The Five Middle Eastern Labels That Stood Out At Fashion Forward Dubai 2019by | November 08, 2019
Fashion Forward returned to Dubai after a two-year hiatus and we were in attendance to witness its comeback. One of the most sought-after fashion events in Dubai, this is where the spotlight is focussed on regional designers and local talent. And, with a fast-growing industry, the region is churning out plenty of noteworthy designers that have gone on to make it big internationally.
Fashion Forward is not just about designer showcases. It is as much about dialogue and conversation about fashion in the region, including pressing concerns such as sustainability. We scoured the runway to round-up five local designers that stood out at Fashion Foward 2019 for their unparalleled aesthetics and for their ethical ethos.
Spearheaded by French-Egyptian designer Marian Yeya, the designer’s journey began with her personal Instagram page (@mrskeepa) that went on to gain 100k followers who appreciated her unique sense of style, following which, she started her label Mrs. Keepa in 2016.
Since then, the label has gone on to become a fashion favourite for its contemporary and exaggerated silhouettes. Think ruffled layers and XL pouffy sleeves that are tailored to target the Instagram audience and their aesthetic. Inspired by the designer’s travels and her style icons, Yeya’s brand exudes femininity but is still sassy.
Staying true to her signature aesthetic, her collection ‘Les Silhouettes’ was chockfull with exaggerated silhouettes. The designer interpreted African prints and a hint of Japanese culture that was translated in the way of vibrant patterns and a kimono-esque white dress with a black obi belt. Plaid was ubiquitous, and we see the matching plaid co-ords being snagged by influencers, stat. There was also a sprinkle of fun and colourful polka dots seen on dresses and feminine blouses. We can totally see Alyssa Coscarelli endorsing this label.
One of the exciting names to have emerged from the Middle East and to have made it big internationally, Reemami was born in 2010, started by designer Reema Al Banna. Al Banna’s designs are celebrated for their architectural silhouettes, experimental construction, and hand-illustrated graphics that are a result of her background as a graphic designer. Better yet, this Dubai-based label takes a sustainable approach by producing their designs in small batches to avoid creating waste. It also refrains from using leather, fur or feathers.
Born in the UAE, the designer’s creations sit in the wardrobes of bold and stylish women such as Queen Rania and Bella Hadid. This season the designer presented a collection that encapsulated all her signature elements from quirky prints to flowy silhouettes. Inspired by wake surfing, details such as detachable and transformable sleeves, collars and cuffs stood out, as did the ‘Surf Elements’ headband that accessorised most looks. The Victorian-like ‘Wipeout’ shirt was a standout along with the easy and feminine ‘Longboard’ dress.
Arwa Al Banawi
Born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the designer’s eponymous RTW label is bridging the gap between luxury fashion and streetwear. Al Banawi’s statement tees with Arabic script and tailored suits have become the statement of professional and fashion-forward women in the region. They have also been featured in several publications along with being spotted on street style stars across the globe.
Androgynous yet feminine, her collection this season featured boxy blazers with strong shoulders, both cropped and oversized, along with streetwear staples such as logo tees and utilitarian jackets. This was interspersed with diaphanous fabrics and flowy silhouettes for a feminine flair. The collection had a Jacquemus S/S2020 flavour to it.
Born in Lebanon, the designer’s eponymous label finds its footing in Beirut. Sustainability is at the core of the label, and the designer ensures ethical practice right from his first sketch to the production of the garment. Addressing the fact that the fashion industry creates an excessive amount of waste, Helou sources fabrics from deadstock at vintage markets: each fabric weaving its own beautiful story. The subject hits close to home for the designer, who has taken a stance via his designs against the ongoing garbage crisis in Lebanon.
This season, the designer’s collection showcased sharp separates in the way of XL blazers, oversized coats, boyfriend shirts, and deconstructed pieces. Interspersed with flowy silhouettes, the line-up was elegant yet casual.
One amongst the many labels championing sustainability in the region, Saudi designer Aljawharah (Sadeem) Alshehail is the name behind the label Sadeem. Designed for the confident, elegant, and sophisticated woman, the timeless designs are crafted using non-toxic fabrics that are sustainably sourced. A core value of the label is to create designs that have a positive impact on society and the environment.
The designer’s latest collection Abwaab or Doors is inspired by her land, with designs that are a contemporary take on classic motifs found in the native folklore, architecture, and jewellery. Rendered in black, white, and red, the colours reflect upon the designer’s roots. The line-up comprised of relaxed silhouettes with geometric details for everyday wear like tracksuits as well as glamorous dresses.
Featured Image: Reemami