By Lubna Hamdan
Event will showcase the best couture and ready-to-wear brands that are based in the region or are of Middle Eastern origin
Fashion Forward (FFWD), the Middle East’s fashion platform, will return for its fifth season in Dubai from April 10 to 13.
The event, taking place at Madinet Jumeirah and D3, will showcase the best couture and ready-to-wear brands that are based in the region or are of Middle Eastern origin.
“We can expect to see some fantastic collections at FFWD season five both on and off the runway,” said founder and CEO of Fashion Forward, Bong Guerrero.
“Launching our presentation space for this season will give a different dynamic and allows designers to choose the best way to showcase their collections,” he added.
Season five will host 25 brands and new additions of catwalk shows, retail space, and presentations.
FFWD’s retail space, The Garden, will have 40 regional accessories designers and a selection of FFWD’s apparel brands available for guests.
As for the designers showing couture collections this season, they are:
AMATO - Owner and founder of the brand is Dubai-based Furne One, who is known both regionally and internationally for his couture creations. He has dressed the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Heidi Klum.
EZRA - Dubai-based Filipino designer Ezra Santos has been producing couture for over a decade. He will return to FFWD this year after having showcased at seasons one, two, and three.
JEAN LOUIS SABAJI - Lebanese couturier Sabaji has been featured at FFWD since season three. For season five, he will return with a collection that is heavily influenced by the strength and beauty of Mother Nature.
ZAREENA - The Zareen label belongs to Emirati designer Zareena Yousif. The UAE-based designer has showcased at FFWD since season three. She is known for using different fabric combinations and rich embroidery in her designs.
The line-up for the designers showing ready-to-wear collections at season five are:
AIISHA RAMADAN - This brand is for Lebanese designer Aiisha Ramadan. It combines traditional with modern aspects of design. She has dressed multiple celebrities like Charlize Theron and Arab TV presenter Raya Abirached.
AMBER FEROZ - Indian designer Feroz launched his Dubai-based label in 2004. It specialises in women’s eveningwear, daywear, and Abayas. Season Five will be his first time to participate at FFWD.
BOUGOUESSA - Also showing for the first time at FFWD is French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa. She will present her latest collection of luxury abayas, which took inspiration from art, architecture and global culture.
DANEH - Saudi label DANEH is the third entry to showcase at FFWD for the first time. Daheh founder and designer Daneh Buahmad creates basic pieces with an urban twist.
DIMA AYAD - Lebanese designer Ayad launched this eveningwear brand in 2010. Her goal was to provide women with “fashion that makes you feel good.” She showcased at seasons one, two, and four previously.
HASHE - Dubai-based Iranian designer Ava Hashemi creates structured high-end ready-to-wear clothing and accessory lines for women. Season five will be Hashe’s second season at FFWD after debuting last October.
HUSSEIN BAZAZA - Lebanese designer Hussein Bazaza is also a teaching Professor of Fashion Design at ESMOD Fashion University in Beirut. His designs are known as “fashion with a soul.”
HOUSE OF NOMAD - House of Nomad is another Dubai-based brand. It is co-founded by Ahmed El Sayed and Saleh Al Banna, and is based on the idea of a Nomad: a wanderer with no geographic boundaries. They’re known for using Arabic calligraphy as a prominent feature in their designs. They’ve said to use it to “proudly assert their cultural DNA.”
LAMA JOUNI - This Paris-based, Lebanese designer produces high-end ready-to-wear. She moved to Paris in 2007 to pursue her designing career, before launching her own brand in 2013. Season five will be the first time she debuts at FFWD.
MADIYAH AL SHARQI - Emirati designer Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi returns for her third season at FFWD. She offers eveningwear with a modern edge. Sharqi is the daughter of the Ruler of Fujairah, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi.
MARAL - Iranian designer Maral Yazaloo launched her label MARAL in Paris, before taking it to Rome and then basing it in India. She creates pieces that combine Middle Eastern, Asian and the Western style. This season is her second time to showcase at FFWD.
MAUZAN - Emirati founder and designer Rafia Helal Bin Drai launched MAUZAN in 1990. She specialises in custom-made abayas and sheilas. Season five will be her first time at FFWD.
REEMAMI – This brand belongs to UAE national Reema Al Banna, whose designs are “electric, bold, and playful.” They’re known for containing unconventional cuts and details. Al Banna will debut for the first time at FFWD this April.
Designers for the Starch Foundation:
Under the mentorship of Rabih Kayrouz, the designers for the foundation this season are:
Sarkis Dersahagian with his brand Ardashes; Nour Najem with her label; Joe Arida will show his brand La Terre Est Folle; and accessories designer Yasmine Jaber will present her label Exocet.
SAID MAHROU - Moroccan-born Said Mahrouf studied fashion design in New York and Holland. He presented his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1999 and received international acclaim. In 2000, he decided to start his own performance company in Amsterdam. Mahrouf’s love of costume design and artistry is inspiration to his collections. He will showcase for the second time at FFWD this season.
TALLER MARMO presented by Gabs - This brand was founded by Dubai-based Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea. They fuse European style with Arabic traditions and Italian tailoring. This season will be their fourth consecutive one at FFWD. This time, they are presented by Gabs handbags.
THE EMPEROR 1688 - British-Iranian brothers Babak Golkar, Haman Golkar, and Farhan Golkar founded this brand in 2007. Based in Dubai, the brand specializes in luxury men’s and womenswear. It will showcase for the fifth consecutive season at FFWD this April.
THREE FIFTY NINE - This Egyptian label aims at creating “wearable art collections” that are inspired by art pieces and patterns. It uses crisp colors and edgy graphic prints. Season five is its first debut at FFWD.
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