Building on the success of two previous years, Muscat Fashion Week makes its annual return to the global fashion calendar today.
Held in the scenic surroundings of Riyam Park on the Muttrah Corniche in the heart of the Omani capital, a host of home-grown and regional designers are set to show their latest collections from today until Thursday. Every evening, four designers will reveal their wares to a VIP audience of royals, high net-worth clients, buyers and select media – one of them is rumoured to be the famous Telegraph fashion journalist Hilary Alexander.
Each day a post-show exhibition will allow guests to see the designs up-close and speak to their creators in person. The fun begins tonight at 8pm when the curtain will lift on pret-a-porter and couture collections from the likes of the Muscat native Nawal Al Hooti. Something of a national treasure, the designer – who has never attended a fashion course – is best known for her use of traditional Omani fabrics, motifs and beading. Previous collections have included floor-length, high-necked tunics with fluted sleeves in shades of saffron, cobalt blue and oyster as well as an array of floor-sweeping gowns with fur-embellished cuffs and dramatic capes.
We are family
Also guaranteed to pack the front row today are the Emirati sisters Reem and Hind Beljafla who will send new pieces from their popular label DAS Collection down the catwalk. The house was initially established with the aim of “updating the abaya” and the talented duo have been pushing the boundaries of form, fabric and traditional fashion for nearly five years now. “Our story began as a labour of love,” they say. “To cater to our own personal styles, we would design our own abayas to wear to events and social gatherings and it wasn’t long before they were getting noticed. Before we could even catch our breath we were receiving orders from all over the world.” Also represented in Tuesday’s inaugural shows will be the 2013 ranges of Tatyana Aceeva from Jordan and Zhor Rais of Morocco.
Keeping the pace up
The thrills and frills keep coming tomorrow with the debut of Toujouri’s latest collection. Spearheaded by the creative powerhouse Lama El Moatassem, the Qatari label is much loved for its fusion of vintage textiles, brocade and intricate handiwork which often takes up to three months to complete. The design house’s name translates to “treasure chest” in Arabic. Having studied at London’s Central St Martin and the London College of Fashion, El Moatassem creates pieces that are a true blend of western and Middle Eastern influences. Given her love for everything from high-drama red-carpet gowns to resort wear, the Toujouri show is one not to miss. In good company that night will be Razan Alazzouni from Saudi Arabia, the UAE label Kanzi and the brand Dibaj from Oman.
Fashionable curtain call
The stellar line-up continues on Thursday and in keeping with MFW’s emphasis on regional artistry and craftsmanship, Rafia Helal Bin Drai, the Emirati founder of Mauzan, will showcase her new collection. Having opened her first boutique in Al Ain in 1990, Bin Drai’s label quickly gained a reputation for its hand-finished, fluid fabrics of lace, silk and chiffon – intricately embellished by her team of more than 300 seamstresses. Another brand flying the flag for the UAE on the final day will be the Dubai-based C’est Moi! Expect to see bold prints, bright colours and the flattering signature designs of the label on the catwalk in Oman or source the designs locally in the coming months at Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale’s. If studs and spikes are what you’re after, check out the latest offerings from the Oman-based label Endemage or the edgy, sculptural couture of the boundary-pushing designer Ahmed Talfit from Tunisia.
• Muscat Fashion Week continues until Thursday. For more information, visit www.muscatfashionweek.com