Brands from the UAE, Lebanon and Syria making waves at Paris Fashion Week

Big and small names are attracting attention on the world's stage

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While the big names battle it out for the most headline-grabbing show, Paris Fashion Week is filled with smaller, emerging brands all showcasing their goods to the world's media.

A few of these are already very familiar in the Middle East, as the likes of Rami Al Ali, Azzi & Osta and even Karen Wazen all bring their unique style to the French capital.

Cecil Beaton inspires Rami Al Ali

Inspired by Cecil Beaton, the new collection by Rami Al Ali harks back to old-school glamour. Photo: Rami Al Ali

Originally from Syria, but now based in Dubai, designer Rami Al Ali already has a devoted clientele across the Gulf.

With his unfussy take on old-school glamour, mixing clean lines and with embellished details, his new collection for spring/summer 2023 builds on the same philosophy.

Inspired by British photographer Cecil Beaton, who was famous for his work with the royal family, Al Ali has taken Beaton's love of grandeur and pomp, and defused it into a coolly elegant collection.

Ice cream colours are cut with 1950s couture gusto and the result is charming. A coral pink sequin jumpsuit, for example, has a striking bow on the bodice, while a classic strapless gown in duck egg blue has a simple waistband of soft pink. Discreet beadwork radiates out from that waistline.

Azzi & Osta reach for nostalgia

Azzi & Osta tailored jacket in a dazzling pink, decorated with diamonte drops, for spring/summer 2023. Sarah Maisey / The National

Another name on show in Paris is the Lebanese duo Azzi & Osta, which also do occasionwear.

For spring/summer 2023, the inspiration comes from the concept of "anemoia", a phrase, coined by author John Koenig, that is defined as nostalgia for a time you've never known. It has a strong palette of shocking pink and black that softens into pale green and lilacs.

Here the young designers look back to the 1980s, 1970s and beyond, mixing early Le Smoking elements with punkish detailing.

A women's tuxedo, for example, carries a huge satin bow with tiny covered buttons, while a tailored jacket is decorated with drops of diamante. Always with colour and cut-outs at the forefront — both are house signatures — here a strapless, ruched mini dress in peachy-pink is finished with a deep magenta waistband, while a cut-away dress in pistachio green has a sequinned underskirt in glossy chartreuse.

Marzook goes eco-friendly

A 'Fan' clutch by Lebanese-Kuwaiti brand Marzook. Each bag takes more than 100 hours to apply the crystals. Sarah Maisey / The National

The Kuwaiti bag company Marzook is also in town for fashion week. Famous for its upscale clutches, the company is best known for its "Pill" handbag, a lozenge-shaped bag so densely decorated with Swarovski crystals, it takes 1,000 hours to apply them by hand.

This season a new version has been introduced, made from bio-degradable plastic. Entirely unisex, the new, all-black bag can be worn on the shoulder or across the body. The same environmentally conscious plastic has also been used to create a new "Fan" bag, in green.

Karen Wazen brings new shades

New 'Jordan' sunglasses by Karen Wazen, with bubblepink lenses and arms. Sarah Maisey / The National

Karen Wazen, the sunglasses label, is another regional name being showcased in Paris. The brand and its namesake are originally from Lebanon, but have relocated to the UAE.

The whole concept of glasses stems from Wazen's own teenage insecurity, convinced that her eyes were too large. Using sunglasses to hide behind, they eventually became her signature, and finally she decided to launch her own line.

Now, she is in France to unveil a large, square-lensed shape in clear green, while the existing shapes of Devon, Carolyn and Kourt frames all arrive in new colours. There is even a new Jordan frame in bubblegum pink with a pink lens and bright pink arms.

L'Atelier Nawbar cuts new stones

The Hexagon cocktail ring by L'Atelier Nawbar with clear stone, diamonds and coloured stone. Sarah Maisey / The National

Also spotted in Paris is L'Atelier Nawbar, the Lebanese fine jewellery house, as it shows off new arrivals. One of these is to the Fragments line, first conceived in the wake of the port explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020, when the label incorporated shards of glass from the destruction into jewellery.

Now, the idea has been expanded into bracelets and pinky rings, all with the same angular feel. New shades in the ring include green, white and black, all mixed with white diamonds. There are also bracelets in pale, and deep blue enamel.

Another new addition is the Hexagon cocktail ring that is now made with clear stone, onto which a single white diamond is floated. It's finished with diamonds around the edges and coloured stones on the sides.

There are new versions of the brand's pendants-wise, too, including a new one cut from a single piece of black onyx and decorated with a gold moon and stars. As with many of L'Atelier Nawbar's pieces, these are double sided, to allow the customer to choose to suit her mood.

Scroll through the gallery below to see famous faces at Paris Fashion Week day six

Updated: October 07, 2022, 11:00 AM
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