Speaking with 22-year-old Jacob Abrian, the founder and face of the Arab Fashion Council, one can’t help but want to be on his side. The young man who boasts a Masters of Architecture and designed part of the Lebanese Pavilion at this year’s Milan Expo is clearly passionate about getting involved in groundbreaking projects. By founding the Arab Fashion Council, which encompasses all 22 Arab countries, and is thusly the largest NGO in the world, Abrian, who is also a part-time model, has taken on a venture of gigantic proportions. Currently working on launching the first Arab Fashion Week to be held in Dubai this November, Abrian spoke with Caterina Minthe to break down the Arab Fashion Council’s initial milestones.
Considering that the Arab Fashion Council has united 22 Arab countries, its actual founding is a milestone in itself. The INGO (International Non-Governmental Organization) is based in London, England—which Abrian explained is intended to act as a neutral city to avoid having one Arab city or country shine above another.
The extensive managerial strategy is established to consist of Higher Management, with a board of directors, advisors, and management, which run the council and determine the regulations and strategic planning. “Royal ladies,” as referred to on the site, are given the titles of honorary presidents and are expected to ensure that their respective countries are well represented. Honorary pioneers are titles given to public figures who have made significant contributions to society; ambassadors represent the image of the Arab Fashion Council; associated members are artists and designers; while a board of deputies is elected by said members to represent their voice at the council.
Currently, the Executive Honorary President is Cav. Mario Boselli—the retired President of the Italian Fashion Chamber (a post he held from 1999 until April 2015)—who presides over the council and is in daily conversations with Abrian to offer logistic and strategic advice.
At this time, only one sheikha has been named honorary president—HRH Sheikha Bashayer Al Sabah of Kuwait. On the Arab Fashion Council’s website, the HRH is introduced as a “Kuwaiti & Lebanese Hybrid.” We also learn that she runs a sweet and pastry company called Delicioso.
Jacob Abrian did not disclose any number to Style.com/Arabia when asked how many designers have thus far signed up to the Arab Fashion Council as it was “not according to the strategy of the council,” only confirming that “a big number of designers from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Arabs in Europe, America, and Australia are now members.” Abrian also confirmed that among them are Arab designers that show officially on-schedule during Paris Fashion Week.
To provide further insight to the price guidelines for a membership, annual fees begin at US $1,500 for new graduates with a production value of under US $100,000 and go up to US $25,000 for designers with a production value of US $20,000,000. Universities and fashion schools must pay membership fees of US $50,000/year.
The Fashion Council has established one scholarship for a Masters in Fashion Design with the Domus Academy in Milan. Applicants are to be in possession of an Arabic passport and be prepared to pay for living costs in Milan (listed as roughly 700 Euros/month).
The Arab Fashion Council has created an arm that intends to work on a health and pension strategy for its members following the age of 65.
Arab Fashion Week, November 1-4
The inaugural edition of the biannual demi-couture Arab Fashion Week is fast approaching and its founder and ambassador Jacob Abrian has yet to reveal whom the designers are who will ultimately set the tone for the Arab Fashion Council’s success—both regionally and abroad. It is also not clear who construes the body of authorities who will determine who these designers will be. The producer of the Arab Fashion Week is once again an outside player—Casa Italiana Del Lusso, the Italian Consultancy Firm.