WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU COVET
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
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