Now in its eighth season, Dubai Fashion Week showcased the wares of 40 of the region’s top designers at Atlantis last week. It’s a trade-only occasion, which means only insiders can attend, but the event affects all fashion fans in Dubai. Why? Because it both represents and, to a smaller degree, dictates what will soon turn up in our shops.
The globe’s big four Fashion Weeks, Milan, London, New York and Paris, undoubtedly still dominate the industry, yet Dubai Fashion Week represents a unique crossroads of Asian, Middle Eastern and Western fashion. While it’s unlikely to ever challenge or draw the same crowds as its counterparts in London or Paris, Dubai’s event can differentiate itself from the big players by continuing to exploit its niche and make its own mark on fashion.
Amato by Furne One
The Lowdown: Filipino designer Furne One is like the Alexander McQueen of Dubai – his pieces are theatrical, well tailored and 100 per cent extravagance. Undoubtedly the most well-known designer to come out of Dubai, love them or hate them, you can’t deny that his works are pieces of art.
The collection: ‘My collection is a study in intricate detailing. The silhouettes are what I’d like to call “quirkified” classics embellished with Swarovski crystals, elaborate beadwork and embroidery, appliqués and hand-painted images. The colours, ranging from eggshell whites, creams and ivories to rusty bronze, golden tans and pearly greys, are muted, elegant, feminine and rich. They are timeless shades that evoke Queen Elizabeth I and other royal ladies in history who inspired the collection. There’s also a little bit of old Hollywood glam thrown in for good measure.’
Price range: Prices are available on request (in the fashion world, that usually means pretty expensive).
Available at: Amato Couture, Shop 224, Al Hana Centre, Satwa (04 398 8586).
Meher & Riddhima
The Lowdown: Meher Mirchandani and Riddhima Whabi have been best friends since childhood, and grew up in Dubai surrounded by Meher’s family garment business. Their designs are recognisable for the unabashed use of rich, bold colours, cord motifs and flowing tailoring.
The collection: ‘Our spring/summer ’11 collection was inspired by [pioneering female pilot] Amelia Earhart, whose vision and spirit are reflected in the Meher & Riddhima woman – a woman who takes chances, believes in herself and stands out in a crowd. We’ve tried to get that same spirit across through our bold colours, playful detailing and aeroplane motif, which was designed by the children of Al Noor special needs centre.’
Price range: Dhs825-Dhs6,000.
Lowdown: Emirati designer Lamya started crafting clothes after becoming frustrated that she couldn’t find an abaya that was ‘the one’. Her Queen of Spades label draws inspiration from a different era and place with every collection, from ’60s style and vintage Hollywood to the Ottoman Empire.
The collection: ‘My new collection, Hanami, is inspired by (and named after) the cherry-blossom festival of Japan. I’ve often found myself dabbling with the styles of the elegant kimono – there’s little that compares to the feel of Asian silks. My latest collection breathes life into my abayas with hues of sky blue, floral pink, bamboo brown, leafy green, lemon, yellow, nude and peach. It’s colourful and fresh, like the whiff of new spring.’
Price range: From Dhs3,900.
Available at: Galeries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9933).
Lowdown: Widely considered India’s strongest designer, Malhotra began his career as a stylist on Bollywood sets. His clothes are loved by so many Indian actors (Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan, to name but a few) and he’s responsible for the costumes in many high-profile films (including Reese Witherspoon’s outfits in Vanity Fair).
The collection: Malhotra’s show closed Dubai Fashion Week this year: the 40 creations he unveiled were true to his home country of India, boasting rich texture, colour and design.
Price RAnge: From Dhs5,000.
Available at: Studio 8, Jumeirah Beach Road, opposite Mercato (04 344 3934).
Emerging Talent featuring Sachin Gada, Susan Jacob, Niteesh Singh Chauhan and ET Max
The Lowdown: This show was open to the public and showcased six new designers, giving them the chance to mingle with buyers and industry insiders. We were surprised at how sophisticated many of the designs were – we’d rate them over some of the other shows.
Available at: Most of these designers’ wares aren’t in our stores yet, but after being featured in this year’s event, we don’t think it’ll be long before they appear on the shelves.
The inside view
Fashion PR Guru Louise Alves gives her view of this year’s event
‘I was anxious at the start of the eighth Dubai Fashion Week. Speculations on the credibility of this event have been voiced in the past, as well as concerns about what appearing in the show can do to a designer‘s reputation.
‘Yet the size of the audiences showed promise – DFW’s bursting crowds were desperate to get a glimpse. The shows were put together perfectly and the designers certainly didn’t disappoint with their collections. The highlights? Too many to mention, but we were treated to better-known designers such as Furne One and Manish Malhotra, as well as confident collections from newer designers Dar Al Waad, Saher Dia and Meher & Riddhima.
‘Technically, DFW seems to have run smoothly, but I still think the event has the wrong aim. DFW should not be attempting to become the next Paris or Milan, but rather to become credible locally first. Was it a success? It all depends on whether the correct press and buyers were in attendance, and whether the talent will be snapped up soon, or passed over. Watch this space.’
Sachin Gada on his collectION: ‘Prune Petals spring/summer ’11 is inspired by nature’s flowers and layers.’
Price range: Sachin Gada’s pieces cost from Dhs500-Dhs2,000. See www.sachingada.com.