Fashion Forward in UAE: Meet the new designers

Nine new labels will join 12 returnees at the second season of Dubai fashion event

  • Saudi designer Aziz Humaid.Image Credit: Fashion Forward
  • Lebanese/French designer Charbel ZoeImage Credit: Fashion Forward
  • Designers Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea of Taller MarmoImage Credit: Fashion Forward
  • Fatma Gargash of House of FatamImage Credit: Fashion Forward
  • Lamya Gargash of House of FatamImage Credit: Fashion Forward
  • Shaima Gargash of House of FatamImage Credit: Fashion Forward
  • Lubna and Nadia Al Zakwani of EndmageImage Credit: Fashion Forward
  • Emirati designer Madiyah Al SharqiImage Credit: Fashion Forward

As fashion season hots up in the UAE this autumn, the second of Dubai’s very own Fashion Forward (FFWD) event is all set to introduce nine new designers to its roster when it kicks off on October 15.

With the catwalk presentations as its highlight, the four-day event will also feature talks and discussions led by top international names. Attendees include Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) member and designer Nanette Lepore, Ben Malka, the chairman and CEO of iconic American label Halston, Philippe Von Borries, the co-founder of beauty and fashion website Refinery29 and Stefan Siegel, former model and founder of the website Not Just A Label (NJAL).

Heads of leading academic institutions, the London College of Fashion, Domus Academy Fashion School Milan and Parsons The New School for Design in New York, will also take part in panel discussions while celebrated Lebanese designer, Rabih Kayrouz, will return to host a panel along with his Starch Foundation designers, who will show their collections on the runway.

tabloid! introduces you to the nine new labels, which include Emirati, Saudi, Omani and UAE-based designers, who will join 12 returning designers, many of them established names in the UAE fashion scene:

Label: Madiyah Al Sharqi
Established: 2012
Based in: Fujairah
Designer: Madiyah Al Sharqi (23)
Nationality: Emirati
Line: Women’s ready-to-wear

Philosophy: “The Madiyah Al Sharqi client is feminine and romantic yet daring and edgy; my collections are always aimed at women who aren’t afraid to take risks.”

Why FFWD: “Because it is great to finally see a regional platform for emerging designers.”

Look out for: “Feminine silhouettes with a twist in proportions in fresh palette.”

Label: House of Fatam a.k.a. HOF
Established: 2009
Based in: Dubai
Designers: Lamya (30), Shaima (29) and Fatma (26) Gargash
Nationality: Emirati
Line: Women’s ready-to-wear

Philosophy: “Always remember to wear your clothes with confidence and don’t be afraid to make every piece your own.”

Why FFWD: “Exciting opportunity to showcase our creative vision to a larger audience. As emerging Middle Eastern designers, we want to share our views on fashion and style with the rest of the world. We want our women to have as much fun with clothes and the pieces they own as we do. It is a chance to introduce who we are and what we are about to the fashion world. Who knows what other great opportunities come our way through this. It is exciting and overwhelming at the same time.”

Look out for: “We love velvet so obviously that was quite evident in our collection, but we also have used a lot of embroidered chiffon, brocade and raw silk. We are sticking to some of our classic signature designs like our reversible robes and jackets; this is and will always be our staple look.” 

Label: Charbel Zoé Couture
Established: 2012
Based in: Paris and Kuwait
Designer: Charbel Zoé (27)
Nationality: Lebanese/French
Line: Womenswear

Philosophy: “Being innovative by taking fashion to a whole new level. Making any women wearing Charbel Zoé Couture feel like she is the only woman.”

Why FFWD: “I’m looking forward to showcasing my collection in such a fresh platform in Dubai.”

Look out for: “This season was inspired by beautiful tropical fish and flowers. To create beautiful colours and interesting silhouettes. This show is a must-see of the season.” 

Label: Endemage
Established: 2010
Based in : Dubai
Designers: Lubna (26) and Nadia Al Zakwani (34)
Nationality: Omani
Line: Women’s ready-to-wear

Philosophy: “I design for the modern independent woman, a strong and confident figure that still maintains her elegance and femininity through her clothes.”

Why FFWD: “It’s a great platform for regional designers and one of the most talked about fashion events in town.”

Look out for: “A great blend of ready-to-wear outfits with intricate embroidery and carefully draped gowns.” 

Label: Hema Kaul
Established: 2010
Based in: Dubai
Designer: Hema Kaul (31)
Nationality: Indian
Line: Womenswear

Philosophy: “Clean cut elegant feminine wearable clothing for a modern woman. Feminine glamour, vintage inspired with a modern take.”

Why FFWD: “[It’s] the only structured platform in Dubai for fashion designers to present their collections to the region and also the world. Being the only home platform it is also important we represent UAE on our home ground.”

Look out for: “An elegant feminine line which will fit into their wardrobe with ease, style and grace.” 

Label: Reem Al Kanhal
Established: 2010
Based in: Saudi Arabia
Designer: Reem Al Kanhal
Nationality: Saudi
Line: Womenswear/unisex

Philosophy: “Simple, strong, feminine, clean, always a vibrant mix and match of colours and texture.”

Why FFWD: “It’s a platform for true development of the region’s growing industry.”

Look out for: “Signature Reem Al Kanhal, with a touch of serenity.”

Label: Aziz Humaid
Established: 2011
Based in: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Designer: Aziz Humaid (26)
Nationality: Saudi
Line: Women’s ready-to-wear

Philosophy: “Stay minimal. Perfect the construction. Love the materials. Respect the craft.”

Why FFWD: “As a designer, I’m interested in moving forward, to elevate and revolutionise the present moment. FFWD is all that, it’s a movement, which makes it the perfect platform to introduce my brand and showcase my collection.”

Look out for: “A minimal aesthetic crafted for the contemporary women.” 

Labels: Gisellablu and Aurora Wild
Established: 2012
Based in: UAE, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia
Designer: Sacha Plumbridge (40)
Nationality: Australian
Line: Womenswear

Philosophy: “As Oscar Wilde said ‘One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art’.”

Why FFWD: For Gisellablu and Aurora Wild, two UAE based fashion brands, FFWD is a great platform that not only raises our profile but also serves as a great tool for our experienced team to contribute to the event’s ultimate goal of driving forward the fashion industry in the region.

“We believe that FFWD Season Two is a great opportunity for us to showcase our talent. We aim for our brand to be viewed as ‘one to watch’, constantly evolving and developing and we feel attached to Dubai’s aspirations to become a global fashion hub.”

Look out for: “Featuring party wear alongside key pieces that transform from day into evening wear, the collection plays on the conservative, demure design elements, juxtaposed with provocative curve fitting details, working to accentuate all the best features of the female form.

“With a focus on evening glamour wear, Gisellanoir collection, the premium range offered by the brand, offers luxurious fabrics and bespoke quality featuring hand embellished occasion dresses with sequin, stud and Swarovski crystal details, and silk based fabrics such as that utilised in the signature Italian jumpsuit. Vintage shapes are a highlight of the range appealing to the sophisticated style setter, looking for bespoke tailored classics. 

Label: Taller Marmo
Established: 2013
Based in: Dubai
Designers: Riccardo Audisio (21) and Yago Goicoechea (21)
Nationalities: Audisio is Italian and Goicoechea is Argentinian
Line: Women’s ready-to-wear

Philosophy: “A bridge between European elegance and Middle Eastern charm. Inspiration drawn from the conversation between the nostalgia of the past and the contemporary culture.”

Why FFWD: “Because it is a consciously-designed platform for brands based in the GCC.”

Look out for: “A collection focused on cocktail and evening wear for a very self-confident, elegant woman.”