It is not uncommon to see royalty, political figures and other celebrities perched in the front row of fashion shows, but rarely do they also moonlight as the designer.
Playing both roles in Dubai this weekend was Medni Kadyrova, the wife of the president of Chechnya, who showed her new collection of haute couture pieces before a star-studded crowd including the Lebanese singer Najwa Karam and the Dubai-based designer Furne One.
Thirty of Kadyrova's gowns took to the catwalk under the label of Firdaws Fashion House, which, founded three years ago, scooped Grand Prix and Vice Grand Prix for Couturier of the Year 2011 in Moscow.
"The name Firdaws originates from the Arabic language and means the supreme gardens of paradise," says Kadyrova. "For us, it means the utmost beauty that we always strive to have and to be reflected by our collections. Dubai is one of the most important fashion hubs in the world and the region, so showcasing our collection here will help us attract clients from the different cultures and backgrounds who visit the city all year round."
On display were conservative, elegant creations in pastel shades made from European silks and chiffons, hand-embellished with semi-precious stones and beads.
"Designing is my passion and I always work very closely with all the designers, from the very first sketches to putting the final touches on each piece," says Kadyrova. "Zarima Yakayeva and Zaur Mamedov are two of our three main in-house designers - who are very famous in Russia. We also have 10 other designers, with great expertise and a very promising future."
Fifteen months in the making, the show is Firdaws's first outside Russia. While the range has deep-rooted connections with Kadyrova's Islamic faith, it was originally created to fill a void in her native country's fashion market.
"Firdaws was born out of a lack of elegant designs and dresses that were in-line with Islamic traditions and the Chechen culture," she says. "Therefore, we always work on designing dresses that put the beauty of women in value while being conservative and respecting their traditions. All of our designs and motifs are Islamic with a touch of modern haute couture."
As a designer, Kadyrova says she continues to be inspired by the "natural beauty, elegance and modesty" of the Chechen women. She also counts Roberto Cavalli and Zuhair Murad among her favourite style gurus and does not rule out the possibility of future tie-ups with like-minded creatives.
"After recently seeing Walid Atallah's designs, I really like his style," she says of the UAE-based designer who, like his fellow Lebanese designer Murad, attended her show. "I hope to cooperate with him in the near future."
With plans afoot to open her first boutique in Dubai Mall, the mother of six says the support of her family, not least her husband Ramzan Kadyrov as the Chechen head of state, have made it possible for her to realise her fashion ambitions.
"I'm confident that this first show in Dubai is the first step of many more to come in the region," she says.
• To view the prêt-a-porter and couture collections from Firdaws Fashion House, go to www.dm-firdaws.ru
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