Arab Fashion Week in Dubai sets sail aboard Queen Elizabeth II

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Filipino-born designer Furne One has dressed the world’s most celebrated stars. (Arab News)
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The designer Furne One showcased some of his most delicate yet, with out-of-the-box, floaty lace and tulle ball gowns causing quite a stir in the well-heeled audience. (Arab News)
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Amato Couture kicked off the sixth edition of Arab Fashion Week with a catwalk show. (Arab News)
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Amato Couture kicked off the sixth edition of Arab Fashion Week with a catwalk show. (Arab News)
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The designer Furne One showcased some of his most delicate yet, with out-of-the-box, floaty lace and tulle ball gowns causing quite a stir in the well-heeled audience. (Arab News)
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Amato Couture kicked off the sixth edition of Arab Fashion Week with a catwalk show. (Arab News)
Updated 10 May 2018
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Arab Fashion Week in Dubai sets sail aboard Queen Elizabeth II

DUBAI: The world’s first floating fashion week got off to a stylish, if not very delayed, start on Wednesday night as industry insiders gathered aboard the newly inaugurated naval hotel, the Queen Elizabeth II, which is docked in Dubai.

The Arab Fashion Council’s sixth edition of Arab Fashion Week in Dubai is set to showcase runway shows by 18 international designers including homegrown brand Amato Couture, which kicked off the event with a catwalk show.

Launched in 2002 in the UAE, Amato Couture is the brainchild of Filipino-born designer Furne One, who has dressed the world’s most celebrated stars including supermodels Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks, as well as singing sensations such as Beyonce, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj.

The designer showcased some of his most delicate yet, with out-of-the-box, floaty lace and tulle ball gowns causing quite a stir in the well-heeled audience. The dresses were ideal for the modern bride, with their form-fitting cuts, beaded bodices and flowing, embellished white capes.

This season, designers from 13 different countries will take part including the UAE, Russia, UK, Venezuela, Lebanon, US, Saudi Arabia, China, Taiwan, Portugal, Italy, Armenia and Egypt. The fashion-forward event will also see the launch of an eco-friendly collection under the name of AFC Green Label — a major move towards fashion sustainability in the region.

For the most part, the designers will showcase their Resort or Cruise collections, which makes the choice of a cruise ship-cum-hotel as the location for this edition of Arab Fashion Week so fitting.

Cruise or “resort” shows — shown by only a handful of the world’s fashion houses — were originally conceived to target wealthy women who traveled on cruise ships in the winter. Nowadays, they are used as a lucrative means of re-stimulating fashions in the mid-season lull.

The world-famous cruise liner, with a history spanning five decades, will see models walk the plank to showcase the most innovative creations from international designers, in a stylish event set to run from May 9-12.

The ship has been restored to her former glory — maintaining interior design features such as period furniture, paintings and famous memorabilia. The original porthole windows add a maritime feel to the modernized guest rooms and many of the restaurants have retained the same names.


SemSem’s Ramadan line has a charitable twist

US-Somali model Halima Aden has worked with SemSem in the past.
Updated 22 May 2018
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SemSem’s Ramadan line has a charitable twist

Famed French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent once said that the city of Marrakesh taught him color. It seems that the Moroccan city has struck again, serving as the inspiration for SemSem’s bold Ramadan line this season.

With its mélange of cultural currents and cosmopolitan charge, the bustle of Marrakesh is manifest in SemSem’s red-based collection. A brassy fire-engine trench and gilded-blush maxi are among the highlights of the edit, available exclusively at luxury e-tailers The Modist and Ounass.

For those seeking bold, iftar-appropriate looks this season, SemSem’s berry-red jumpsuit or high-low hemmed jacquard top are both beautiful, souk-inspired statement pieces.  Floral prints appearing throughout the collection recall the Majorelle garden, Saint Laurent’s lush Marrakesh property. 

Separates, including tailored pants befitting the refined city-stroller, can be paired with the collection’s pleated tops or layered for dramatic effect. 

Self-consciously eschewing derivatives of slouched kaftans, the pieces all feature refined, structured cuts. True to the brand’s aesthetic, SemSem’s Ramadan collection is an unabashed ode to modern, metropolitan femininity.

 Founder Abeer Al-Otaiba, who originally hails from Egypt, says this year’s Ramadan edit was “deeply personal.

“I wanted it to be beautiful, impactful and reflective of my heritage,” Al-Otaiba said.  “I enjoy the sense of purpose Ramadan represents and I try to embrace all that it has to offer. Creating this collection is an extension of this time of introspection and celebration.”

A dedicated philanthropist with a degree in civil engineering and stints spent living across the Middle East, Europe and America, Al-Otaiba created SemSem in 2015 as a way to celebrate women and children across the globe. Bestowing the label with her daughter’s nickname, Al-Otaiba’s vision has allowed SemSem to mature in a few short years, emerging at the forefront of the luxury, ready-to-wear market.

With lines for both women and girls, the brand has become a favorite of multi-tasking mothers seeking balance and an elegant wardrobe with a charitable sense of purpose. Every season, Al-Otaiba teams up with a non-profit promoting the well-being of women and children. 

This year, 10 percent of the sales from the brand’s Ramadan collection sold at Ounass will go to causes supported by the Dubai Cares charity.

Previously, Al-Otaiba sought to raise awareness about maternal mortality rates and youth illiteracy, supporting organizations working across Africa to empower women and children. 

Insisting on the confluence of doing good and dressing well, SemSem has become a celebrity favorite, worn by conscientious Hollywood moms like Blake Lively and Kourtney Kardashian. 

Showing at Paris Fashion Week and regularly written up in Vogue, SemSem has brought a jet-set chic to mother-daughter wear. 

But the line’s ethos isn’t about red-carpet glitter. Encouraging mothers to instill a sense of global awareness and dedication to philanthropy in their daughters lies at the heart of SemSem’s mission. It’s a perfect conversation — and the perfect conversation-provoking ensembles— to have this Ramadan season.