Dubai Fashion Week: Fall/Winter 2011

The ninth edition of Dubai Fashion Week (DFW) came to an end this past Saturday. DFW Fall/Winter 2011 showcased 50 international and regional designers across 35 shows.The five-day event garnered a unique schedule this year, with interesting additions like Saudi brand Lomar Thobe and Lebanese designer Paula K’s fashion philosophy, “Metamorphsis.” Established icons, HSY and the grand finale designer, Rajesh Pratap Singh, cemented DFW’s ability to still attract Asia’s premiere designers, while Filipino couture icons, Michael Cinco and Furne One, chose not to fill their usual slots at DFW.  The schedule included DFW regulars, like abaya labels, Hanayen and Nabrman, while the presence of emerging talents surged this year.
DFW owner and producer, Capital Marketing, made an interesting decision to hold the fashion event at Dubai’s World Trade Center — the contrast of the “tent” atmosphere of international fashion weeks and last year’s extravaganza. Dubai is known for its glitz and glamour, especially for its fashion events, yet ironically this season possessed barely any, removing any fluff that may distract from the quality of the fashion presented and consequently, transforming this year’s fashion week to resemble more of a trade show.It seemed that this was Capital Marketing’s goal — and not a bad decision either, as Dubai has yet to garner a credible and established fashion scene worthy of the status of its international counterparts. The talent is very much present, yet Dubai’s main deficit is in its audience. Cliquish PR representatives and people behind the nepotistic media of Dubai don’t constitute a proper fashion audience and thus, while the trade show atmosphere maybe seen as a retreat towards the ultimate goal of placing Dubai as a legitimate fashion capital, it simply wasn’t. Instead, this move can be seen as a strategic decision to slowly progress its way up into a premiere fashion event with active buyers, fashion experts and the inclusion of international media coverage, and yes, even bloggers.
“Our vision at Capital Marketing is to develop DFW into one of the preeminent global fashion trade events,” stated Capital Marketing’s Chairman, Manoj Bhojwani.Unfortunately, designers seemed to have mixed reviews, with some praising the strength of international buyers and others voicing their frustration at the lack of industry insiders. It appeared that while attendance was weaker than previous seasons, the veteran designers, like Dubai-based Shrekahnth and “The Future of Couture” award winner at Alaroma Altamoda, Rome Couture Fashion Week, Gaurav Gupta, were more than capable of selling themselves.
BEST OVERALL COLLECTIONS
Shrekahnth
Shrekahnth’s collection, inspired by Filippo Marinetti’s interpretation of futurism, was one of the most innovative collections to be presented at DFW. As the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, appropriately set the mood, Shrekahnth presented a cohesive 24-piece collection of mod silhouettes and futuristic cuts, including jumpsuits with astronomical patterns followed by structured long dresses in satin and Habotai (China silk). The show closed with eight designs covered in “movable prints” made possible with a painstaking technique in which the designer manipulated 3D prints onto the two-dimensional canvas of silk. The audience was requested by a robotic male voice to wear their 3D glasses as creations came out with abstract headpieces designed in collaboration with the milliner, Nazgul Nejmi. Shrekahnth’s main feat was his ability to make these prints work both with and without the glasses.
Rajesh Pratap Singh
The grand finale brought internationally renowned designer, Rajesh Pratap Singh, who is the recipient of a multitude of prestigious accolades, including “Designer of the Year” in the first GQ Men of the Year Awards, EDIDA award from Elle Décor and the Kingfisher Designer of the Year Award both in 2001 and 2005. Singh, who showcases his collections at Paris Fashion Week, presented a beautifully constructed collection that ironically deconstructed the female silhouette into translucent cocoon-inspired dresses with dropped shoulders and tapering hemlines, offering tantalizing glimpses of the female silhouette within. For the first time, the design guru utilized bold, floral prints, presenting them in modern, pixilated interpretations. His mastery of appliqué and leather cutting could easily be witnessed from the packed sidelines of the runway, while his honeycomb pattern and fierce skinny leggings had a contemporary Balenciaga-feel to them. Overall, the collection was bold, modern and very wearable.
BEST EVENING WEAR
Tatyana Aceeva
Iraqi-Russian designer, Tatyana Aceeva, debuted her collection “A Return To Glamour,” drawing inspiration from the glamour icons of the 1920s and 1930s. The Jordan-based designer stated that her designs are for “the woman who wishes to look effortlessly graceful.” With her seductive drapery and understated decadence, Aceeva did just that. Her 38-piece collection opened with elegant nude gowns embellished with black lace or Swarovski elements, then progressed into rich colors of Bordeaux, magenta and electric blue. Elegant versions of the one-shoulder silhouette were in abundance, while gowns covered in sequin alternated with stiff-pleated bodices and flouncy skirts. As the silks, chiffon and flowing georgettes cascaded down the runway, it was clear that this DFW debutante’s timeless collection would be a must-have for many buyers in attendance.
Aly Fawaz — Contessa
Aly Fawaz’s collection, Contessa, also drew on Old Hollywood. Inspired by Marilyn Monroe, Fawaz presented a contemporary take on the classical silhouettes made famous by the silver screen goddess. The show opener, a strapless gown of layered black tulle held at the waist with a minimalistic metal belt, revealed this tweaked aesthetic of classic glamour and unapologetic futurism. Fawaz’s gowns are for the elegant woman of the 2010s, rather than the vintage addict obsessed with an era long gone. Sensual gowns in fuchsia and parrot green strutted down the runway followed by jeweled bodices. Completely jeweled cowl neck dresses didn’t appear gaudy as one might expect, but rather his uninhibited delve into the decadent side produced rich, luxurious pieces that would make any woman feel like a movie star.
BEST ABAYA COLLECTONS
1001 Abayas
Sisters-in-law, Safa and Mariam Al Medfaei presented a diverse collection from their label, “1001 Abayas.” The ultimate icon of Arab modernization and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was the inspiration behind this fall’s collection. At first, the inspiration could be subtly referenced through certain aesthetics, from modern techniques of colored piping and abstract prints, to heavy black tassels and appliqués inspired from Islamic art. And then, overtly evident in the last look, the Burj Khalifa appeared in the form of a caped abaya with a crystal-studded rendering of itself on the back. Fabric hanging from the sleeves’ hems was weaved through strategically placed holes, allowing the cape to be transformed into a jacket. While the abaya was reminiscent of Saudi designer Sinad Siraj’s Statue of Liberty tribute abaya, which he showcased at Couture Fashion Week in New York, their round hemmed abayas, worn over matching patterned leggings, were a unique concept that is sure to become all the rage for young fashionistas all over the Middle East.
Montaha Couture
Kuwaiti-designer Montaha Al Ajeel’s Fall/Winter line moved away from the commonly used Japanese abaya fabric and experimented with wrinkle-free French fabric in attempt to add a modern twist to the traditional attire. Inspired by the designer’s exotic travels, each abaya appeared to be born of a different origin, with heavy Mexican, Arab, Oriental and Dutch influences manifesting themselves though the presence of denim, jersey, silk and lace from around the world. Mostly staying true to the traditional cut of the abaya, Al Ajeel’s designs experiment with digital prints, such as the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower and other pop culture motifs. Bishop sleeves of black tulle subtly revealed bold prints within, while patterned beaded chains were a recurring embellishment that added the glamour that so many women in the Middle East crave. Bodysuits and leggings worn under Al Ajeel’s kaftan-esque abayas provided a body-conscious alternative to her traditional cuts.
BEST CONTEMPORARY TRADITONAL WEAR

Rabia Z
Highly sought-after designer Rabia Z closed the second day of Dubai Fashion Week with her collection “Ayesha’s Autumnal Journey” which is aimed at the woman who confidentially flaunts her cool individuality. Being a ***muhajiba*** doesn’t mean covering yourself in a black sheet. Thanks to designers like Rabia, we are seeing that modest dressing can be just as stylish, if not more! The collection is inspired by the personal style of 25-year-old Ayesha of Arab and British heritage whom Rabia stumbled upon through an online competition to find her muse. The collection plays with fall colors of ochre, olive, khaki and grey, while the designer manipulates organic cotton, denim, wool and lycra with her signature use of stretch jersey. Holding true to the label’s philosophy of conservative chic, structured jackets and soft tops were worn over wide trousers, while innovative “jacket-abayas” in chocolate brown were teamed with jeans, displaying their instant wearable quotient. Casual tops with zippers and colored piping were paired with matching headscarves. Loose tops, long silk shirts as well as drape dresses with subtle embellishments and sharp cuts reflected the trendy yet traditional tag of the brand.
Lomar Thobe
The Lomar Thobe collection was the only menswear collection at this season’s Dubai Fashion Week. Saudi-designer Losai Naseem, who founded the label together with his wife, says the label’s clothes are aimed at connecting the region’s youth with their culture. Definitely made more for the young Arab rather than the sophisticated man of taste, Lomar’s 22-piece collection featured a range of thobes from casual to formal wear, but really only succeeded in the former. Their best designs were modern and simple, with hip accents of bold piping and hardware. Zips and pockets were added to bring out the casual facet of the thobe. With a factory now in Saudi Arabia, meaning stronger capabilities for mass production, the label is doing its best to become the new uniform of the next generation. – Arabnews