Looking back on Dubai’s dazzling Modest Fashion Week

The catwalk alone showcased more than 300 modest looks led by leaders in the modest fashion world. (Photo supplied)
Updated 12 December 2017
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Looking back on Dubai’s dazzling Modest Fashion Week

DUBAI: Held in Burj Park, alongside the glittering lights of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai’s first Modest Fashion Week was a showstopper. For two days, on Dec. 8 and 9, modest fashion designers, influencers and enthusiasts participated in more than 40 fashion shows, 50 pop up stores, talks with more than 100 influences and fashion and art exhibitions from 20 countries. The cat walk alone showcased more than 300 modest looks led by leaders in the modest fashion world, including Selma Sari by Modanisa, Canadian modest teen brand — Yours Truly, modest brand Huw Roman Tokyo and US based Fllumae as well as contemporary ready-to-wear Malaysian label, aere, followed by Kuwaiti brand Anotah.
Modest style is no different than mainstream style in its essence and core and, as modest style becomes more mainstream, influencers and designers are creating a style that is accessible to fashionistas, modest millennials and mainstream style enthusiasts. As the founder of faith-conscious label RANAZONE, Rana Al-Sayyed said in a Modest Fashion Week panel discussion on Style Talk, “modest fashion is new to the world, so we always need to bring something new (and) as style is an art, each one of us from our own cultures, languages and places can use style to express who we are.”

Stunning @huwromantokyo on @modestfashionweeks stage #dmfw #dubaimodestfashionweek

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Dubai aims to be a hub of this multi-billion dollar modest retail industry in the Middle East and this two-day event was officially opened by Sheikha Azza bint Rashid Al-Nuaimi, Mouza Obaid Ghubash, Diana Haddad and founders Franka Soeria and Özlem Şahin of Think Fashion as well as Arif Ebrahim of Red Connect.
This event was marked with an influx of social media bloggers and influencers as the effect of these platforms on fashion and beauty cannot be denied. As Manal Chinutay, a beauty blogger known best for her make-up and hijab tutorials explained in her talk on style, “social media has inspired me to take a different turn with my style and there are so many different ways to dress modestly so it’s important not to be discouraged,” if you are on your way to defining your own modest style.

@sumayya.sss on the runway of @modestfashionweeks Beautiful diversity on the stage... We are One. Photo by @rooful #dmfw #dubaimodestfashionweek

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Modest style took center stage as the catwalk lit and the future of modest fashion is bright, beautiful and detailed. Opening up with Doris Dorothea, a premium leather brand, influencers and modest icons took to the catwalk showed their style alongside this premium exotic leather band. Moving on to Studio Teh, an up and coming modest fashion line for women, models brought life to multi-dimensional designs, with movement designed through layers, lace, and tulle.
Shows continued late into the evening with the event finally closing after 11 p.m., marking the end of a celebration and unveiling of modest style. Although considered a success, it was noted by Chinutay on her personal instagram, that a focus for future modest fashion week events can be an increase in diversity to represent the full mélange of the modest community. “I was the only black woman to be flown out and participate… The lack of black or deeper complexion Muslims that get invited to these events almost seems normal. This isn’t and really needs to change… as we are meant to represent one ummah/community.”

Talented modest model @fatiimamao as one of the muse of @fllumae from US on the runway of @modestfashionweeks #dmfw #dubaimodestfashionweeks

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As Dubai Modest Fashion Week looks to next year, the focus will be on continued growth and development. As Arif Ebrahim, founder of organizing partner Red Connect, explains, “After the success of the first DMFW, we can’t wait to bring back Modest Fashion Week in Dubai and do it all bigger and better for next year. Watch this space as we are currently looking to bring Modest Fashion Week to further dynamic locations around the world!”
Overall, “we are thrilled with the success of Dubai Modest Fashion Week (as) this weekend we have welcomed modest fashion industries’ shining stars from the around the world to this truly innovative city. With (Dubai’s) position as the center for modest fashion in the GCC, this is another step in strengthening the movements already burgeoning influence on the mainstream fashion industry,” said Franka Soeria, DMFW co-founder and co-creator of Think Fashion.
Özlem Şahin, DMFW co-founder, added: “Our aim with Modest Fashion Week is to engage international and local ground-breaking fashion talents, to show the world that trendsetting design and modest fashion go hand-in-hand. The past two days have undoubtedly highlighted the diversity and depth of this fast-growing industry and further cemented its influence.”


Some like it haute: Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad come up trumps in Paris

Updated 11 July 2018
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Some like it haute: Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad come up trumps in Paris

  • The event, which featured shows by 34 designers in total, celebrates all things haute, widely considered to be the highest form of fashion
  • Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad displayed their latest collections

DUBAI: One week, two Lebanese design heavyweights. Paris Haute Couture Week (Fall-Winter 2018), which ran from July 1 to July 5, saw two of the region’s most-acclaimed fashion designers, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, displaying their latest collections, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

The event, which featured shows by 34 designers in total, celebrates all things haute, widely considered to be the highest form of fashion. And according to Mimi Raad — image consultant at MBC Group and curator of the Instagram page @mimiraadstyle — this edition really went back to the 160-year-old roots of the art form.

“Haute couture was originally all about the custom-made, impeccably fitted dress, where the subtle yet elaborate craft is almost invisible,” she explained. “Lately, it’s been equivalent more to ball gowns, which are too easy a terrain to let the imagination run. But (this edition of Paris Haute Couture Week) marked a real effort to return to dressmaking. Sartorial prowess and couture were glorified. Two major qualities in couture were observed; rigor and restraint.”

“Couture is all about making beautiful outfits that make women beautiful and refined,” Raad continued. And that’s certainly something that could apply to Saab’s Fall 2018 line — and the Lebanese designer’s work in general.

Saab has often stated that, for him, the woman always comes first, which goes some way to explaining why he continues to secure the business of numerous high-profile personalities, including Queen Rania of Jordan, Jenifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and Emily Blunt. In fact, he’s been dubbed the ‘King of the Red Carpet,’ and became the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar winner: Halle Berry in 2002.

Shown at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Saab’s latest collection brought something new and edgy to the proceedings — a couture collection inspired by renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.

Entitled “Of Forms and Light,” his show explored “the relationship between light, natural forms and structures.”

Key looks in the collection come in the form of tailored suits #OfFormsAndLight

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“Saab sailed from Beirut all the way across the Mediterranean and anchored in Barcelona for inspiration,” Raad said. “His embroidered ball gowns recalled the ceramic fantasy of Gaudí.

“Throughout this collection — with the brocade and gazar cocktails dresses, exaggerated collars, abundance of ruffles — he references Gothic shapes, and the arches of the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Each piece, from fitted gowns to full skirts was a piece of wearable art.”

She continues: “Saab is known for romantic silhouettes, with rich textiles and intricate details, the couture’s core. True to his style, he delivered delicate gold embroidery and swathes of sequins, and that’s his signature fairy-tale aesthetic.”

However, there were some designs that were a little too much for the fashion expert: “[I wasn’t a fan of the] ‘ruffle-mania,’” she said. “I couldn’t help but prefer the looks that were the most restrained.”

Elsewhere, Murad was channeling Imperial Russia in his fall-winter couture collection; think textures and patterns from the period and a nod to military suits.

Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio opened the show — her first time walking for the designer — in a plunging black, red and gold Tudor-style with dramatic cape.

“Murad transported us to a grand ball in St. Petersburg with regal colors, heavy fabrics and Fabergé motifs,” said Raad. “Every look was lavish. It wasn’t all about the balls, tsarinas and Fabergé eggs, though, Murad widened his scope, adding masculine elements borrowed from military uniforms, twisted to enhance femininity.”

Raad was a fan of the color palette Murad presented this month.

“The dark palette along with elaborate embroideries, and floral and arabesque motifs applied in bronze, gold and silver, transported us to a mysterious world,” she said. “From bright blue, rich red accents, to pale hues of green, grey, blue and ivory, the colors served as a luxurious backdrop for elaborate beadwork.

“Rich fabrics like velvet, duchesse satin, lace and chiffon were used in a harmonious palette,” she continued. “With this profusion of opulence, this collection looked more womanly than girly.”

Most fashion media agreed that both collections were beautiful, presenting something for every exclusive client of theirs. All that remains to be seen is who is going to be walking the red carpet or attending events in one of Saab’s or Murad’s creations this awards’ season.

What’s clear, though, is that one of the keys to the pair’s success is that they’re never afraid to push boundaries and create something new.

And sometimes, it’s okay to go big.

“I guess, for some designers, more is more in couture,” Raad concluded.