The UK-trained Emirati designer is taking ler label Bint Thani to a London Fashion Week show for emerging talent.
London Fashion Week debut for designer Khulood Al Thani
For the Emirati designer Khulood Al Thani, debuting a collection at London Fashion Week's sideline show for emerging talent, "A La Mode", is something of a homecoming.
"I moved to London in 2009 and took some courses at the London College of Fashion," she says. "That's when I first made the serious decision to focus on fashion. And it was in London that I did my first photo shoot and collection, which generated some great feedback from the British people. This show is so exciting and it's such a good channel for my brand at this stage."
A total of 16 pieces from Al Thani's spring/summer 2012 collection have travelled from the UAE for the UK show tomorrow night, ranging from maxi and cocktail dresses to kaftans. The Bint Thani label's trademark stamp is omnipresent from the designer's love of bows to Breakfast at Tiffany's inspired eye-masks.
"These are things that will always be a part of my brand and I use a lot of funky blue and pink," she says. "I'm also focused on the concept of the little black dress and I have three pieces centred around that theme - some even have vintage accessories, like watches, which I sourced from a market in London."
With her label very much a fusion of high-street fashion and haute couture, Al Thani refuses to compromise on high quality materials, placing the emphasis on luxury.
"All of my clothes are made in UAE and the fabrics come from many different markets. It's all about quality and I know that if I won't wear a certain fabric, for sure my clients won't want to wear it either. So I use a lot of silks, chiffons and satins etc which sometimes come from France, Japan and even Korea."
Now in its sixth year, the off-schedule A La Mode show rapidly established itself as a respected platform for spotlighting emerging and independent global designers. Held biannually in tandem with LFW, over a dozen budding designers will showcase their wares to buyers and journalists over the weekend at London's elegant Charing Cross Hotel.
An astute businesswoman, Al Thani doesn't underestimate the commercial potential of the cost-effective event in a city which helped propel home-grown talents such as Dima Ayad and Furne One abroad.
"I want to appeal to a universal audience and I think London gives me very good access to that," she says
"This show will definitely have an impact on my business because London has such a strong history with the fashion industry. It's such an encouraging market when it comes to younger independent labels and it especially suits my designs.
"Until now, I've been very focused on sales in the UAE and I'm looking at building my brand equity in London. If there were some business opportunities related to that - I'd be open to those ideas."
The designer will also be taking advantage of the many networking opportunities surrounding the event which has attracted media outlets like Sky News, Channel 4, The Independent and Cosmopolitan in recent years.
She imagines she'll be fielding questions regarding the quality and quantity of burgeoning talent from the UAE and is fully prepared to silence naysayers who query the sector's regional sustainability.
"Our industry is so very young when it comes to the fashion industry and it's completely different to international ones in Paris, France for example, which have been established since the 1600s. They've taken centuries to achieve their position and we can't compare."
"However, I know we can deliver and meet what's being expected from us internationally, and I'm very proud to not only be a local Emirati but also a global Emirati, with my participation in London Fashion Week."
When the London event wraps up, it's off to Paris for Al Thani, another city which was instrumental in nurturing her creative talent. She was the first UAE national to graduate with a master's in fashion management and marketing from the acclaimed ESMOD fashion school in the French capital, and came to be inspired by her surroundings.
"When I was in Paris, I fell in love with the designs of Manoush [eclectic French designer label]. I like people who are trendsetters not trend-followers - like Alexander McQueen, for example. Those coming up with their own creative ideas in the market.
"This trip to Paris, I'll be going to the Première Vision exhibition for fabric traders," she says. "It's a good place for me to educate myself about the fabrics for the upcoming season to keep my collections up to date. So I have some homework to do after London!"
After spending time in two of the fashion capitals of the world - might New York soon be on the radar? Well maybe, especially if one of Al Thani's dream clients picks up the phone.
"I would love to design for the Gossip Girls!" she chuckles. "I feel my brand would appeal to this kind of age and the little ladies would wear my collection."
View Bint Thani collections at www.bintthani.com
Visit in-store at Dubai's Aura-b - Art & Fashion Boutique, O Concept store in Jumeirah and Schuh in the BurJuman Centre.