Bong Guerrero, founder of Fashion Forward, at GN Studio PHOTO:ARSHAD ALI /GULFNEWS ARCHIVE Image Credit:

“Fashion is our new petrol of this region,” said Fashion Forward (FFWD) founder Bong Guerrero.

It’s a grand declaration, but he may have a point.

The heat has barely cooled off after supermodels Naomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkowa sat in the front row of a fashion show in The Dubai Mall last week, and we now have another high-profile fashion event, which begins on October 15.

The bi-annual extravaganza, which debuted in April, is back for its second edition at Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah, in Dubai, and brings more than 20 regional designers. Nine new designers will mingle with veterans during the four-day event, which also includes workshops and talks by internationally renowned designers and fashion insiders.

“It will be a mixed bag of talented designers from our region and beyond,” said Guerrero in an interview with tabloid!. “Our attempt is to elevate the standard set from our first Fashion Forward. We have a good chunk of returning designers and some interesting new ones.”

Almost as a proof that FFWD won’t fall prey to the allegation that it’s just a big glitzy party, Guerrero and his team have a list of confirmed buyers attending the event and fashion experts such as Simon Collins, the dean of Parsons The New School for Design spearheading panel discussions.

“We have over 50 buyers who have committed to come. Buyers for groups like Chalhoub and Al Futtaim will be there… This is not some fly-by-night fashion exercise. We are committed to the cause of fortifying fashion talent and get every sector of fashion involved,” said Guerrero.

His aim is to bolster the fashion in the Middle East. So it should come as no surprise that designers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman will rub shoulders with Emirati designers as well as the city’s established names including Filipinos Furne One and Ezra Santos, whose client list include Hollywood A-listers. Emirati designer Madiyah Al Sharqi, Hema Kaul from India and Saudi Arabia’s Reem Al Kanhal and Aziz Humaid are some of the names who will make their debut this season.

“It feels great to be a part of Fashion Forward because it’s the only structured format in Dubai for fashion designers. I loved the way they put together the [event] last season. The catwalks, the shows and its overall quality were in par with the ones seen in Europe. Such events give you visibility which is so important,” said the Dubai-based Kaul, who will showcase her collection inspired by 1960s fashion on Wednesday.

One, the toast of last season, agrees, saying FFWD is an ideal platform for young and established designers. “I believe in their vision and their goals.” he said.


Don’t miss it

FFWD runs from October 15 to 18 at the Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Entry to the catwalk shows is for trade and by prior registration only. A limited number of general admission tickets to the venue, including access to The Garden exhibition, Fashion Cafes and selected talks are available for Dh50 per person per day. For tickets and to register, go to fashionforward.ae.