A definitive list of the fresh and forward-thinking local and global fashion designers who are on our radar this season. By Hafsa Lodi and Panna Munyal
Based in: Dubai Best known for: Easy-to-wear, nomadic-inspired attire with extravagant touches Available at: S*uce boutiques across the UAE and online at www.bedouinstudios.com
For her spring/summer 2017 presentation at Fashion Forward, Bedouin designer Andraya Farrag dressed her models in white Adidas trainers, with peach ribbon laces wrapped around the ankles. Juxtaposed with the sorbet-coloured palette of her draped ankle-length dresses and separates, the Central Saint Martins graduate reconfirmed that she has her finger firmly on the pulse of voguish street style. Her designs are unique, combining asymmetrical cuts with ruffles, lace, sheer fabrics and textured trims, but maintain a simple, elegant aura. Basic striped prints and ordinary eyelet and satin materials are reworked with an immaculate attention to detail. The new-season pieces are sure to appeal to jet-setters seeking out versatile garments, and the ones from Bedouin can take them from a seaside brunch to an upbeat a er-party.
2 ARWA AL BANAWI
Based in: Dubai Best known for: Tailored suit separates in spirited colours and prints Available at: S*uce boutiques across the UAE
The lifestyle blogger, who grew up between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, moved to Dubai in 2012. Here, she simultaneously pursued her two main interests – a career in banking and design courses at the London College of Fashion. The former paved the way for the launch of her eponymous label in 2015, when Al Banawi decided to move into designing full-time, in a bid to create womenswear that’s both stylish and professional. From double-breasted suit-influenced jackets and graphic prints to tapered trousers and floral kick-flares, Al Banawi displays an aesthetic that effectively combines her three greatest inspirations: colourful street art, classic Audrey Hepburn and androgynous silhouettes. For spring/summer 2017, expect an eclectic mix of elements, including popsicle and rainbow prints, formal Bermuda shorts and robestyle blazers, ideal for the wardrobe of the working woman who likes to have some fun with her style.
Based in: Dubai Best known for: Upscale modest-wear that takes its cues from culture and architecture Available at: Symphony boutique in The Dubai Mall and online at www.bysymphony.com
Not purely an abaya, nor quite a trench coat, a design by French-Algerian Faiza Bouguessa is versatile, functional and very much in demand. One of her first abayas was actually worn as a shirt dress by Beyoncé. While many regional designers regularly attempt to give the shape and silhouette of the abaya a contemporary makeover, very few do it as well as Bouguessa – a brand that’s at the forefront of the movement to globalise sophisticated, stylish and modest apparel. Season a er season, her designs revamp the traditional garment to give it an entirely new look. Her spring/summer 2017 collection showcases minimalist elegance in a range of so linen garments, ideal for the region’s warm summers, and equally appropriate for travels abroad. Contrasting lapels, stark black piping and detachable waist belts complete with woven pouches give the label’s latest pieces an innovative edge.
Based in: Paris Best known for: Logo-emblazoned urban-athletic streetwear Available at: Harvey Nichols - Dubai
Demna Gvasalia helms this cult design collective that’s gone from zero to warp speed since its first autumn 2014 collection. Gvasalia, who has worked at Louis Vuitton and Maison Margiela, doubles as Balenciaga’s creative director. Displaying a knack for athleisure, Vetements is known for its part-sporty, part-streetwear aesthetic. The label has collaborated with brands such as Reebok, Comme des Garçons, Manolo Blahnik, Juicy Couture and Levi’s to create its wearable hoodies, T-shirts, trench coats, sock boots, denim skirts and jeans, o en emblazoned with bold wordplay. For spring/summer 2017, silhouettes are unfitted, and many are stamped with the logo of Vetements’s most popular collaborator: Champion. Expect to find the characteristic blue and red C emblem on the back of hooded sweatshirts or along the slides of drawstring joggers. Celebrity fans include Selena Gomez, Chiara Ferragni, Miroslava Duma and Kanye West, who jokingly tweeted: “I’m going to steal Demna from Balenciaga.” He’ll have to get in line.
Based in: New York Best known for: Deconstructed shirts, shirt dresses and off-the-shoulder blouses Available at: Harvey Nichols - Dubai
Designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia worked at Oscar de la Renta as senior designer and studio director before a twoyear break, but they have since rejoined as co-creative directors – even while holding fast to the label they launched in the interim: Monse. Last month, the newbie brand and 50-yearold fashion house shared the same exalted platform during New York Fashion Week, with a joint runway show. Monse is also emerging as a red-carpet power player, popular with Amal Clooney, Margot Robbie and Thandie Newton. The label started off specialising in deconstructed shirt designs, but its latest offerings include asymmetric and tuxedo dresses, half-and-half striped pyjama blouses and jumpsuits with detachable sleeves. The spring/summer 2017 collection is a playground for those who find joy in eclectic layering.
6 MAISON RABIH KAYROUZ
Based in: Paris Best known for: An artful approach to tailored, feminine staples
Available at: Symphony boutique in The Dubai Mall and online at www.bysyymphony.com
Evolution has always been key to Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz’s creative sensibilities. He went from his native Douma to the ateliers of Dior and Chanel in Paris, returning to Beirut to create evening gowns for the Middle East’s most discerning clients for a decade. He launched his maison in Paris in 2008, and then swapped couture for prêt-à-porter in 2012. But in true Kayrouz style, and in a bid to make the former more accessible, Maison Rabih Kayrouz integrates haute couture codes into its modern ready-to-wear lines. Cases in point: side vents with architectural cuts added to jackets and trench coats; cascades of raffia in voluminous dresses; and hand-stitched but playful embroidery on taffeta gowns. From switching cities to swapping models for dancers on his spring/summer 2017 runway, Kayrouz constantly broadens the appeal of his delectable, wearable and accessible creations, which this season include ladylike bow adornments.
Based in: Paris Best known for: Theatrical separates that experiment with volume and proportion Available at: Boutique 1 stores across the UAE
If you look closely, you’ll notice subtle Japanese influences in the collections of Simon Porte Jacquemus, who launched his label in 2009 a er his mother passed away, and used her maiden name for the name of his brand. The designer attended fashion school in Paris from the age of 18, and worked at the Comme des Garçons boutique in Paris, which helped shape his Orient-inspired flair. Combine that with a generous dose of asymmetry, volume and an overall larger-than-life approach, and you’ve got the makings of a fashion designer who’s truly ahead of the game. With its on-trend shirting techniques that feature tie-up laces, uneven necklines, mismatched lapels and exceptionally poofy shoulders, Jacquemus has already built up a cult street style and celebrity following that includes the likes of Rihanna and Alexa Chung. For spring/summer 2017, the brand’s range of ready-towear offerings comprises pinstripes, corset bodices, off-shoulder necklines and ultrawide trousers with upturned cuffs.
8 SARA BATTAGLIA
Based in: Milan Best known for: Rainbow-hued handbags and, now, complementing ready-to-wear Available at: www.net-a-porter.com
There’s a flagrant retro attitude to the designs produced by Sara Battaglia, who has just made her foray into clothing, six years a er launching her handbag line. The oversized leather floral appliqués, inverted rainbow stripes and exuberant drama encapsulated in her bags are easily translated into readyto-wear. Envision this: a pleated palazzo and dress ensemble, cra ed purely from mustard pleats. Or: a bell-bottoms and blazer set, allwhite, save for a striped lapel. The Italian designer, who targets risk-takers with her handbags – which are o en decked with fringes and bold colours – presents a slightly more streamlined vision with her debut clothing line. But while it may seem like an understated adaptation of her famous leather goods, the garments are statement-makers in their own right.