Indira Kurbanova. Image Credit:

With coffee and Italian fashion as inspirations, the Arab Fashion Council has partnered with coffee brand Lavazza, to support aspiring fashion designers in the Middle East.

The Lavazza design competition will conclude with one lucky winner be flown to Milan for a three-week fashion course at Istituto Marangoni, one of the world’s most prestigious fashion and design institutes, and showcase their designs at the Arab Fashion Week in December in Dubai.

Organisers said they received a little over 1,000 entries, and seven were shortlisted to be part of the competition.

The selected contestants had four days to complete a specified design and their creations were presented to a panel of judges who chose the winning look.

The judging panel included Jacob Abrian, the CEO of the Arab Fashion Council; Souha Abbas, the editor-in-chief of L’Officiel magazine; Rad Hourani, a Jordanian-Canadian designer and photographer; and Karim Merhi, the marketing manager at Lavazza.

Before the winner is announced this week, Gulf News tabloid! met some of contestants and asked them what inspired their designs.


Hamamie Asfaw, Ethiopia

Asfaw, 38, was inspired by “mother nature” and her Ethiopian roots. She chose shades of brown and black, while featuring the actual design of a leather coffee bean in the dress. Coming from the world’s richest coffee-making countries, Asfaw was inspired by her country’s love for coffee, which fueled her passion in this competition.

Although Hamamie had no previous background in fashion design she has been sketching for a long time. “It opened many opportunities for me and that’s when I started to have passion for fashion,” she said.


Ekaterina Megomedova, Russia

This 28-year-old designer studied Fashion Business and Design at the Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design in London. She previously worked as a costume designer for five different movies and as stylist on The X Factor in her country. Six months ago, Megomedova set up her own fashion brand, Pink Powder Studio. Her look for the competition was inspired by the Lavazza colours and cups. She recreated the look by structuring the signature Lavazza cup upside down and implementing that into the design of the dress.

“It was a very nice experience because they made the competition both fun and challenging, especially with time.” she said.


Indira Kurbanova, Uzbekistan

Kurbanova, 21, is currently a student of Fashion Design at the American University of the Emirates. Kubanova was previously an intern at the Arab Fashion Council where she found out about the competition. Her inspiration came from the expression of a Middle Eastern and Arab oriental look with a touch of Italian. The dress consists of two parts, the abaya and the dress including the Lavazza colours.

“I couldn’t even explain how excited I was when I got shortlisted. I am still a student at university so this is a great opportunity for me especially for my future because it is a big step,” she said.


Ishtar Al Shaybani, Iraq

Al Shaybani was born and raised in Dubai and currently holds two degrees, one in Fine Arts and the other in Fashion Design. She said fashion began as a hobby for her. “I wasn’t even thinking of applying for the competition but something just kept telling me to do it, and I wasn’t even expecting a call back saying I’m shortlisted,” the 34-year-old Esmod Dubai graduate said.

Al Shaybani’s inspiration behind the design was not as straightforward and literal as her competitors. She took a different approach by incorporating how women feel when they drink coffee and that is what the dress resembled. “I went for something playful, luxurious and I thought of coffee Lavazza as an inspiration and not as a object,” she said.



- Aliyaa Al Faour is a 25 year-old Jordanian student at the American University of the Emirates.

- Rezvaneh Sffari is a 26-year-old Iranian fashion designer.

- Endija Vitola is a 24-year-old Latvian designer.


— Joan Muwahed is an intern at Gulf News