On October 20-24, a gaggle of regional and international designers took to the catwalk at Dubai’s Trade Centre Arena for the spring/summer 2012 Dubai Fashion Week. Some designers were even showing their collections for the first time in Dubai (Aussie brand Easton Pearson launched its new range on the opening night).
In past years, the event has struggled to live up to its peers in London and Paris, but this season it got a makeover. Respected Australian Fashion Week founder Simon Lock (who was brought in to direct the event) put his professional touch on everything from the set to the seating, and the results were impressive. The week was a polished, world-class event, and one that other cities should watch out for. Here we take a look at some of the stand-out shows.
Mumbai Se presents Meher & Riddhima Inspired by Latin beauties such as Salma Hayek, Penélope Cruz and Frida Kahlo (minus the monobrow), Dubai-based label Meher & Riddhima’s spring/summer 2012 collection had a flamenco feel and was awash with pretty pastels in lemon, plum and lavender. The set was scattered with potted pink hydrangeas and even housed a live pianist. Available at Mumbai Se, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0626)
Shrekanth This Dubai-based Indian designer’s Evolution 2012 collection had a dark vibe, with DNA-inspired shift dresses, tunics covered in red-blood-cell prints, and tie-dye-style playsuits. Models wore their hair in tribal plaits. Available at S*uce, various locations including Village Mall (04 344 7270)
Roopa Pemmaraju Inspired by aboriginal art from Australia, Melbourne-based Indian designer Roopa Pemmarjaru’s unisex resortwear collection was a highlight of DFW. With the help of Australian aboriginal model Samantha Harris, she presented a collection of lush kaftans, jumpsuits, sari-style dresses, subtle draping, and harem pants. Available at www.roopapemmaraju.com
From the front row…
Jenny Hewett gives us the lowdown on the Fashion Week vibe
‘The moment I clocked the blacked-out walls of the pre-show room at Trade Centre Arena, I could tell that Dubai Fashion Week had been given a facelift. And we’re talking the good kind – this season, DFW was nipped and tucked in all the right places. The reception was home to a fashion café, fully-functional media centre and an exclusive tent for VIPs.
‘For those who hate waiting, the pre-show room housed choice pieces from each designer’s collection, enabling guests to peruse the wares before the show. I was lucky to see one of the quieter shows that proved to be a highlight of the event, and really should have attracted more attention. Roopa Pemmaraju’s ode to indigenous art was a spectacle for the senses: she sent models (some of them barefoot) sashaying down the runway to the sound of didgeridoos, against a backdrop of images of aboriginal children. The beach-luxe resort collection features tribal-inspired fringe necklaces, harem pants, jumpsuits, folk-like detailing and floaty kaftans in a palette of earthy colours with bursts of vibrant blue and violet.
‘All in all, the event was a resounding success, and I hope Dubai can keep up the good work at the next Fashion Week in 2012.’
The designers’ viewpoint
We hear from two exciting designers who are making a splash in both Dubai and internationally
The DFW veteran: Shrekanth Shrekanth Yeddula, 28, Indian, based in Dubai
How long has your brand been running? Two years. This is my fifth season showing at Dubai Fashion Week.
Can you describe the brand? It’s very modern, architectural and geometric. It’s experimental in the patterns and draping.
Where did you draw inspiration for you new collection? The new collection is called Evolution 2012. It draws on the idea that 2012 is the end of the world and is inspired by Charles Darwin’s theory on the evolution of species. So I’ve used prints such as jaguars, masks, DNA and neurons and microscopic cells.
Who are your biggest influences? Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen. When I was at school, Balenciaga taught me how to be disciplined and how you need to direct yourself to produce fashion in a modern format. Alexander McQueen inspired me to be experimental – that’s how he used to work.
What’s the most important thing you take away from each show? Change. I like to change every season and make it something different. I don’t want to repeat what I’ve done in previous seasons.
Where do you see your brand in five years? I’d like to be present at more international fashion weeks, and selling more to other regions such as Australia, Tokyo, Europe and America.
The DFW newcomer: Roopa Pemmaraju Roopa Pemmaraju, 31, Indian, based in Melbourne
Tell us about yourself. I’m based in Melbourne and this year was my second season showing at Australia Fashion Week. This year I was sent an invitation to be a part of the Dubai shows.
Can you describe your brand? My brand is dedicated to resortwear. I do a lot of long dresses and kaftans – the label is feminine, with a quirky feel. I have another partner based in India and we work together. For each collection I bring in a different kind of print; this season for Dubai I used indigenous prints from Australia, and Indian fabrics. We always use hand-woven fabrics.
Where did you draw inspiration for your new collection? To produce this collection, I worked with three aboriginal artists from the Jilamara Art & Crafts Association in the Northern Territory in Australia. Meeting the artists really inspired us.
So the artists created the prints for you? Yes. There are three main artists I’ve chosen to work with. One of the established artists is almost 80 years old, and his artwork is totally different. The clothes build on their stories.
Have the artists seen their work on the garments? We did sketches for them and showed them what the collection will look like. Once we’ve done the fashion shows, we’ll show them images of the models wearing the pieces. We also give out royalties for every artist, so for every piece sold we’ll be giving them a commission.
How many stores stock your label? We’re stocked in 22 stores worldwide, in America, Europe and Asia, and now we’re looking to be stocked in Dubai as well.
The next Dubai Fashion Week is scheduled to take place in March or April 2012. For more information, see www.dfw.ae