A look from Ezra Santos' previous collection.
A look from Ezra Santos' previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

What is Fashion Forward Dubai or FFWD?

FFWD was a bi-annual fashion showcase, featuring catwalk shows by regional designers as well as workshops, exhibitions and talks by renowned experts, that began in 2013. The event, endorsed by the Dubai Design and Fashion Council — the body formed in 2014 to promote Dubai as a global hub for design and fashion — moved to its new home at the Dubai Design District (d3) in 2016 and has been held there ever since. Last year, for its 11th season, FFWD was only held once in October, owing to what organisers said was a “shift in global industry trends” and “to strengthen the programme as well as the roster of designers”. The event returns this month, from October 31 to November 2 at d3.

What’s new this year?

This season, visitors will be able to purchase catwalk looks during and after each of the shows. FFWD has created a ‘shop the show’ opportunity utiliSing technology integrated in the FFWD website. The digital platform will enable real-time sales to be completed via messaging services such as WhatsApp, which will be linked to a secure credit card payment gateway.

How many shows will be held?

There will be a showcase by 21 regional and international designers, spread across catwalk shows and presentations. 12 designers will make their FFWD debut while nine are returning to the event.

What else is happening besides the show?

The d3 Fashion Talks will return this year, with well known personalities including Laudomia Pucci, Deputy Chairman, Image Director, and daughter of Pucci founder Emilio Pucci; beauty icon and entrepreneur Joelle Mardinian; sustainability champion Shahd Al Shehail. There will also be masterclasses in topics such as on digital storytelling, how to pitch your brand to buyers and the power of the celebrity collaborations. The exhibition called The Garden, featuing 20 regional accessories designers will also return for visitors to shop at, from jewellery to handbag brands and ready-to-wear.

Who can attend Fashion Forward Dubai?

FFWD is a free-to-attend public event but pre-registration online is mandatory. Entry into catwalk shows, presentations, talks and industry parties is by invite-only, with some passes made available for those registered.

Meet the designers

Label: Varoin Marwah

Varoin Marwah

Designer: Varoin Marwah

Country of origin: India

A 2017 nominee for the prestigious Woolmark prize, Marwah’s signature style draws from the cosmopolitan arena of its founding ground, Dubai. His creations are often known for their clean lines, careful detailing and contemporary silhouettes. Marwah believes in innovating the classic essence of menswear to provide for a wide spectrum of ensembles. Wearability, durability and quality are the three most important aspects of a Varoin Marwah creation. For his fourth FFWD showcase, Marwah’s ‘A Mystical Shangri-la’ collection will present ensembles that can be worn to that early morning event, brunch or lunch, going all the way to evening wear. Expect to see traditional cuts, along with the use of zipper and button trimmings predominantly with every garment designed to be lightweight and easy to wear in the summer.

Marwah has collaborated with Matte Shoes for this collection, and will complement the classic cuts of the Marwah SS20 collection.

Show: November 1 at 6.30pm.

A look from Varoin Marwah's previous collection.
A look from Varoin Marwah's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Amato

Furne One

Designer: Furne One

Country of origin: Philippines

A regular at FFWD, the designer popularly known as Furne, launched his label in the UAE 2002. Amato means “beloved” in Italian, the result of a partnership between the much-awarded creative designer Furne and textile expert Rashid Ali. From the very first collection, Amato touched a chord with the region’s fashion elite and it’s gone from strength-to-strength since, now seen on some of the world’s biggest stars, from Mariah Carey to Jennifer Lopez, and Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Furne’s will be the closing show of this season’s FFWD.

Show: November 2 at 9.30pm.

A look from Amato's previous collection.
A look from Amato's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Arwa Al Banawi

Arwa Al Banawi

Designer: Arwa Al Banawi

Country of origin: Saudi Arabia

Arwa Al Banawi is a luxury ready-to-wear brand, bridging gaps between high-end fashion and street wear. Like her eponymous label, Al Banawi is a mix of contrasts: born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, she also spent a large part of her childhood between Germany and Switzerland. Her travels abroad instilled a deep love and appreciation for fashion. A former investment banker, she saw a void in the market for womenswear that is both professional and fashion forward for the young business woman on the go. After studying at the London College of Fashion in Dubai, she launched her namesake brand in 2015. Her urban tailored suits and statement tees in Arabic writing have been spotted in the pages of Vogue, The New York Times, Grazia UK, Marie Claire and on street style stars across the world. Al Banawi’s silhouettes are masculine yet feminine. Think tailored suits and sports luxe evening wear.

Show: October 31 at 6.30pm.

A look from Arwa Al Banawi's previous collection.
A look from Arwa Al Banawi's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Ezra

Ezra Santos

Designer: Ezra Santos

Country of origin: Philippines

The Manila-born designer comes full circle as he shares with his compatriots the qualities that make him one of the major proponents in the recognition and advancement of Filipino talents in the international fashion arena. The Dubai-based fashion stalwart is today considered one of the most influential figures in the Middle East and wider Gulf fashion industry. His creations along neo-classic lines come with an edge and have been seen on the who’s who of international celebrities, Arab royalty and wealthy women. A product of Central Saint Martins in London, UK, Santos has more than two decades of hands-on expertise and hard-work tucked under his sleeves.

Show: October 31 at 4pm.

A look from Ezra Santos' previous collection.
A look from Ezra Santos' previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Michael Cinco

Michael Cinco

Designer: Michael Cinco

Country of origin: Philippines

This Dubai-based Filipino designer is best known for his fabulous couture gowns. His innate creativity and masterful techniques have catapulted him to the front ranks of fashion. He has cultivated a dedicated following for his designs, with their detailed juxtapositions of fabric and Swarovski crystals. Cinco’s celebrity clients include everyone from Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears to Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Nicole Scherzinger. He has also designed several costumes for Mila Kunis for the 2015 sci-fi movie ‘Jupiter Ascending’. He likewise enjoys the patronage of international clients from Russia, China, Macau, as well as US and European socialites. Cinco’s work is currently being celebrated at the SCAD Museum of Art — part of the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, US — with an exhibition.

Show: October 31 at 9.30pm.

A look from Michael Cinco's previous collection.
A look from Michael Cinco's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Nadya Dzyak

Nadia Dzyak
Nadia Dzyak Image Credit: Supplied

Designer: Nadya Dzyak

Country of origin: Ukraine

Launched in 2008, Nadya Dzyak’s womenswear pret-a-porter is all about effortless elegance. She says her brand DNA is defined by her use of intricate hand-stitched elements and bespoke sophisticated elements of decor in all her collections.

Show: November 1 at 3pm.

A look from Nadya Dzyak's previous collection.
A look from Nadya Dzyak's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Yousef ALjasmi

Designer: Yousef Al Jasmi

Country of origin: Kuwait

Originally from Kuwait, Al Jasmi is the designer and owner of both Yousef Aljasmi Haute Couture and Yousef ALjasmi Bride. Mesmerised by fashion from an early age, Al Jasmi celebrates the shape and beauty of woman by creating one-off, detailed pieces.

Today, the fashion house of Yousef ALjasmi includes many lines a couture line, bridal wear, casual ready-to-wear designs and accessories.

Show: November 1 at 9.30pm.

A look from Yousef Al Jasmi's previous collection.
A look from Yousef Al Jasmi's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Reemami

Reema Al Banna.

Designer: Reema Al Banna

Country of origin: Palestine

Reema Al Banna enrolled for an architecture major and then decided to change to graphic design. After working for a few years in an advertising agency, she decided to quit her job to pursue her other passion — fashion. With no business plan, no capital and only her drive, Al Banna decided to start her label at 23. Her push came when she submitted her designs to a local “design a dress” competition and won following which Reemami was born. Al Banna first showcased her collection at Sauce boutique in Dubai in 2010, fully funded by her previous monthly salary.

Show: November 2 at 3.30pm.

A look from Reemami's previous collection.
A look from Reemami's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied

Label: Roni Helou

Roni Helou

Designer: Roni Helou

Country of origin: Lebanon

Helou’s Beirut-born label first had his collections showcased at FFWD in 2016 as part of the Starch Foundation’s showcase. Helou was awarded the Boghossian Foundation Fashion Prize in 2017, which offered a residency at Villa Empain in Brussels. A finalist at the 2019 edition of the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) in London, Helou had the opportunity to exhibit his FW19 collection at London Fashion Week in February. Sustainability, free education and animal rights are at the heart of the brand and Helou works to uphold these values in everything he does, from sampling to production and everything in between. The Roni Helou brand has been featured in prominent international publications, such as The New York Times, Vogue US, British Vogue, Vogue Italia, WWD and The Business of Fashion.

Show: October 31 at 3pm.

A look from Roni Helou's previous collection.
A look from Roni Helou's previous collection. Image Credit: Supplied


The details

Fashion Forward runs from October 31 to November 2 at the Dubai Design District. Entry into catwalk shows and presentations are invite-only but some seats will be offered to those registered online.