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Fashion Forward Season 3 returns to Dubai

The twice-yearly fashion week-style event is back with both new and returning designers

Image Credit: FFWD
Fashion Forward (FFWD) is the UAE's very own fashion week-style event.

Time to click your heels and pout that pout. Season 3 of Fashion Forward (FFWD), the UAE’s twice-yearly fashion week-style event, is back.

To be held from April 10 to 13 at the Madinat Jumeirah, organisers have announced seven new labels who will join 11 returning designers for the daily showcases. Designers making their FFWD debut include the London-based Saudi designer Lamia Asudari, who will bring her Asudari Studio; Lebanese designer Jean Louis Sabaji; brothers Zac, Zubair and Talha Timol, behind the bespoke bowties brand Velsvoir; Emirati designer Zareena Yousuf, known for her label Zareena; and Reem and Hind Beljafla, the Emirati sisters behind Das.

Returning designers include Filipino pride Furne One, who’s designed for many Hollywood A-listers; Lebanese designer Zayan Ghandour, co-founder of the S*uce boutique chain whow ill bring her Zayan The Label; Dubai-based designer duo Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea, behind the womenswear label Taller Marmo; Filipino designer Ezra Santos; and Indian designer Essa.

“Going into Season Three, we were keen to maintain our momentum and draw from what Seasons One and Two have taught us,” said Bong Guerrero, Founder and CEO of Fashion Forward. “Broadening our reach even further across the region has always been our goal, and whilst we will continue to do so, season after season, our main focus must always be on showcasing the best and brightest design talent.”

But it’s not just going to be catwalk shows at the event, supporting by Dubai Design District (d3). The Garden, the retail space for accessory designers to showcase their collections to buyers and guests throughout the event, will also be back at the event. Talks and discussions led by top international names will also be held with names of attendees to be announced soon.

*Fashion Forward Season Three will take place at The Madinat Jumeirah from April 10-13. Registration for tickets will be online soon through the website

List of designers:

The designers and labels making their Fashion Forward debut for Season Three are:

Asudari Studio

Originally from Saudi Arabia, London based Lamia Asudari launched her label in 2007. Lamia’s passion lies in her development and execution of intricate, hand crafted prints.


Emirati sisters Reem & Hind Beljafla launched DAS in 2008 with a vision to create a ‘must-have’ black dress combining the most up-to-date fashions with the historical aspects and respectful nature of an abaya. Since then the label has seen great regional and international acclaim, having presented at London Fashion Week and featured in global press for their take on the traditional Middle Eastern dress.

Jean Louis Sabaji

Following in the footsteps of his fashion-designer father, Lebanese couturier Sabaji has always had a passion for design. He studied in Milan at Domus Academy before launching his own couture line. Sabaji’s designs are influenced heavily by nature, and his pieces are conceptual and daring.

House of Ronald

Of Lebanese descent, London born Ronald Abdala trained in Los Angeles, Beirut and London before being appointed senior designer for Maison Rabih Kayrouz in 2004. Shortly after this he launched his own line of womenswear. Abdala’s designs focus closely on the human form, using bold and architectural cuts.

Said Mahrouf

Born in Morocco, Said Mahrouf and his family moved to Amsterdam when he was nine years old. He studied fashion design both in Holland and New York. He presented his first pret-a-porter collection in 1999 to international acclaim and in 2000 he started his own performance company in Amsterdam. Mahrouf’s love of costume design, artistry and partiality to feminine elegance defines his collections.


Launched by brothers Zac, Zubair and Talha Timol in 2012, Velsvoir began by creating bespoke bowties and have since expanded to a range of men’s and women’s accessories and more recently a menswear line. Velsvoir focuses on classic tailoring whilst offering quirky and interesting accents to showcase their signature style.


It was when studying Business Management in India, that UAE National Zareena Yousef first discovered what luxurious fabric combinations and rich embroidery could do to complement and enhance a woman’s beauty. This inspired her to begin her worldwide search for the exquisite textures, adornments and needlework that would one day become the trademark of her internationally acclaimed gowns.

Returning to the runways this April to FFWD are:

Amato by Furne One

The much-loved designer returns to FFWD for his third season. Known for his ability to craft extravagant and artistic designs, Dubai-based One has rapidly worked his way up the fashion ladder, and is celebrated both regionally and internationally for his impressive couture creations.

Bashar Assaf

Having showcased at Seasons One and Two under Rabih Kayrouz’s mentorship and The Starch Foundation, Season Three sees Assaf present solo on the FFWD runway. Bashar Assaf is a Lebanese fashion designer currently based in Beirut. The signature behind his label is its ability to challenge the female body with brave geometry complimented with sensibility to material and craftsmanship.


Of Indian origin, but of Arab sensibilities, Essa’s designs consistently try to weave together the traditional and the modern by relying on materials and prints that have iconic cuts and are universally flattering, creating extraordinary, colourful and contemporary ready-to-wear pieces. Essa returns this April for his third season at FFWD.


For well over a decade, Dubai-based Filipino designer Ezra Santos has been producing extravagant couture, establishing his brand as synonymous to elegance and beauty. Santos has showcased at FFWD since Season One.


Returning for their third FFWD Season are childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh. They created their label in 2009, offering contemporary womenswear. Kage mixes prints, textures and fabrics in their stylish ready-to-wear pieces.

Rami Kadi

Former Starch foundation graduate Rami Kadi returns for his second season at FFWD. The Lebanese-American designer’s creations follow his signature style of elegance and femininity, mixing textures and materials with form-fitting lines in his work.

Starch Foundation

Under the mentorship of Rabih Kayrouz, the Starch Foundation has presented their chosen designers at each edition of FFWD to great acclaim. The designers this season are Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek.

Tahir Sultan

Half Kuwaiti, half-Indian designer Tahir Sultan launched his own label in 2008. In 2012 he became the first Kuwaiti designer to show at London Fashion Week. Season Three will be his third FFWD presentation. Sultan’s luxurious pieces pay attention to detail, are determinedly glamorous yet conservative, allowing women to feel empowered and sexy without necessarily.

Taller Marmo

The Dubai-based womenswear brand was founded in 2013 by designers Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea. The brand was born in Italy to be based in Dubai: A bridge between the European elegance and the Middle Eastern charm. Their inspiration is drawn from the conversation between the nostalgia of the past and the contemporary culture. Their collections merge minimalistic Italian tailoring with Arabic traditions.

The Emperor 1688

The Golkar brothers return to FFWD for their third season, offering their stand-out luxury menswear. The British- Iranian trio set up the label in 2007 and are based in Dubai. Their collections combine exquisite tailoring, with regal prints and classic cuts made of the finest European fabrics.

Zayan The Label

Dubai-based Lebanese designer Zayan Ghandour will present for her third time at FFWD this April. Her brand, Zayan the Label, debuted at Paris Fashion Week in 2011 to wide acclaim. Zayan’s collections offer girly, contemporary luxury ready-to-wear designs using a mixture of fabrics, colours and innovative silhouettes.