Moving forward: Dubai fashion

Dubai sashays ever closer to fulfilling its status as the fashion capital of the Middle East this spring, as the third seasonal Fashion Forward (FFWD) event hits the emirate

Global fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s currently dominated by the US, Europe and Japan, but Dubai is its Middle Eastern powerhouse, raking in a third of all money spent on clothes in the region.

Shopping is also a driver of tourism, and Dubai’s third seasonal Fashion Forward (FFWD) event taking place this week not only hopes to inspire locals to support regional designers, but also aims to encourage visitors from abroad to see the emirate as the place to go to spruce up their wardrobe.

This spring’s iteration of the twice-annual celebration of style is the biggest and best yet, with seven new labels joining eleven returning designers, and a brand-new event partner in the form of the Dubai Design District (d3).

Interested in snapping up a creation by the man who has dressed Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry? Don’t miss the catwalk show for Filipino designer Furne One’s Amato Haute Couture. You might see corsets with knives stuck into them, knee-length black lace veils and headdresses that look like haloes in medieval paintings.

To hear from designers based closer to home, head to the panel discussion on the modernisation of Arab fashion. Local fashionistas who’ll be participating include Denmark-born Emirati Mona Abdul Karim, who creates unique abayas for her brand, Gulf Princess. Her clothes involve patterned panels breaking up the traditional black fabric. “I believe that when dressing, it is important to reflect your personality,” she says. “When I design, I carefully choose the mood I want my gown to offer the person wearing it through cuts, color, fabric and prints.”

Also on offer at the event will be brunches and high teas; talks for stylists, buyers and fashion writers; and speeches by the likes of Fern Mallis, who came up with the idea for the first New York Fashion Week back in 1993.

Dr Amina Al Rustimani is CEO of the development company behind d3, which will be Dubai’s home for fashion and design when completed. “We’ve been watching them over the first two seasons and were very impressed with what they’ve achieved,” she says of the event. “We are committed to elevating FFWD to the next level.” She hopes to inspire a virtuous cycle, with the high-quality local and regional couture on offer enticing increasing numbers of buyers, and the presence of buyers in turn motivating the designers.