Meet the Dubai-based designer who wowed at London Fashion Week

Having spent her life in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Amira Haroon stunned stylish crowds in London this week. (Photos supplied)
Updated 17 September 2017
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Meet the Dubai-based designer who wowed at London Fashion Week

LONDON: Designers from the Middle East made waves at London Fashion Week, the latest edition of which is set to wrap up on Tuesday.
Fashion Scout, the international showcase for fashion pioneers, is the UK’s largest independent, globally-recognized platform for emerging and established design talent during London Fashion Week. This year, they featured a Dubai-based designer who succeeded in impressing the style-savvy crowd.
The Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) and the FAD Institute of Luxury, Fashion and Style Dubai (FAD) chose to spotlight designer Amira Haroon at the event as part of their bid to provide Dubai-based designers the opportunity to be seen on the global stage.
For her SS18 collection, shown in the stunning surroundings of the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden last Friday, Haroon drew inspiration from US pop culture and paid tribute to the great talent Whitney Houston, whose music and timeless style inspired many generations of musicians and designers alike.
Arab News had privileged access backstage as Haroon worked with her team to ensure that every detail was right in the run-up to the catwalk show. Amazingly, considering the pressure and hubbub around her – a creative blur of make-up artists, hair stylists, models and a general sense of urgency with the clock ticking down to show time – Haroon seemed to be an island of calm.
“It’s exciting and stressful but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be,” she said.
She has been on a tight schedule with a plethora of tasks to get through.
“I’ve been here in London for two days and there were a lot of last minute things that needed to be done. We had to check that we had the right models, the rights shoes — we have been sponsored by Aperlaï, Paris, a fabulous shoe brand. There were a few last-minute glitches — new shoe sizes had to be arranged for some of the models — and we also changed some looks around,” she explained.
On the day of the show, London was on high alert due to a terrorist attack on an underground train. “I woke up to that news — a very sad and worrying incident for London but I should say that we are used to this as we are from the region in the world where these things happen,” she said.
Haroon was brought up in Saudi Arabia and currently resides in Dubai. She attended the Parsons School of Design and launched “The Amira Haroon RTW label” in 2011. The brand’s signature style fuses modernity with cultural influences and versatility. She has had several showings in the Middle East but this is her first in London.
“Everyone here has been very supportive. It is highly organized — everyone has their job list and are trying their best.
“DDFC and FAD have been very kind to allow me this opportunity. DDFC is taking a major interest in how the fashion industry in the region is developing. This was a selection process, there were eight designers shortlisted and then we presented to a jury. The jury was very scary because there were big names from the international fashion industry on the panel. It’s an honor to have been selected,” she said.
Thomaz Domingues, senior manager of strategy and industry development at the DDFC, explained the competition procedure.
“We give an open call to our members every season. They go through a judgment process and the selected designer gets to come here with a fully-sponsored show in partnership with FAD.
“We are tasked with helping to develop the creative industries in Dubai, the UAE and the MENA region.”
Shivang Dhruva, founder of FAD, shed light on the organization’s role, saying: “We have been engaging with Fashion Scout for the past four years. We incubate and promote talent from across the Middle East and Asia. In addition to training, we support our designers to showcase on international platforms and expand their retail and business profiles.”
Haroon’s collection was notable for the elegance of the designs and the wonderful color palette and detailing. The clothes somehow managed to look both classic and contemporary and it was easy to spot the influence of Whitney Houston in the designs and styling of the models. This was a triumph of a London debut for Haroon and her vision of strong, independent women who showcase their personalities through their style.


Models make their way to Milan

Halima Aden is set to touch down in Italy. AFP
Updated 19 September 2018
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Models make their way to Milan

DUBAI: The who’s who of the fashion world, including Somali-American model Halima Aden and Lebanese-Australian influencer Jessica Kahawaty, have touched down in Italy for Milan Fashion Week.

The event kicked off on Wednesday with cutting-edge couturiers taking over the city to present their women’s ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2019 collections, while doffing a collective cap to the environment.

Aden took to Instagram to share her excitement, while Kahawaty has posted various snapshots of herself posing around the city.

Following on the high heels of New York and London fashion weeks, and ahead of the biggest of them all in Paris, Milan’s catwalk season will see dozens of shows by the likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Versace, Cavalli, Armani and Fendi, AFP reported.

Notably absent will be Gucci, which this year escapes to Paris so creative director Alessandro Michele can pay homage to the City of Light that inspired his new collection.

Gucci, founded in Florence in 1921, will nevertheless host an exclusive performance by iconoclast Scottish dancer and choreographer Michael Clark at its Milan offices on Wednesday.


Some renowned designers will be absent, such as Emilio Pucci and Trussardi, while others will return, like Philipp Plein and Iceberg, along with some surprises such as 1990s sportswear giant Fila.

Last year’s collaboration with Fendi, which saw the two brands’ logos playfully mingled by artist Hey Reilly, catapulted Fila back into the limelight.

Continuing the trend of mixing street fashion with haute couture, French couturier Louis Vuitton in March appointed Virgil Abloh as director of its menswear collection.

Ghanaian-American Abloh previously created the Off-White brand, coveted by hip-hop artists.

While fashion houses put on exhibitions on the sidelines of Fashion Week, including by French photographer Sarah Moon at Armani’s museum, the week’s overarching theme is sustainable development or so-called Green Fashion.

The Italian Fashion Chamber of Commerce, which organizes most of the week’s events, will hand out the Green Carpet Fashion Awards to the most environmentally friendly fashion houses, according to AFP.

Celebrities and key industry figures will attend the awards ceremony at the world-famous Scala Theatre — dress code green — on Sunday, the climax of the week’s more than 60 catwalk shows and 90 presentations.

While the fashion world is not known for particularly caring about the environment, British luxury fashion group Burberry last week announced that it would stop burning unsold goods — an industry-wide practice.

Burberry and its peers routinely burn tens of millions of dollars worth of products every year to maintain the exclusivity and luxury mystique of their brands.

Environmental concerns notwithstanding, fashion houses will also be battling it out for who can put on the most extravagant, exclusive and, of course, fashionable show.