Naz Cannon Combining masculine tailoring and tough embellishments with feminine fabrics, young Emirati designer Nasser Mohammad Al Midfa is one to watch. The 26-year-old from Sharjah launched fierce menswear line Naz Cannon after a two-month stint on a design course in Japan, and his designs have definitely been influenced by his trip to the avant-garde fashion capital of the world. His daring pieces have an androgynous feel – you’ll find spiked detailing, studded jackets, zips, draping and power shoulders – and the vibe is part ’80s, part Lady Gaga. Dhs300 to Dhs1,200.
KAGE Launched in Dubai in 2009, KAGE is a modern womenswear line with a retro edge. Taking credit for the creations are childhood friends Arwa Abdelhadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh. Originally from Beirut, the duo studied abroad, with Arwa attending Central Saint Martins in London and Basma studying in Beirut, Boston and Paris, before the two reunited in Dubai to launch the brand. Teaming vintage-inspired touches and luxe fabrics with modern cuts, the label’s autumn/winter ’11 campaign is Twiggy-inspired, and is modelled by curly-haired 17-year-old Palestinian twins Haya and Sama Abu Khadra, both of whom are based in Dubai. Dhs400 to Dhs2,100.
Reemami We can’t get enough of young designer Reem Al Banna’s playful fashion brand. She contrasts pops of bold colour with textured fabrics where they’re least expected (the nude tailored ankle-skimmers with white lace overlay give off a montage effect), to create ladylike pieces that are edgy yet wearable. Born and raised in the UAE, Reema entered the world of design on the graphics side, but after starting a two-year course at the French Fashion University in Dubai, she decided to launch her own label in 2009, and has already received much acclaim for her pieces. Dhs800 to Dhs4,000.
Mar Mar jewellery Marwa Kharsa, the Egyptian/Turkish designer behind these quirky pieces, launched her first collection at S*uce earlier this month and we’re coveting every single piece. A world away from the chunky styles that featured so heavily over the past few seasons, Kharsa’s designs are intricate, delicate and super-cool. Many of her pieces feature ‘dark art’ such as skulls and guns, and the rock-and-roll vibe offsets the slightness of the 18-carat gold and semi-precious stones. Dhs505 to Dhs3,270.
DAS This high-end line showed at this year’s London Fashion Week and takes its inspiration from traditional Emirati dress, but with quirky details and contemporary twists to really bring the abaya alive. Designed as an outlet for modern Arab women to express themselves while respecting cultural traditions, Emirati sisters Reem and Hind Beljafla incorporate Turkish-style splashes of detailing in their designs, and they often use embellishments to bring shape to billowy silhouettes. Definitely a collector’s item. Dhs2,500 to Dhs7,000.
Reina swimwear Hot off the runway from Miami Fashion Week 2011, this beach-loving brand born in the Middle East received plenty of interest during its debut show overseas, and US buyers in Miami, New York and Texas were quick to snap up the beachwear. Launched in July 2011, Kuwait-born, Dubai-based designer Rana Al Naqeeb’s swimwear embodies the Dubai beach babe (think Nasimi pool parties) – you’ll find nautical-themed styles as well as briefs with gold detailing, and colourful kaftans. We’re told US reality star Kristin Cavallari was recently gifted the brown fringe swimsuit, so keep your eye on those holidaying in Hawaii-style pap pics. Dhs250 to Dhs1,000.
Sugar Vintage Best described as a vintage-inspired line with an Arabian influence, Sugar Vintage is a modern Dubai-based label that combines simple, feminine touches from the ’40s with Arabian Nights-style harem pants, brilliant pops of colour and a generous helping of romantic Parisian-chic detailing. Emirati designer Leila Al Marashi teams baby-doll dresses with electric-blue leggings, and grey marl Ts featuring graphic prints of old Hollywood icons with wide-leg harem pants and embellished waistbands in the style of Aladdin. Dhs460 to Dhs2,805.
Polka Dot Cat This grown-up label, founded by Iraqi designer Rana Jamshed, celebrates style icons from the past, such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Coco Chanel. The autumn/winter 2011 collection features conservative shift dresses with bell skirts and large bows, and vintage-themed workwear such as structured tweed blazers. Look out for the Polka Dot Cat 2012 collection – the campaign will be shot on location in Moscow. From Dhs660.
Meher & Riddhima Drawing creative inspiration from Islamic-style architecture and interiors, childhood friends and Dubai-based Indian designers Meher Mirchandani and Riddhima Whabi have founded a colourful luxury label that never fails to deliver ethnically influenced pieces with a modern twist. The brand has been well received since it was launched in Dubai in 2002, and its bursts of bright colour are intrinsic to the duo’s signature style. We particularly love the intricate belts shaped in the style of Islamic art. Dhs1,000 to Dhs3,500.
Wasta Saudi-born, Dubai-based graphic designer Hani Alireza added ‘fashion designer’ to his list of achievements in 2010 when he launched T-shirt label Wasta, specialising in graphic Ts with Middle Eastern flair. The brand infuses traditional Emirati elements with pop-art-style graphics to deliver eye-catching T-shirts, vinyl wall stickers and art prints. Alireza also created the logo for edgy local concept store The Zoo. Among the cool designs are Ts scrawled in Arabic, while others feature prints of broken Ouds and veiled women. From Dhs221, currently on sale for Dhs166.