is committed to creating clothing that makes its wearer feel good. He uses materials that are recycled and supports local artisans in small communities around the Middle East.