The inaugural Middle East Fashion Week came to a close on March 30th 2022 and is already being hailed a resounding success by the global fashion community. The Fashion Week which was held in Dubai, the region's fashion capital, attracted a stellar line-up of both regional and international designers. The five-day event was held across different locations, with the 3-days of fashion shows and showrooms held at The Agenda in Dubai Media City. A chic gala dinner and awards ceremony co-hosted with the Better World Fund kicked off the event on March 26th. It ended with a private luncheon at the Boca Restaurant, DIFC, winner of the Most Sustainable Business Model of 2020 in the GCC.
The legendary Professor Jimmy Choo OBE stunned the audience with his exquisite couture and bridal line, The Atelier Couture. The line, meticulously hand-crafted by The Atelier Couture artisans was specially designed with the region’s clientele in mind.
Opening the Fashion Week was MEFC sponsored Dubai-based Atelier Zuhra's strikingly modern collection, designed to reflect her savour faire, while bridging east and west. Mouza Al Awfi founded Atelier Zuhra in Dubai in 2015, following her dream of laughing a label with a strong DNA. Rayan al Sulaimani, proud of her Omani heritage and family, took over a few years later and named it after her grandmother - Zuhra.
The audiences witnessed pure Milanese elegance with Barbara Rizzi, whose show rythmed with acclaimed signer Princess Bee, who launched her new album in Dubai, gracing the catwalks as the models walked in pure elegance. Bridal specialist Amelia Casablanca, a 60-year old heritage Sicilan brand and one of the world’s fastest-growing brands of bridal couture and Millia London were also among the key talent bringing the MEFW catwalks to life with shows choreographed to perfection.
Paris-based fashion guru, Jean Luc Amsler, showcased the brand’s high level of fine knitwear, while giving it the right dose of pop with accessories by Seah Designs. Sol by Irena Soprano, designer to stars including Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Paris Hilton, elevated the week with her sensual and empowering evening line, fit for any red carpet occasion.
The Fashion Week concluded with a grand finale from the Middle East Fashion Council's Inaugural edition talent, QUOD. Born in New York and based in New Delhi, QUOD combines sustainability with design thinking, a core element of MEFC's philosophy, and speaks a global language that bridges east and west seamlessly. Together with Atelier Zuhra, another Fashion House sponsored by the MEFC, both young designers were testimony to the MEFC’s commitment to supporting the MENA/Indian regional talent.
"We are so grateful to our all our designers and partners who have supported us to deliver on our mission to unite fashion and drive meaningful change right here in Dubai, the heart of the Middle East fashion world," said Simon Lo Gatto, founder and CEO of MEFW. “The pandemic has made it increasingly hard for many upcoming designers to take their craft to the world, so with MEFW, we are bringing the world to them.” adds, Simon.
Other highlights of the week included the Dubai-based Si Fashion Showroom bringing together cutting edge brands from around the GCC for a heart-pumping show while highlighting regional talent.
In addition, the city’s fashion institute, FAD, with branches around the Middle East and India, showed off its talented graduates’ collections during a vibrant show of East meets West, a diverse array of talent from the institute which collaborated with Vogue Talents to unveil a project that supports new generations of designers.
The Showrooms, a concept introduced by The Middle East Fashion Council, were a hive of activity where buyers and media had the opportunity to meet the designers and view the collections up close.
Make-up and Hair was curated down to the last detail to bring freshness, modernity and edge to the catwalk by Make-up Academy AOFM, led by Jana Ririnui, in line with the MEFC objectives of supporting skills and regional talent all round in fashion.
In another first, MEFW's Official Perfumer, the most prestigious of global fragrance houses, Firmenich Fine Fragrances, created an exquisite in-house fragrance as part of Fashion Week's experiential and innovative concept.
“Our objective of a bi-annual event is in line with our strategy to boost the industry in the region not just by showcasing the vast array of talent, but more importantly to facilitate new business opportunities, says Simon.
“We certainly combine talent, glamour and happy moments, but we never forget the Why of the MEFW, which goes much deeper into changing mind sets in fashion and highlighting pressing concerns. Only Fashion has that power and we are here to rightly channel it,” said Payal Kshatriya Cerri, CSO and Fashion Director of the MEFW and Co-founder of the MEFC.
Middle East Fashion Council, co-hosted the first Middle East Sustainable Fashion Forum (MESFF) with The Sustainable City, key partners of the Council, bringing together thought leaders and change-makers as they discussed key issues around fashion.
With key issues raised such as water wastage, fast fashion, and pollution, the forum was designed and led by Payal Kshatriya Cerri, co-founder of the Middle East Fashion Council and Sarayu Consulting. Starting with a keynote on Climate Change and Fashion, by the expert Karim El Jisr, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Sustainable City. Karim’s scientific approach highlighted not only the issues, but commonalities in solutions for both the construction and fashion industries. A “Partnerships for Sustainable Fashion” was moderated by Ahmed Hezzah, Director of Digital Customer at Deloitte Middle East. Speakers included Stefano Galassi, Senior Advisor at Luxury Open Innovation, Ben McLean, Head of E-Commerce at DHL UAE and Payal Kshatriya Cerri of the MEFC. Joerg Meiser, Deloitte's Director of Consumer & Retail, moderated a panel on Responsible Consumption with panellists Layal Akouri, CEO of The Giving Movement, and Amanda Rushforth, board director of Azraq.
“We at the MEFC believe that the only way to drive sustainable fashion forward is to step out of our fashion bubble boundaries and forge meaningful cross-industry partnerships that will resonate with larger audiences. Our partnership with The Sustainable City is testimony to how disruptive we think and drive our action. We are proud of our unconventional approach, one uniting Fashion and Lifestyle in this particular partnership. Two very diverse, but also two very similar industries in the climate change impact that have a massive influence on how we produce and consume” said Payal Kshatriya Cerri.
"We see ourselves as a movement, one that brings together the brightest minds to engage the industry in addressing the pressing issues of climate change. Our mission is to lead and drive the conversation from the region, uniting all actors to engage. We call now upon all international fashion power houses to support our cause," adds Simon.
The next edition of Middle East Fashion Week will be held in Dubai in October 2022. Dates to be announced soon.