Going far with #fashionprize
Hussein Bazaza, winner of Dubai Design Fashion Council's inaugural fashion prize, goes live on Farfetch giving his first dip into the international market
Last November, the first winner of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) and Style.com/Arabia's regional Fashion Prize was announced. There were nine finalists who came from six different regions, and the chosen one was Lebanon's Hussein Bazaza. With this being the Arab world's first fashion fund, all eyes had been on the inaugural winner, who received cash and mentorships worth around US$250,000.
As the recipient of The Fashion Prize, Bazaza's winning capsule collection will be available on www.farfetch.com. Farfetch is a British-based website that partners with independent boutiques such as London's Feathers and Paris L'Eclaireur; it has become known for its elegant, yet eclectic curation.
Nez Gebreel, CEO of DDFC, believes, "While the level of talent from all across the region that applied for the first edition of the prize was truly thrilling, Hussein was chosen as the undeniable winner for his inspired and unique work. We are looking forward to watching Hussein continue to flourish."
The winning collection went live on Farfetch over a week ago, and time will tell if this stepping stone to international fashion turns Bazaza into our next Elie Saab. The comparison between Bazaza and Saab are justified, not just because they both hail from Lebanon, but because Bazaza also worked with the world famous Saab before launching his own label. But, says Bazaza, "I do want to follow in his footsteps." Yet, it seems he is on course to do just this.
The young designer has done his dues, as part of the Starch Foundation, (the Beirut-based emerging talents incubator), besides teaching at his alma mater, ESMOD in Beirut. Farfetch now gives this homegrown talent
his first door to international fashion consumers. The capsule collection will also retail at two of Farfetch's boutique partners - Curve boutique (New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Malibu and Sag Harbor), and Al Ostoura (Kuwait).
Bazaza has also secured his first couture showing at AltaRoma in July. Alongside his signature play with textures, he keeps his design feminine, but there is a surprising dark side to his collections. Explains the designer, "It is the secret beneath nature that inspires me, the science of nature, chemistry and myths. I like to introduce a dark story and turn it into something feminine and beautiful through my collections".
The Farfetch capsule is also an extension of his Spring 2016 collection, 'Princess Mithra', based on an imaginary Persian Princess. "The Farfetch collection reflects five seconds when Princess Mithra got infected by a virus from the nuclear bomb; the collection represents what she felt inside while the virus was spreading through her body - that dictated the use of patterns, shapes and textures in the collection," he reveals.
Bazaza always has a well-planned, mystical story behind his collections. And this theme continued at the recent edition of Fashion Forward Dubai (FFWD) where he was the opening designer. 'The Auspicious Alchemist' collection had a very medieval feel, and though it seemed to refer to Games of Thrones,
Bazaza says this is just a coincidence. His story was about the alchemists of this time who looked for immortality.
The FFWD collection ended up receiving a strong nod of approval from this region's fashion critics. Though Bazaza has always had a strong sense of how to build a fashion story, there have been times when his finish has seemed a little weak. But now, the Fashion Prize winner proves that he has matured into a designer who knows the importance of thinking big, yet gets the details right.
Caterina Minthe, editor of Style.com/Arabia said in her review, "For Fall 2016, however, Bazaza got it right, and this collection just might be remembered as an inflection point in his career."
Bazaza seems to be getting it right at the time that international fashion looks towards regional designers, as more luxury e-commerce sites feel the need to include new talent with a more global perspective. Farfetch already works with established regional players such as Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, about half a dozen designers from China, and also India's Manish Arora.
Candice Fragis, Buying and Merchandising director at Farfetch, says, "There is certainly a buzz happening with Middle Eastern designers and brands, so I am sure we will continue to see more filter through." And while clients from the region are a focus for Farfetch (which would explain the site's partnership with the DDFC-Style.com/Arabia Fashion Prize) they feel that international buyers would also be interested in Bazaza's label. As for the emerging designer himself, Bazaza's strategy is to work on simultaneously growing both his regional base and his international outreach. He is clear that Dubai is important to his label. "I believe Dubai is currently leading the Middle East Fashion industry by introducing various initiatives to support the talent in the region; however Beirut, will always remain the source of creativity and inspiration for me"
(Hussein Bazaza's capsule collection is now available on www.farfetch.com)