Entering its sixth season, Fashion Forward (FFWD), the definitive fashion platform in the Middle East, continues to showcase the best couture, ready-to-wear and accessories labels based in the region, or of Middle Eastern origin. Season Six presents the most diverse line-up of brands to date, with 33 labels showing their Spring/Summer ’16 collections to fashion professionals and the wider fashion community at Madinat Jumeirah this 22nd-24th October, and in private appointments to buyers and media on the 25thOctober during the “FFWD Day at D3”.
The designers showing this season are:
AMATO BY FURNE ONE – The much-loved label returns to FFWD for the sixth consecutive season. Known for his natural ability to craft extravagant and artistic designs, Dubai-based Furne One has rapidly worked his way up the fashion ladder, and is celebrated both regionally and internationally for his impressive couture creations. New for this season, One debuts his first ready to wear collection.
AMBER FEROZ – Indian designer Feroz launched his eponymous brand in 2004 and made his FFWD debut in April 2015, at Season Five. His Dubai-based label produces collections specialising in women’s eveningwear and daywear including Abayas.
AMIRA HAROON – Having shown at FFWD Seasons One and Two in 2013, Amira Haroon returns to show this October. Of Pakistani origins, but having grown up in the Middle East, Haroon designs for a woman who has a Middle Eastern soul with a trans-regional outlook and attitude, a confident woman. Her designs are for women who appreciate and know their fabric and their cuts.
ARWA AL BANAWI – Arwa Al Banawi is a smart casual brand for women & men. The brand focuses on redefining the classic look of the suit by experimenting with fresh prints and bold colours. Having made her FFWD debut last season, Al Banawi returns to FFWD this October.
BEDOUIN – Designed and developed by Central Saint Martins’ graduate Andraya Farrag, BEDOUIN is a contemporary womenswear label that aspires to create flattering, easy-to-wear collections with a confident, spontaneous style. The minimalistic clean design remains flattering and adaptable, allowing BEDOUIN to become the go-to brand in every woman’s wardrobe. Season Six will be the label’s debut at FFWD.
BEHNOODE – Founded in Napoli, Italy, in 2005, Behnoode is the brainchild of a passionate young Iranian-born designer – Behnood Javaherpour. The label produces simple, elegant and unique men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, seamlessly crafted using the finest fabrics. The label prides itself on innovative ideas and technical accomplishments, which have enabled BEHNOODE to expand over the past few years and enter the global fashion market. This October marks the label’s first showcase at FFWD.
BOUGUESSA – Showing for the second time at FFWD, French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa will present her latest collection of contemporary, luxury Abayas. Drawing inspiration from art, architecture and global culture, BOUGUESSA combines straight-lined designs with elegant sophistication. A combination of high quality fibres and elaborate craftsmanship—each design exudes a spirit of true lightness creating a new and fresh identity of the Abaya.
DANY TABET – Lebanese designer Dany Tabet opened the doors to his atelier in 2007. Tabet celebrates the shape and beauty of woman by creating one off, detailed pieces which ooze elegance so the woman feels beautiful from the inside to the out. After making his debut at FFWD Season Four, Tabet returns to the runway this October.
DIMA AYAD – Having showcased at Seasons One, Two, Four and Five, Dubai-based label DIMA AYAD returns to the FFWD runways this October. Lebanese designer Ayad launched her unique brand of eveningwear in 2010 and strives to provide women with ‘fashion that makes you feel good’ – stylish, sophisticated and stunning dresses with a ‘wear-and-go’ philosophy that accentuate and celebrate their bodies, no matter what shape or size.
ELIO ABOU FAYSSAL – After studying at EDSMOD Beirut, Lebanese designer Abou Fayssal launched his eponymous label in 2011. The brand’s vision is to fulfil the wishful fantasy of every woman with couture pieces that sculpt the body into a slender and gorgeous look bringing out the peaks of femininity. This October will be the label’s FFWD debut.
ENDEMAGE – Omani sisters, Nadia and Lubna have shown at FFWD in Seasons Two and Four and return this October with their ultra-feminine dresses and billowy evening gowns with Arabic-infused styles. The sisters draw inspiration from traditional Omani designs and they created Endemage, meaning “the merging of two”, in 2010.
FATEMA FARDAN – Making her FFWD debut, Fatema Al Fardan was born in the UAE in 1987, and educated in London at the American Intercontinental University (AIU), where she graduated with a First Degree Honours in Fashion Design and Marketing. Fatema Fardan Designs is a Ready to Wear contemporary Womenswear label catering to modern women producing long dresses, kaftans, blouses, jackets, trousers, knitwear, skirts, and accessories.
HOUSE OF NOMAD – Having made the FFWD debut at Season Five, HOUSE OF NOMAD returns to the runways this October. The innovative fashion brand is based in Dubai and co-founded by two creative individuals; Ahmed El-Sayed & Saleh Al-Banna. The label is based on the premise of a Nomad: a wanderer with no geographic boundaries, living in perpetual motion from one temporary dwelling to another. A prominent feature throughout all their collections is the use of Arabic calligraphy, which the designers have used to proudly assert their cultural DNA.
HUSSEIN BAZAZA – Lebanese designer Hussein Bazaza first showed at FFWD Season One as part of The Starch Foundation, and in April 2015 he showed his first solo collection at Season Five. Bazaza, also a Teaching Professor of Fashion Design at ESMOD Beirut, is known for his intricate pieces where every cut reflects a different story, a personal emotion that creates a one of a kind experience – fashion with a soul.
JELENA BIN DRAI – Serbian-born Jelena J. Bin Drai, a former model, and now a reputed fashion designer in the UAE, presents her couture collection for the first time at FFWD this October. Her years of experience in the fashion industry, and worldwide travel have inspired beautiful bespoke gowns that transcend both East and Western cultures.
LAMA JOUNI – The eponymous label of the Paris-based, Lebanese designer produces high-end ready-to-wear. Jouni moved to Paris in 2007 to pursue her designing career, and launched her own label in 2013. Her pieces have discernible and inspiring cultural referents, in outlines or details, and are made to be worn by independent and passionate women. Season Six is her second consecutive season showing at FFWD.
MASHAEL ALRAJHI – Saudi-designer Mashael Al Rajhi makes her FFWD debut, showing her label MASHAEL ALRAJHI – a high casual fashion line for both men and women. The label aims to redefine the contemporary notion of style with a sense of avant-garde sophistication.
MADIYAH AL SHARQI – Returning for her fourth season at FFWD, Emirati designer Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi offers effortless eveningwear with an updated edge, evolving the traditional vision of elegance. Al Sharqi is the daughter of the Ruler of Fujairah, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi.
MICHAEL CINCO – Having wowed in Seasons One and Four with his beautiful couture creations, Cinco returns for FFWD Season Six. The Dubai-based designer is best known for his fabulous gowns, demonstrating innate creativity and masterful technique and has amassed an army of international celebrity clientele.
NASIBA HAFIZ – Making her FFWD debut, Nasiba is considered one of Saudi Arabia’s most successful and coveted designers of womenswear, available at outlets throughout the Kingdom. Collections reflect a love of colour, with design elements often inspired by vintage fabrics and styles.
ORKALIA – A couture house and ready-to-wear brand based in Dubai, ORKALIA’s aesthetic represents timeless elegance infused with modern sophistication. The brainchild of American-born designer Orchid Ganji, ORKALIA prides itself with being at the forefront of neo-couture, combining traditional techniques with modern aesthetics and applications. ORKALIA makes its FFWD debut this October.
SABA TARK – Young Iraqi designer, Tark, specialises in textile and haute couture clothing. Inspired by culture and art, her designs are a combination of unique modern silhouettes and experimental handcraft textile. Tark has been nominated for the Frans Molenaar Prize and is currently exhibiting at the Centraal Museum Utrecht. October’s edition will be her first FFWD Season.
SAID MAHROUF – Moroccan-born, Said Mahrouf studied fashion design both in Holland and New York. He presented his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1999 to international acclaim; and in 2000, he started his own performance company in Amsterdam. Mahrouf’s love of costume design, artistry and partiality to feminine elegance defines his collections. Mahrouf will show for the third time at FFWD this October.
STARCH FOUNDATION – Under the mentorship of Rabih Kayrouz, the Starch Foundation has presented their chosen designers at each edition of FFWD, to great acclaim. The designers this season are: Sako Dersahagian with his label ARDASHES; NOUR NAJEM presents her eponymous label; Joe Arida showcases his brand LA TERRE EST FOLLE; Starch alumni Mira Hayek shows her label MIRA HAYEK; and accessories designer Yasmine Jaber with her brand EXOCET.
TALLER MARMO – Showing for their fifth consecutive season at FFWD, Taller Marmo are Dubai-based design duo Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea. The label merges European elegance with Middle Eastern charm and uses fine Italian tailoring with a minimal approach, fused with Arabic traditions. Taller Marmo were recently awarded with the 2015 Regional Woolmark Prize for India, Pakistan and the Middle East.
YOUSEF AL-JASMI – Originally from Kuwait, owner of Yousef Al-Jasmi Haute Couture, Al-Jasmi began designing at the age of 17. In 2008, Al-Jasmi opened his first boutique in Kuwait to provide his clientele with an unrivalled array of hand-stitched designs and intricately detailed creations and has since amassed an army of international celebrity clients. This October will be the label’s second season showing at FFWD.
ZENA PRESLEY – Making her FFWD debut, Zena Presley is a Syrian-born, Dubai-based designer who creates ready-to-wear womenswear. Through collaborations with international artists, and commissioning patterns and prints, her signature style has been established. The Zena Presley customer has a passion for the beauty and cultural underling of art, loves to take risks and uses fashion to express their individuality.
ZAID FAROUKI – Showing at FFWD for the first time, Jordanian designer Zaid Farouki’s fashion house attempts to blur the lines between fashion and art with its detailed womenswear collections. Each piece is handmade and abides by couture techniques, embroidery, and finishing. Furthermore all prints are hand painted onto the fabric by Farouki himself; transforming the wearer into a walking piece of art.
ZAROON BY ZAREENA – Having previously showcased her elegant couture collections at FFWD, Zareena debuts her first ever ready-to-wear collection at FFWD Season Six. The label is simply called “Zaroon by Zareena” after the designer’s nickname. The launch of the label’s initial collection holds an appropriate flashback to her birth years in the 1960s, a decade that reflects the spirit of what the label stands for.