Sophia the Robot set to sit front row at Modest Fashion Week

Sophia the Robot is among the special guests at IMFW. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Sophia the Robot set to sit front row at Modest Fashion Week

  • The third edition of the event is set to take place from April 2-5

DUBAI: Designers, celebrities and bloggers from around the world are gearing up for the 2020 Modanisa Istanbul Modest Fashion Week (IMFW), an event aimed to tackle the stereotypes that surround modest dressing by celebrating and showcasing modern modest designers from around the world.

The third edition of the event, which was co-founded by Franka Soeria — founder of Alahijab.com fashion — and Turkish entrepreneur Özlem Şahin in collaboration with modest fashion brand Modanisa in 2016, is set to take place from April 2-5 in Istanbul’s Zorlu Center.

The fashion platform has invited modest influencers, retail vendors and tastemakers from across the world, including Jordan, Kuwait, the UAE, India and Singapore, to partake in this year’s event. Among the special guests is Saudi Arabia’s “global citizen” Sophia the Robot, who will be positioned front row for the runways of Turkey’s avant-garde couturier Özlem Süer, Jordan’s Zeina Ali and fashion blogger-turned-designer Roza Jo, among others.

Additionally, the robot will also participate as a speaker on a panel that explores the growing relationship between fashion and technology.

“Ever since Saudi Arabia first introduced Sophia the Robot to the world, she has become a global sensation. She is synonymous with the future, which is a major theme at this year’s Modanisa Istanbul Modest Fashion Week,” shares event director Havva Kahraman with Arab News. “We are super excited that Sophia will be attending. She will be in the front row taking in the latest modest trends,” she added.

It won’t be the first time the AI creation from Hanson Robotics attends a fashion week. In 2018, Sophia was spotted at Alexander Wang’s Fall 2019 show in New York, wearing Wang’s boxy blazer style, with metal safety pins forming hearts on both of her sleeves, next to artists Teyana Taylor and 21 Savage.

Meanwhile, Sophia isn’t the only star attendees of IMFW can look forward to spotting on and off the runways. Other highlights include hijab-wearing model of Algerian descent Feriel Moulai, who is set to grace the catwalk in Istanbul.




Hijab-wearing model of Algerian descent Feriel Moulai is set to grace the catwalk in Istanbul. (Supplied)

Over the last few years, the fashion industry seems to have tuned into the often-underrepresented demographic that comprises Muslim women and others for whom dressing conservatively is a personal or cultural choice. With the rise of hijab-wearing models such as Halima Aden or Ugbad Abdi, major brands are also keen to be part of the modest fashion movement, which is estimated as one of the fastest growing markets.

Nike has released a Nike Pro hijab, while Burberry tapped hijab-wearing model Ikram Abdi Omar as part of their festive campaign in 2019. Noticing an untapped market, major labels have finally started to advertise and reach out to Muslim women and others who prefer to dress in a more modest manner.

IMFW was first held in May 2016. Since then, the platform has travelled to multiple international destinations including London, Dubai and Jakarta.


Inside Dubai’s Theater of Digital Art

Updated 3 min 39 sec ago

Inside Dubai’s Theater of Digital Art

  • Less maximum-security museum, more relaxed moving-image showcase, ToDA’s launch makes for an enjoyable outing

DUBAI: If Vincent Van Gogh or Edvard Munch could time travel, one wonders what they would think about how art has evolved. Or about how much their masterpieces have fetched over the years, or how their works have now been transformed into digitised designs that can float from floor to ceiling.

For us, here in the present, digital art theater is a modern take on consuming artworks; getting up close and personal with renowned paintings without fear of ruining them. It’s certainly an unconventional way of presenting the world’s greatest works without having to worry about transporting multi-million dollar canvasses from city to city.

One brand leading this type of experience is the Theater of Digital Art (ToDA), which has just opened its first permanent space in the Middle East. Following its regional debut exhibit in Saudi Arabia, ToDA is now in the United Arab Emirates, taking over Dubai’s Souk Madinat Jumeirah’s former theatre.

Following its regional debut exhibit in Saudi Arabia, ToDA is now in the United Arab Emirates, taking over Dubai’s Souk Madinat Jumeirah’s former theatre. (Supplied)

“The exhibition in Saudi wasn’t as immersive as it is here; here it is available (to view from) different angles. And because it is a theater (space), it gives a different effect,” ToDA’s general manager, Gabriel Afrim tells Arab News. “Those who already visited in Saudi will get a different experience here.”

The company has definitely brought in the big guns for its first long-running show. Running for three months, “From Monet to Kandinsky. Revolutionary Art” is dedicated to “the most important art movements of late 19th and early 20th centuries” through the vision of nine legendary painters: Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky, Georges Seurat, Paul Cézanne, Edvard Munch, Juan Gris, Robert Delaunay, and Paul Klee.

Here’s how it works. Running every hour, entry includes access to the 45-minute “performance” of various artworks by the artists mentioned.

ToDA collaborates with Vision Multimedia Projects, a Russian company that specializes in these types of multimedia experiences. (Supplied)

“When you walk into a gallery you can see the masterpiece, but here you can see them ‘animated,’ allowing you to see more details in the painting,” Afrim elaborates. “It’s fully immersive. Visitors can sit and enjoy the music and art on the walls.”

ToDA collaborates with Vision Multimedia Projects, a Russian company that specializes in these types of multimedia experiences. Once the show’s concept is confirmed, says Afrim, the partner company works on everything from acquiring rights to both the art and the music, as well as piecing it all together.

Munch’s “The Scream” is very much the star of the show — as relevant today as it was when it first created in 1893 — representing the universal anxiety of man. It will no doubt resonate with many, considering it accurately depicts how the majority of us feel about 2020 so far.

One more offering included in the ticket price (from $20 for adults) is the VR Room that incorporates 3D, virtual-reality and augmented-reality “painting” experiences. (Supplied)

From a personal perspective, ToDA doesn’t replace the experience of viewing the real art pieces; rather it is a nice accompaniment and makes for something different. It is much more child-friendly as well. The children’s Interactive Room allows young visitors to create their own animal coloring, and see it transformed from paper to animation right before their eyes.

One more offering included in the ticket price (from $20 for adults) is the VR Room that incorporates 3D, virtual-reality and augmented-reality “painting” experiences. The permanent arrival of ToDA in Dubai was planned pre-COVID, so it will be interesting to see how well this room takes. While staff members were taking the necessary sanitary precautions, I was keen to avoid trying on a headset.

Taking current times into account, ToDA is operating at a limited capacity — the original plan was to host up to 500 visitors per hour; now it has been reduced to 120. The smaller number actually makes more sense. During my own visit, it was somewhat frustrating to be surrounded by a few individuals who were more occupied with chatting loudly or “doing it for the ‘Gram” rather than taking in the visuals and learning more about the artists. So if you plan on heading there, Afrim offers some advice:

“The beauty of this place is that you don’t have to sit in a certain way to see it and look in a single direction. Personally, I prefer to sit on the floor.”

ToDA’s plan is to remain in Dubai for just under 10 years, running different shows every few months. So there’s definitely time for visitors to get it as right as the organization itself has.