High hopes for Arab Fashion Week as panelists talk job opportunities, Vision 2030

Attendees from all over the world listened to a panel discussion held to open Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh. (Photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 11 April 2018
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High hopes for Arab Fashion Week as panelists talk job opportunities, Vision 2030

RIYADH: Arab Fashion week in Riyadh began with a bang on Tuesday evening as attendees from all over the world listened to a panel discussion held to open the historic event.
With the market for luxury brands well established in the Kingdom, some of the biggest names in international fashion are attending the event over the coming days, including Roberto Cavalli, French couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier and Russian designer Yulia Yanina, as well as 13 designers from across the Middle East and Central Asia who will showcase their creations in highly-anticipated runway shows.
Speaking on Tuesday night’s opening panel, which was held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh — where the rest of fashion week will also take place — Princess Noura bint Faisal Al-Saud, honorary president of the event organizers, Arab Fashion Council (AFC), said that the event was part of a historic movement that would go far in developing the nascent fashion industry in Saudi Arabia.
“This historical movement is not exclusive to Saudi Arabia, but to the whole world,” she added. “Fashion is a universal language that the whole world speaks.”
Luca Ferrari, the Italian ambassador to the Kingdom, said: “Saudi Arabia is an important market for the fashion industry… I think (it) is perfectly capable of doing its own fashion.”
Meanwhile, Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council, said: “Creating an environment where young entrepreneurs can flourish (is important). In a matter of years, we will see a different ecosystem in Riyadh.”
The 26-year-old CEO of the AFC also shared his thoughts on the importance of the fashion industry in the country, saying “Saudi Arabia is the most important hub for the fashion industry in the world. Today, it is a fact and a reality that fashion week is an important pillar. We are all motivated and committed. Development of local talent is a reason why the government is supporting this so much.”
It was increasingly evident during the panel discussion that the inaugural Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh is about so much more than just fashion. There are high hopes that a local fashion industry will positively impact the economy and create a multitude of job opportunities in various sectors, something that all panelists agreed is part and parcel of Vision 2030.
The opening ceremony ended with a performance of the traditional Saudi Al-Arda dance and dinner.


Fashion rolls up for Dior’s chic strongwoman circus

Italian actress Asia Argento presents a creation by Antonio Grimaldi during the 2019 Spring-Summer Haute Couture collection fashion show in Paris, on January 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Fashion rolls up for Dior’s chic strongwoman circus

  • “The circus is a world of its own, which passes from town to town, changing each one a little as it goes — a bit like fashion week,” the creator added

PARIS: Italian designer Maria Grazia Chiuri took Christian Dior to the circus Monday with arguably her most sublimely balanced collection for the Paris haute couture label.
A troupe of all-female acrobats of all body shapes led out the show inside a retro big top — complete with harlequin-pattern floor — built in the gardens of the Rodin Museum in the center of the French capital.
Chiuri is the first woman ever to lead the mythic French label, and her feminism is never far away.
All her nearly 70 models wore glittery skullcaps fastened under their chins — think aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart meets commedia dell’arte character Pierrot.
But there was nothing remotely clownish about the muted elegance of the clothes, featuring lashings of embroidery and beadwork, to summon up the spirit of the circus-set 1917 ballet “Parade.”
That legendary show pooled the talents of Pablo Picasso — who did the sets and costumes — the composer Erik Satie, writer Jean Cocteau and Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes.
Chiuri’s designs mixed the romantic and the muscular, cutting her dreamy organza and tulle dresses with whip smart ringmaster and lion-tamer jackets, leather corsets and high-wire jumpsuits.
“Every look has its own personality, just like circus characters,” she told AFP, “brave, funny, happy and sad.”
“The circus is a world of its own, which passes from town to town, changing each one a little as it goes — a bit like fashion week,” the creator added.

The tattooed lady, that staple of the Victorian sideshow, also got a drum roll with a look inspired by Maud Wagner, America’s first known female tattoo artist.
The designer, who sports a few herself, floated surrealist neck tattoos in a previous show.
Critics predicted her silk bandage roll gowns and architectural tutus would also be a hit with haute couture’s super-rich clientele, the only people who can afford the handmade creations which are shown only in Paris.
Chiuri said she took her powdery palette from the stage curtain Picasso painted for “Parade,” with bolder colors almost having to fight their way through what she called the “fine dust that sprinkles stage clothes.”
The designer has put her unabashed feminism at the core of the brand since she took the reins at Dior in 2016.
Previous shows have involved collaborations with women writers, musicians and choreographers.
This time she worked with the female-led British acrobat company Mimbre.
Chiuri said she was struck by how inclusive the circus world was, and how it offered “a possible equality... where beauty, origin, gender and age are no longer important. Only technique and daring matter.”
It was this that inspired the collection’s necklaces and bracelets of interlocking gold hands. An acrobat “puts their life in the hands of another, you have to really trust each other,” she said.
Feminism was the big theme of the day on the Paris catwalks, with Italian actress and #MeToo campaigner Asia Argento taking a starring role in her Roman neighbor Antonio Grimaldi’s spring/summer collection.
She wore an asymmetrically cut white sleeveless dress adorned with ostrich feathers designed to show off her tattoos as a cheeky take on the wedding dresses that traditionally close couture shows.
While Grimaldi praised her courage and “unconventional spirit,” Argento told AFP that she “loved his sculptural couture.”
Few designers anywhere, however, can match the sculptural verve of the Dutch Iris van Herpen, whose gravity-defying creations were the fruit of collaboration with New York artist and former NASA engineer Kim Keever.
Azzaro and Giambatista Valli rounded off the first day of the Paris haute couture shows that follow a week of menswear collections.
Both went with a leggy look, with tight bow mini dresses from Valli — some with parachute sleeves — that he developed out into full ball gowns.
He also topped a series of full-length sheath dresses with fezzes.
Azzaro too toyed with bows in a mostly two-tone black and white riff on the short skirt and the classic “le smoking” dinner jacket.