Be­fore Fash­ion For­ward Dubai, Sarah Maisey speaks to new, es­tab­lished and vet­eran de­sign­ers about what to ex­pect from this week’s an­nual see-now shop-now shows

The National - News - - ARTS&LIFESTYLE -

Wed­nes­day marks the long-awaited re­turn of Fash­ion For­ward Dubai (FFWD), the four-day sar­to­rial spec­ta­cle fea­tur­ing home-grown fash­ion, jew­ellery and ac­ces­sories brands, and in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tions.

Founded in 2013 as a GCCwide plat­form for emerg­ing de­sign­ers, FFWD was orig­i­nally an in­dus­try-only event, but now all shows and events are open to the gen­eral pub­lic. Last year, the team also re­alised the shift­ing land­scape of re­tail de­manded a more fluid and sus­tain­able ap­proach, so they went back to the draw­ing board to re­struc­ture from the ground up. Now, after a self-im­posed hia­tus, FFWD is back and will run from Wed­nes­day to Satur­day.

Part of that re­think is that any­one with even a pass­ing in­ter­est in fash­ion can pop along – free of cost – and catch the lat­est col­lec­tions hit­ting the run­way. An­other new idea is the in­tro­duc­tion of Shop The Show, an app that al­lows the au­di­ence to buy di­rect from the run­way, even be­fore a show ends. Pow­ered by Zbooni, the app prom­ises to be easy to use, fast and se­cure. In ad­di­tion, The Gar­den pop-up will of­fer hand­bags and jew­ellery from In­dia-in­spired Shvet, Omni’s and Margherita, among oth­ers.

Talks and panel dis­cus­sions are an­other pop­u­lar FFWD fea­ture. This year, the founders have roped in Lau­do­mia Pucci of Emilio Pucci, beauty en­tre­pre­neur Joelle Mar­dinian and sus­tain­abil­ity ad­vo­cate Shahd Al She­hail, who will ex­plore top­ics such as how to pitch a brand to buy­ers and how to make fash­ion truly sus­tain­able.

Fi­nally, as al­ways, vis­i­tors can ex­pect a broad mix of la­bels on show – 21 this year – from well-es­tab­lished UAE de­sign­ers Michael Cinco and Amato, vet­eran sup­port­ers such as Arwa Al Banawi, Hessa Falasi, Roni Helou and Mrs Keepa, and a dozen new­bies, in­clud­ing Hass Idriss, Hazem Kais, Mai­son Farah Wali, Thym and Tanya Skaff.

“FFWD has proven it­self to be a great plat­form for emerg­ing de­sign­ers, and now they are tak­ing it a step fur­ther by adding a com­mer­cial as­pect,” says French-Egyp­tian de­signer Mar­ian Yeya, founder of Mrs Keepa. The la­bel will re­turn to FFWD to de­liver a soft cou­ture col­lec­tion en­ti­tled Les Sil­hou­ettes, which plays on Ja­panese el­e­ments and ex­ag­ger­ated out­lines. “Mrs Keepa has been around for 14 years, so I am not look­ing for aware­ness any­more; I am look­ing to grow my clien­tele, and FFWD has proved that they have a good win­dow to all of the GCC and the Mid­dle East. The new busi­ness-to-con­sumer con­cept has got our in­ter­est. As I have my work­shop here, we are able to de­liver Shop the Show or­ders as soon as I get them, so for me it’s more of a com­mer­cial test. Hope­fully it is go­ing to be a great suc­cess,” says Yeya.

We speak to three other de­sign­ers about op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­pec­ta­tions.

An out­fit from Mrs Keepa for Fash­ion For­ward Dubai 2019

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