Fashion Forward Dubai was back in full force for its 7th season, the first one to entirely take place at d3, Dubai's freshly inaugurated design district. By introducing another offering of fashion shows, presentations, and designer showcases, Forward Dubai (FFWD), continues to put the Middle East's established and emerging fashion talents on the international map, helping them to not only set roots in the region, but also to make their first steps abroad. Discover our favorite designer picks of FFWD's Fall 2016 collections in Dubai and see their latest runway shows.
Hussein Bazaza is not only a talented womenswear designer, but was also born under a lucky star: Bazaza is the winner of the inaugural edition of the 2015 Style.com/Arabia – DDFC fashion prize. In fact, the young Lebanese designer brings a much needed new experimental perspective to Middle Eastern flavored evening gowns – the A-line and mermaid dresses, as well as the sumptuous ball gowns – as he learned from the best, being a junior designer for Elie Saab before launching his first collection in 2012. This time around, the Beirut-born designer offered an intricate and bold take on surface design, introducing innovative textures – think lace patchworks and motif collages, including unicorns – and a somewhat edgier take on feminine tailoring – Bazaza swapped the strass for metallic hues and took seatbelts to strap his outfits.
Former model and entrepreneur Jelena Bin Drai is all about the "chic contemporary." And as such, her Fall 2016 offering at Fashion Forward Dubai was a safe bet – not too edgy, not too precious; women in Dubai and abroad will certainly fall for her sleek take on day and evening wear. Her black & white lace and silk offerings came with subtle hints of primary red and magenta and made for real eye-catchers on the runway. Standout pieces mixed and matched casual and luxurious references and included an all-white outfit that consisted of flared tailored pants worn with a bathrobe-inspired overcoat and a black harem cut jumpsuit with flower embroideries and a feather-light cape.
This season at Fashion Forward, Sotra, the Saudi brand founded by two young entrepreneurs, Maryam Bin Mahfouz and Nouf Hakeem, provided some ladylike yet cheeky and urban outfits on the runway. While shapes and cuts remained demure and basic, Sotra’s designer-duo had a lot of fun experimenting with lush fabrics and embellishments. Playful feminine details included polka-dot reminiscent pearl applications on candy pink-hued long pencil skirts, jumper dresses, and oversized coats, as well as lace inserts and embroideries in dévoré optic on body-con numbers.
Sequins and pearls and strass – oh my! Tunisian designer Fatma Ben Soltane is no newbie to designing glamorous eveningwear. In fact, she excels at it and her hand-embroidered evening numbers have great red-carpet potential. That said, forget about the regular kaftan-inspired shapes or mermaid outfits: Soltana brought her shiny, glittery creations to another level, as her pieces came with sharp, sometimes military-flavored cuts, which thankfully made for more edgy total looks. Our favorite outfit? A bejeweled pair of distressed jeans paired with a pussy bow silk gazar top and a golden sequin jacket with shoulder pads.
Painterly pixels – Egyptian designer Marwa Sayed was literally obsessed with them this season. And to express her pixel-mania, she showcased a Fall 2016 collection at Fashion Forward Dubai that was all about vibrant, geometric surface and graphic design on basic cuts and outfits that came with a high end streetwear appeal. Standout pieces included a drop-shoulder, knee-length sleeveless jacket with a trompe-l’oeil tuxedo detailing featuring Sayed’s eye-popping pixel art, as well as a girly outfit consisting of a sleeveless crepe crop top with handmade fringe beadwork that was paired with a crepe and organza layered mini-skirt.
Furne One, the mastermind behind Amato Couture, is ever everybody’s darling in Dubai. Originally from the Philippines, he has established his womenswear label in the Emirates and is in high demand ever since he opened his first boutique in 2002. In fact, his outlandish yet glamorous take on craftsmanship and eveningwear has an absolute red carpet potential, which is why his many shiny and extravagant lace and silk numbers are regularly spotted on Hollywood’s A-List – think Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Katy Perry, only to mention a few. But what is always striking during an Amato show is Furne’s ability to narrate fashion like a one-of-a-kind story-teller. This time around, he was inspired by “the dark side” in each and every one of us, by all things mystical, and showcased mesmerizing lace numbers that came with voodoo and witchcraft-flavored styling, details, and accessories. And it was bewitching, to say the least.