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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 17 July 2018

Fashion notes: Whole lot of fluff or Fashion Forward?

Though it isn’t quite up to par with international fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, London and New York, it’s the city’s closest equivalent – and perhaps the most boast-worthy fashion week in the region.
A model walks the runway at the Ezra show during Dubai Fashion Forward April 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah. Ian Gavan / Getty Images
A model walks the runway at the Ezra show during Dubai Fashion Forward April 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah. Ian Gavan / Getty Images

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, and haven’t yet noticed the lengthy queues of cars in the valet line leading up to the entrance of ­Madinat ­Jumeirah, you’ll know Fashion Forward Dubai is under way. Though it isn’t quite up to par with international fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, London and New York, it’s the city’s closest equivalent – and perhaps the most boast-worthy fashion week in the region.

The city’s fash pack get decked out in full – though it’s worth mentioning that many guests are just high-school bloggers dressed up for their moment in the limelight, hoping for a photographer to snap their well-thought-out street style. But, hey, we’re not one to launch a tirade against the bloggers – their presence is increasing at international fashion weeks, and some editors are even being bumped to second row to accommodate diva bloggers with first-row-or-no-show demands. It seems like the fashion industry is going through some major changes – and Dubai, too, follows in step with what the international industry dictates.

I should mention here that a major criticism of Fashion Forward has been that, season after season, the same, rather small pool of regional designers are picked to showcase their collections. Nonetheless, these brands are making remarkable headway, growing their lists of stockists regionally and globally, and going on to compete in international design competitions. So while it may have its quirks, there’s no denying that Fashion Forward Dubai is a valuable platform for fashion and accessory designers in the region.

This weekend also marks the start of the week-long courses from the London College of Fashion. Topics range from starting a fashion label or consultancy to buying, styling and visual merchandising, giving those in the UAE seeking a career in fashion a chance to collect knowledge from international experts in the field.

With fashion houses such as Dior already having moved into their new office space in the almost-­complete Dubai Design District (D3), it’s quite evident that the city’s fashion and design landscape is shifting – becoming stronger, tighter and more dynamic. D3 marks the potential of a bustling hub for fashions, artists and members of the media to thrive together. No longer will we all be flocking to Media City or Downtown ­Dubai for brunches or meetings over coffee – D3 promises it all. Though the community is still under construction, those lucky enough to secure space in the district are anxiously planning and fitting their new showrooms and offices. It’s not only international luxury brands that are making D3 their new base – local, emerging designers have also found a new home there, as have a number of boutique press agencies.

There’s more going on in ­Dubai, too. Emaar’s Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience takes place next weekend, and right after that it’s the region’s first Arab Fashion Week. Is the city becoming a frazzling jungle of fashion events? Or is this just what comes along with becoming the go-to city in the Middle East for everything lavish? Well, with names such as the Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani having backed the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience, we can’t help but be impressed. And the talks and seminars that are held are a great way for local fashion-­lovers to get worldly insight into the workings of the fashion ­industry.

Dubai may not be up to the same fashion standards as New York, Paris or Milan, but it’s starting to capture some of the attention.

hlodi@thenational.ae