DUBAI: September was a hectic month for designers, with New York, London, Milan and Paris all hosting fashion weeks. We take a look at the designers from the Arab world who impressed with their Spring 2019 collections last month.
The Lebanese designer lived up to his billing as the biggest name in Arab fashion at Paris Fashion Week with a vibrant, striking collection inspired by spring itself. Saab swam against the current — the predominant style in Milan, London and Paris was street-inspired — to great effect with his bold, dark-but-playful collection, which was dominated by the classic symbol of fertility, a blooming flower; Saab’s acclaimed silhouettes were covered in them. Placed on leather, lace, and silk, molded from sequins, shadowed on organza… blooms were everywhere. In less-skilled hands, the collection could have come across as twee, but Saab, while retaining a certain romanticism, balanced the botanicals with enough contrasting material — heavy gold jewelry, studded black leather box bags — to ensure the overall look remained thoroughly modern.
The Tunisian-Italian designer made his name with a stunning Fall 2001 menswear collection for Dior Homme, and, for the past 20 years, one could reasonably argue that no other designer has held greater sway over men’s fashion and the slimline silhouettes that have become the norm. So Slimane’s debut collection as creative director for French brand Celine — including mens- and womenswear — in Paris last week was, it’s fair to say, eagerly anticipated. He didn’t disappoint. “Paris La Nuit” featured his customary razor-sharp tailoring and clothes that were — almost without exception — black. GQ aptly described the look as “stealthily elegant … but unmistakably Slimane,” and suggested most of the collection “would appeal to a wide swath of guys — from boardroom-dwelling LVMH executives to Mark Ronson.” The Guardian, meanwhile, suggested Slimane’s “brutally slender” women’s ready-to-wear collection “rips up Celine’s female design philosophy” by “jettisoning elegant trousers and silk blouses … for dolly-sized sequin micro shifts and tiny leather skirts.”
The Syrian-born British designer delved deep into the history of England to come up with inspiration for his dramatic Spring 2019 collection. He described its aesthetic as “Elizabethan Sportswear,” and staged his presentation in the British Library, where he’d spent much of his time doing the research for his PhD thesis on that subject. His collection contained several nods to British fashions of the 16th century — most notably ruffs, embroidery and embellishments; the tulle necklines of his T-shirts and the ruffled fronts of his dresses. While his inspiration was ancient, his production methods were bang up-to-date; witness the digitized images of Elizabethan maps and prayerbooks, the Queen’s funeral procession, and her Tilbury Speech of 1558, which included the famous words, “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King.”
OSMAN, the eponymous label of British designer Osman Yousefzada — born in Birmingham to Afghani-Pakistani parents, staged its Spring 2019 collection in London’s Covent Garden and showcased the clean lines and bold colors and textures that have become its signature. While the collection was, apparently, inspired by “the world’s great balls,” this was not an overly stuffy ensemble. Instead, Yousefzada told WWD, he “wanted to do easy versions of formal looks for everyday.” There was certainly a wide variety in the collection — dresses ranged from the sheer to the voluminous, and sharply tailored suits were followed by feather-embellished tiered dresses. Throughout, though, OSMAN’s collection was big on fun and vibrancy.
Noon by Noor
Noor Rashid Al-Khalifa and Haya Mohamed Al-Khalifa drew inspiration from the natural beauty of their homeland, Bahrain, for their label’s Spring 2019 collection, showcased at New York Fashion Week. Their soft color palette drew from sand, pinks and light blues mixed in with blacks and whites, while their silhouettes were inspired by the flowing contours of traditional Khaleeji dress, using folded or tucked fabrics to add depth. Their embellishments, too, were influenced by the Gulf — specifically its palm fronds. “As usual,” FashionUnited wrote, “tailoring was a big focus,” adding that “the defining moments were in the details” and describing the collection as “a fusion of masculine tailoring with feminine drapery” while praising the cousins’ use of “stripe weaves, mini pleats, accent Dobby weaves and fringes.”