Six runway shows, two fashion presentations and six innovative pop-up boutiques were held as part of Dubai Collections. Visitors also had the opportunity to gain insights on how best to raise the profile of the regional designers in the global fashion arena through two lively talks by industry experts.
The Dubai Collections ‘Fashion Gallery’, which charted the designers’ fashion journeys and provided a greater depth of understanding of the story and history behind each brand, was another highlight of the event.
The first day of Dubai Collections saw runway shows by Endemage, Arwa Al Banawi and House of Nomad and a fashion presentation by Mochi, all showcasing their Autumn/Winter 16 collections.
Omani designers Endemage turned to their roots for inspiration for their collection, picking up references from their hometown’s mountains and natural springs by incorporating stronger colours and more intricate embroidery into their now-iconic, flowing silhouettes.
Arwa Al Banawi’s collection, entitled ‘Al Bidaya’ (the beginning) saw the designer reflecting on her heritage, channelling Saudi Arabia’s rich culture and great achievements with a modern take on a traditional ‘bisht’ (cloak) in golden brown, richly embroidered blazers and scarves adorned with Arabic calligraphy, as well as more contemporary pieces.
The House of Nomad design duo looked further afield, taking inspiration for their AW16 designs from last season’s trip to Paris. Parisians and their way of life – always so chic, effortless and enigmatic – are reflected in the label’s pared down, more minimalist silhouettes and autumnal palette of the new collection.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 24: Models pose at the runway at the Arwa Al Banawi show during Dubai Collections March 2016 at Burj Khalifa on March 24, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Mochi turned to Africa for inspiration, a part of the world with special significance for the designer as it was location of her wedding. Her AW16 ready-to-wear collection is the perfect representation of day-to-night style, featuring African glass beadwork embroidery - an intriguing and important symbol of tradition in African culture - modernised by placing meaningful symbols on an array of hand printed cotton fabrics.
Friday saw runway shows by Taller Marmo, Dima Ayad and Madiyah Al Sharqi and a fashion presentation from Bouguessa. All four designers were also presenting their AW16 collections.
Taller Marmo’s muse is the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. The designs mix the mundane with the extraordinary, being both fierce and fabulous. The AW16 collection’s silhouettes are mainly loose tunics, kaftans and ponchos, in dark hues, mixed with metallic threads, fringes and tufts giving the clothes a three-dimensional quality.
Dima Ayad’s AW16 collection is a continued evolution of her love for shapes, structures and unexpected cutaways. Form-fitting dresses made of French lace, and carefully placed sequins, combine to form designs that accentuate the female form in vivacious colours.
For her AW16 collection Madiyah Al Sharqi focuses on her appreciation for beautiful fabrics, sophisticated needlework, and a delicate design aesthetic. This is juxtaposed with hints of a military influence, achieved by the use of shearling, leather and lambskin in contemporary cuts and silhouettes.
For the fashion presentation, Bouguessa sought inspiration from the Dubai skyline, and the mystical hues and lights of its skyscrapers. She introduced a deeper, more intense colour palette and experimented with textures to create designs that are both classic and modern.
Across the two days visitors had a chance to visit Pop Up Boutiques by accessory designers Bil Arabi, L'Afshar, Nathalie Trad, NS by Noof, Rula Galayini and Shamsa Alabbar.
In a first for the region, the designers showcased were specially invited to take part by a special committee of fashion industry professionals and leading influencers. The event was also endorsed by Dubai Design & Fashion Council, supporting its mission to nurture the next generation of talent in the region.