Dubai’s fashion events rarely inspire people to call it a serious trade event. But the architects of Fashion Forward, the inaugural four-day event in the city starting April 26 at Madinat Jumeirah, hope to redeem that lost faith.
“It’s about time that this region gets a fashion platform such as this. This is an event which aims to provide a definitive movement to foster growth for designers in the Middle East,” said Bong Guerrero, CEO and creative director of Fashion Forward, at a press conference in Dubai on Tuesday.
With impressive names on its roster, the event, which is a mixture of catwalk presentations and panel discussions, brings to its fold celebrated fashion insiders such as Steven Kolb, the CEO of Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz (a fixture at the bi-annual Paris haute couture fashion shows) and fashion heavyweight Barbara La Monica, a mentor at the famed New York-based Fashion Institute Of Technology (FIT), which has produced names such as Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Carolina Herrera.
Designers participating include some of the UAE’s top-notch and celebrity favourites, including Ayesha Depala, Essa, Furne One and Michael Cinco, who will showcase their collections.
At the unveiling, Guerrero revealed a line-up of industry discussions, including one by Kolb on how to nurture a fashion trade body for the Middle East and La Monica’s talk on what buyers look for in different markets. Lebanon’s pride Kayrouz will hold a discussion on how to nurture this region’s emerging talent and how to retain its identity in fashion.
“There’s a lot of promising designers out there. This is our first season and it will be a true reflection of our Middle Eastern landscape. We are not calling it a fashion week because it’s not one. It’s a movement to round up everyone in fashion and get together. This is a fashion platform which will represent our region,” said Guerrero.
A total of 35 buyers have confirmed their attendance, he added.
As many as 18 shows, panel discussions about fashion and pop-stores with merchandise from local designers will make up Fashion Forward. Kuwait’s Tahir Sultan and Qatari label Toujouri will also present their collections.
“It’s one step at a time. Right now, we want to rigorously tell our buyers that we will have such a show consistently, every time. When we mature, they will take us into consideration in their budgeting,” said Guerrero.
For more on the event, go to fashionforward.ae.