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Arab Fashion Week opens in Dubai

Models walk down the catwalk wearing designs by Abdo Aoude during the Arab Fashion Week in Dubai on Friday. (AFP)
DUBAI: Designers, buyers and influencers have descended on Dubai for Arab Fashion Week, a five-day event dedicated to ready couture and resort wear for women, men and those who refuse a label.
The show opened Tuesday night with Jordanian-Canadian sensation Rad Hourani, Palestinian-American Jenanne Filat and her menswear lineup straight out of Arkansas, and runway darlings Marchesa.
Hourani sent his models down the catwalk in geometric, binary-transcending designs “based on style preference rather than gender,” with men, women and gender non-conforming models in layers of dark boiled wool and poplin, and all in pastel slip-on shoes.
The week will also showcase designers specializing in abayas, a traditional robe-like dress that is gaining popularity among major labels as they move into regional markets. The International Dwarf Fashion Show will also host a show by American Wardrobe featuring models living with dwarfism.
While listed as an international fashion week alongside Paris and Milan, the twice-yearly Arab Fashion Week offers exclusively see-now-buy-now collections and pre-collections — an issue that has been met with some contention by traditional gatekeepers in the world of high fashion.
Marchesa’s trademark fairytale pre-fall collection was an instant hit with the Arab Fashion Week crowd, some of whom put on their Marchesa best for the occasion. Many were still snapping selfies on the catwalk moments after the lights dimmed and music started.
With three-dimensional floral appliques, layers of tulle, long beaded fringe and intricate embroidery in blush, blue and metallics, Marchesa’s collection of gowns was met with nods and excited whispers.
Marchesa co-founder and designer Georgina Chapman said: “We’ve always had a strong clientele base here and I think it’s because the Middle Eastern woman, the Arab woman, appreciates fashion.”
“She’s not afraid of trying something ... She’s bold, and she’s glamorous, and she’s feminine, and she’s unapologetic about that.”
The Muslim fashion industry is booming, with spending on modest wear — which includes both traditionally feminine and gender-shunning designs — expected to top $480 billion annually by 2019.

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