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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Catching up with Fashion Forward chief executive Bong Guerrero

The 10th edition of Fashion Forward (FFWD) will take place in Dubai from October 26 to 28

Fashion Forward's Bong Guerrero. Courtesy Fashion Forward
Fashion Forward's Bong Guerrero. Courtesy Fashion Forward

The 10th edition of Fashion Forward (FFWD) will take place in Dubai from October 26 to 28. During the past five years, the homegrown fashion event has acted as a launch pad for numerous local brands; it has hosted the likes of French designer ­Olivier ­Rousteing, British model Yasmin Le Bon, actress Farida Khelfa and Lebanese designer Reem Acra; and it has grown into the most viable of the various fashion “weeks” held in the UAE. In another milestone, this year’s event will take place in a new location, The Design Quarter, in d3. Bong Guerrero, FFWD’s chief executive, tells us about past highlights and plans for the future.

What is your most memorable FFWD moment?

Day one of season one, April 26, 2013, as the first guests started arriving. That will always be imprinted in my heart. From then on, it was game on for myself and the team. Ten seasons on and we are still evolving, and that excitement from day one continues to grow.

So far, what has been the most insightful FFWD talk, for you?

Listening to Imran Amed [founder and editor-in-chief] of The Business of Fashion was very insightful, while the talk with Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week, struck a personal chord.

What are some examples of international success that FFWD designers have achieved over the years?

FFWD has propelled the careers of many designers. After showing at season seven of FFWD, the winner of the Style.com/Arabia – DDFC Fashion Prize, Hussein Bazaza, debuted his autumn 2016 ready-to-wear collection on the online shopping platform Moda Operandi. Dubai-based fine jewellery and accessories designer Madiso also unveiled a collection of evening box clutches and statement necklaces on Moda Operandi. Long-time FFWD participant Rula Galayini was picked up by Farfetch during season seven and also received an invitation to reveal her signature cuff bags at the iconic Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in Paris. Nathalie Trad, who launched her brand at Fashion Forward, continues to gain global attention. Michael Cinco and Amato have shown consistent success on the red carpet globally.

How has the establishment of d3 aided the FFWD agenda?

D3 continues to be a supporter of FFWD and values our determination to contribute towards a sustainable creative ecosystem. We share the same foresight with regards to Dubai becoming a global creative hub, and have worked hard to help regional designers establish themselves, in the Middle East and internationally. D3 is the natural home for FFWD.

Apart from a new location, what will be different about the 10th edition of FFWD?

Every season, we debut new labels and introduce new designers at FFWD. This is always an exciting process – to see buyers and media react, and the determination of a regional designer pay off. Every season we have curated talks and workshops with industry professionals providing invaluable insight. This year, I am looking forward to welcoming more designers than ever to present their collections, key speakers and international buyers at a brand-new location.

There have been numerous fashion-week spin-offs in the UAE inspired by FFWD, often featuring the same designers and collections. Do these detract from FFWD?

We have a strong belief in our offering and position in the market as the reference for fashion in the Middle East. Together with the support of our strategic partners, d3 and DDFC [Dubai Design & Fashion Council], FFWD has evolved each season to become a highly anticipated event on the region’s fashion calendar and follows Dubai’s national mandate to become a hub for creativity. Our commitment to showcasing a curated edit of the best regional designers, which includes well-known names as well as introducing emerging designers, is a key factor that distinguishes us from other events. Combined with the support of our loyal sponsors and the international speakers we host every year, we are confident FFWD will continue to be the leading platform for regional talent.

Are there any plans to consolidate these different initiatives?

Collaboration is at the heart of FFWD. We are strong believers in exploring opportunities and conversing with like-minded industry players.

Designer Aliya Tair. Cedric Ribeiro / Getty Images
Designer Aliya Tair. Cedric Ribeiro / Getty Images
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