Out here in the UAE we are either fashion influencers or ones who follow trends laid out by local fashionistas. The Arab Fashion Week (AFW) which starts today has the fashion enthusiast in us excited. Founded and organised by the world’s largest non-profit fashion council, Arab Fashion Council (AFC), in London, the AFW is held in Dubai twice a year. The eighth edition of the show runs from today to April 28 and will be held at 1422 in City Walk. Some of the names showcasing at the event include Amato Couture, Aiisha Ramadan, Rami Kadi, Blumarine, Baravia, Sophie Couture, Hiba Younis and Asmaraa.
With designers showcasing their See-Now; Bye-Now Spring Summer 2019 and Fall/Winter 2019/20 collection, everything is up for grabs at the AFW.
Arab Fashion has moved on from the stereotypical sight of women fully clad from head to toe in black. The UAE has come a long way in its growth and so has its fashion scene. Modest fashion is no longer a trend that is exclusive to the region; its reach is truly international today.
One designer who has changed the playing field out here is Aiisha Ramadan with her sleek and modest fashion pieces. The Lebanese fashion designer started her couture clothing line in the UAE in 2007. Celebrities such as Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez, Aishwarya Rai and Ariana Grande have sported the label, which in turn has garnered international popularity for its elegant, yet sensual look. In a tete-a-tete with City Times, Ramadan lets us in on what to expect from her show that is on today.
How would you describe your collection?
We are launching our first collection inspired by fashion based on existing samples that have been given a new life in line with our story for this season as well as our most popular cuts made from scratch. It is colourful and suits women with different tastes and backgrounds. Unlike our previous collections, this has very few embroidered pieces as the focus is on cleaner looks.
What inspired the collection?
The theme of this collection is ‘Change,’ referring to the evolution that we all go through from the moment we ask questions like: What am I doing here? What’s my purpose in life?
It’s very personal to me in its value as for the past five years I’ve dedicated a vital part of my time talking to people and sharing knowledge. When the questions got deeper, I decided to take my knowledge further by becoming a certified ‘Transurfing’ instructor and am currently learning more about energy. That translated into my designs by primarily taking existing designs and samples and taking them through a process of change. Each piece has its own story from our past collections and have been given a new life in line with self-empowerment.
If you had to put a celebrity face to your brand, who would it be and why?
From the Middle East, we chose to work with Egyptian singer Sandy as the face of the collection as she represents exactly the story of the collection. She has always been known as the Teen Idol for Egyptians and is now ready to go through her own evolution. Internationally, Cate Blanchett is my idol.
What part has Dubai played in your growth/identity as a fashion designer?
Dubai has been the spice to my designs. It has been my home away from home. The city has helped define me as a strong woman, loving people from all walks of life, because that is essentially what Dubai does. It’s a home for all.
Aiisha Ramadan’s showcase will be at 7pm on Thursday.
Also known as Carrie Kwok, the designer who hails from Hong Kong has been showcasing her collections at the AFW since last year. With experience in a myriad of roles in the fashion industry, Carrie launched her own label CAR|2IE in 2016.
How would you define your fashion identity?
We encourage our customers to dress up all the time, no matter if it’s for the daily working day or a evening party after work. The aim of our designs is for independent women to wear what they like with confidence.
What can one expect from your show?
We are good at designing with tulle fabric and are happy to bring our own aesthetic to the Middle East market.
If you had to put a celebrity face to your brand aesthetic who would it be and why?
Olivia Palermo is always our muse, we love her attitude, her tough and elegant image. We believe that our customers also have those elements.
What part has Dubai played in your growth as a fashion designer?
Being an international label is our brand objective. And Dubai is one of the best fashion cities in the Arab world. By participating in the Fashion Week in Dubai, we can have more opportunities to explore our brand in the Middle East market.
Carrie Kwok will hold her showcase at 7.30pm today.
For the full list of designers attending the Arab Fashion Week and their show timings, visit www.arabfashionweek.org