Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Fashion Futures: Halima Aden and Iris van Herpen among star speakers at Saudi Arabia's first fashion conference

Many notable names have jetted into Riyadh for the inaugural sartorial event, which aims to help develop the kingdom's fashion industry

Model Halima Aden is one of the star names taking part in Fashion Futures. Getty 
Model Halima Aden is one of the star names taking part in Fashion Futures. Getty 

Saudi Arabia is hoping to stitch its place in the world's fashion industry, launching a new Fashion Commission and scholarship programme at the kingdom's first Fashion Futures.

The three-day sartorial event, which kicked off in Riyadh on Monday, November 4, has brought together a ream of experts to take part in a series of talks and panel discussions, in a bid to help promote and foster Saudi Arabia's fashion industry.

Ground-breaking hijabi model Halima Aden is in the kingdom to deliver a keynote address today, entitled "Don’t be afraid to be the first", while Dutch couturier Iris van Herpen was yesterday interviewed on-stage by journalist Jessica Michault.

"Now with the prominence of social media and the online community, you don’t need to be in the fashion capital to succeed," the designer told the audience on building brands outside of London, Paris, New York and Milan.

Fashion Futures, which aims to act as a "catalyst" for the kingdom’s fashion sector as part of Riyadh Season, is scheduled to wrap up on Wednesday, November 6.

Before the conference and forum closes, attendees will hear an address by HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar al Saud, as well as an on-stage interview with British designer Giles Deacon.

Saudi designers Arwa Al Banawi, Honayda Serafi and Hatem Alakeel, and Saudi photographer Hayat Osamah will take part in panels, while names such as celebrity hairdresser Frederic Fekkai and stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele are also taking part in discussions.

"By bringing together a diverse group of fashion experts from both the kingdom and around the world we are facilitating international cultural exchange; providing Saudi fashion professionals with the opportunity to learn from some of the best in their respective fields, while offering a platform to showcase their talent to a global audience," said Abdulkarim Alhumaid, spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture.

"Fashion Futures is the first important step on a journey to transform the Saudi fashion industry from a nascent under-developed sector to a flourishing hub of creativity and innovation.”

During yesterday's proceedings, Hamed M Fayez, Vice Minister at the Ministry of Culture, revealed the kingdom has created a dedicated Fashion Commission, to further foster the nation's design talent.

"With the launch of a standalone Fashion Commission, today we open a new chapter for the fashion industry in our country with Fashion Futures – the first platform of its kind in Saudi Arabia," he told the audience.

Details of the commission's mandate and aims are yet to be shared, however, the Vice Minister also announced a new scholarship programme for fashion students in the kingdom.

The country has partnered with the renowned Parsons School of Design in New York to send four emerging Saudi designers to study at the institution.

Updated: November 5, 2019 12:30 PM

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