x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Five standout collections seen at Fashion Forward

Five stand-out collections at Fashion Forward

The Said Mahrouf fashion show at Fashion Forward. Duncan Chard for The National
The Said Mahrouf fashion show at Fashion Forward. Duncan Chard for The National

Said Mahrouf A refreshing risk

It is frankly refreshing to encounter a designer such as Mahrouf, who is risky enough to not take too many risks. In an industry heavy on dazzle and theatrics, he has chosen to present a collection that came – don’t choke now – in grey and black.

No colour! Yes.

Mahrouf, who is from Morocco, offered smart takes on classic staples, such as trousers that had triangular side panels on the waist.

His flashiest look featured metallic fabric from head to toe, but the woman didn’t look silly, thanks to the designer’s tasteful pleating and cutting. Call it avant-garde bland – and that’s not meant to be an insult.

Starch Watermelon shirts, anyone?

The slot for this season’s opening catwalk show was given to two newbies: Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, whose talents were scouted by Starch, a group dedicated to launching emerging Lebanese designers.

Between the two, Baaklini had a stronger showing.

Several of his clothes featured fruit prints: there were watermelon shirts for the chaps and lemon crop tops for the women. What a joyful opening collection it was.

All the looks were paired with jelly rubber sandals (yes, really). The collection was practical but still provocative.

Jean Louis Sabaji A debatable debut

Sabaji’s collection was very good when the tricks were toned down – such as the simple white jumpsuit with a sculptural neckpiece.

But most of the time he went too far. There were bell-bottoms, separates that looked like costumes from The Jetsons and a yellow dress reminiscent of Björk’s infamous 2001 Oscars swan dress – several disparate elements in one multicoloured, multilayered show.

Jaw-dropping though pointless and unwearable, they were really nothing of this era.

However, considering this is his first-ever fashion show, Sabaji should be lauded for taking risks, no matter the weird results. His dresses were increasingly elaborate – a sign that with polish and editing (he showed 41 looks!), he could one day wow us.

Asudari Thoughtful tailoring

The womenswear label Asudari showcased a collection that featured sharp masculine tailoring, but with feminine silhouettes. Styled with bleached bobs and pale skin, the models wore clean and sporty separates reminiscent of the chic workwear of The Hunger Games.

The designer Lamia Asudari says she was influenced by Delftware ceramics from the 16th century, as well as the imagery of weaponry. There was also a blue geometric hexagonal pattern that was cleverly used in maxi skirts, collared biker dresses and bomber jackets.

Clearly Asudari puts enormous thought into her elaborate clothing, resulting in a polished collection of upscale sportswear.

Rami Kadi Princesses from another planet

The Lebanese couturier Rami Kadi has offered the most sugary-sweet vision among the designers at Fashion Forward: he opened his show with an animated video depicting the common princess fairy tale.

Then out came models dressed like royalty from another planet. Their clothes featured conventional silhouettes, but each came with something slightly unexpected, like a baby-blue ball gown with ruffling that made it look like a hula skirt.

As the procession of clothes continued, the show became increasingly cooler. In one gown, sequinned florets scattered like constellations against a white backdrop. There was a skirt made of ruffled panels that came in different pastel colours, like a saturated rainbow layer cake. (Yum.)

And instead of tiaras, their highnesses wore humongous floral headpieces, because, why not?