Arab Fashion kicks off today in style

Arab Fashion kicks off today in style
A fashion week that puts this region on the international map, the event confirms the region's position in the glamorous global markets.

Dubai - The Arab Fashion Week is one of the few global platforms to focus on pre-collections - these being the fashion collections that come out in-between seasons

By Sujata Assomull

Published: Mon 15 May 2017, 9:56 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 May 2017, 3:44 PM

The fourth edition of Arab Fashion Week starts today at Meydan Hotel & Grandstand and ends on Saturday, May 20. If you are in the trade you may wonder why there is a fashion week happening in May - fashion weeks traditionally take place at the start of the season in February or March and not towards the end of the season. The fact that this region's fashion week is taking place in the same month as New York's Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cannes International Film Festival, two of the most glamorous events of the year, actually works well for Arab Fashion Week.

And while it is a regional fashion week - taking part in this fashion week are New York's Marchesa and Italy's Antonio Marras who participate alongside homegrown labels also known for their statement red carpet looks such as Ingie Chalhoub's Ingie Paris and Michael Cinco. In fact Marchesa, the label known for its beautiful red carpet dresses is co-founded by Georgina Chapman who is the wife of famed film producer Harvey Weinstein, and has confirmed she will be attending the event. Explains Jacob Abrian, CEO Arab Fashion Council, "The focus of Arab Fashion Week is not only to promote regional fashion talent but also allow international designers to strengthen their presence in this region by showcasing their collection to a very affluent and fashion-savvy regional audience." The week is held in partnership with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum Investment. Adds Abrian, "The fact that we chose to hold Arab Fashion Week in May, in between all the major international fashion weeks and right before summer, was a strategic decision. Our concern is to meet the requirements of the fashion industry where in general, buyers tend to spend 75 per cent of their budget on pre-collections. Therefore it's vital that there is a global platform that allows you to showcase these collections." And so this fashion week will be one of the few global platforms to focus on pre-collections - these being the fashion collections that come out in-between seasons - and also the emphasis is clearly on evening wear. Marchesa is in fact, showing two collections. Tonight it shows its women's line and Saturday the label's bridal collection will take to the catwalk - clearly reflecting the fact that there is a market that likes to dress up. Arab Fashion Week is describing this as a fashion week for "Ready Couture".

The week seems to have attracted some international attention as among those attending are Honorary President of National Chamber of Italian Fashion, H.E. Cav. Mario Boselli and the Chief Executive of British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush CBE. For the first time, WWD, one of the leading international fashion trade journals, will distribute a print edition at Arab Fashion Week. Perhaps being off-season has benefited the week - as the international fashion calendar right now is slow and so international delegates have the time to come and check out Arab Fashion Week. And while the ingredients seem to be there, at the end of day a fashion week is all about sales. As Ritu Upadhyay, WWD's Middle East Correspondent says, "The bigger challenge for emerging fashion weeks to address is that as the international calendar gets more crowded, what is your true identity and what differentiates this fashion week? Ultimately fashion weeks are trade events. If you are to attract trade (buyers, media) from the region and globally, there needs to be a compelling reason to come."

It should be exciting to see whether this will become a fashion week that puts the region on the international fashion map. It does confirm the region's position as one of the glamorous global markets. The week ends with Arab Fashion Awards Grand Gala Dinner - which is of course, a red carpet event - and no doubt the fashion spotted there will be as decadent as that on the ramp.

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