x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Why was Dubai Fashion Week cancelled at the eleventh hour?

While participation fees and corporate sponsorship went some way to filling the coffers, it didn't meet the shortfall of the event's multimillion-dirham cost.

"He is the reason I joined Dubai Fashion Week," says the UAE-based master couturier Furne One of the event's creative director Simon Lock. "He has this amazing vision of how to present Dubai to the world and he's already made it 10 times better than it used to be."

Under his label Amato Haute Couture, One was ready to debut 31 handcrafted gowns to the press, buyers and VIPs last weekend before the sudden cancellation of the show by the management. His collection was to rub shoulders with creations by another domestic doyen of design, Essa, who scooped Best Regional Designer at the Grazia Style Awards last week.

"Since the last event in October, we've been in discussion with the Dubai Government about funding moving forward and those discussions have taken much longer than anticipated," says Lock. "They weren't finalised in time for us to be able to produce the April event to a level that I felt the industry would be happy with. Designers, media, buyers would all be disgruntled – everyone would be completely critical of the situation and the opportunity to go forward would be lessened."

While participation fees and corporate sponsorship went some way to filling the coffers, it didn't meet the shortfall of the event's multimillion-dirham cost, says Lock, who has expressed his disappointment and frustration at having to pull the plug.

One has words of support and reassurance for Lock, saying that his atelier's investment in making the collection originally destined for Dubai Fashion Week was not wasted. "We started making the gowns in February and all of them are completed," says One. "And although I always showcase in Dubai first - because that's where I'm based - I will bring the collection abroad."

Lock has no intention of turning his back on the event. He's redoubled his efforts to make sure the October Fashion Week makes the headlines for all the right reasons and met government officials again this morning.

"We're fully engaged and have some short-term and long-term strategies that need to be addressed," he says. "The conversation is a very positive one, so I'm hopeful that in four to six weeks there will be some sort of major announcement – with the new dates for October and our partnership with the government. That is my great hope at the moment."

Lock talks of his "very public commitment" to the industry and clearly feels the burden of responsibility to make it happen. If anyone can make the event a success, it's arguably him, with decades of experience behind him.

"Unfortunately, not everything is in my control," he says. "I'm a catalyst here to bring together the government, retailers, media and buyers together. Without collaboration, no fashion week in the world can be successful.

"Ultimately we have the same creative vision – that's a fashion week that very much has an Arab sense and sensibility. And certainly from that perspective we're completely on the same platform. So, I don't think that the government will creatively stifle the industry in any way."