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6 Talking Points Ahead of Fashion Forward Fall 2017

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 22: (EDITOR'S NOTE: This image was created using multiple exposure in camera) A model walks the runway during the Hussein Bazaza show at Fashion Forward Spring/Summer 2017 held at the Dubai Design District on October 22, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Cedric Ribeiro/Getty Images)

Hussein Bazaza Spring 2017 at Fashion Forward. Photo by Getty, courtesy of Fashion Forward.

As Fashion Forward Fall 2017 swiftly approaches its ninth edition, the bi-annual industry-focused platform will once again play host to the region’s rising talents, from March 23 until 25. Some designers are adopting the see-now-buy-now approach, modest brands continue to strengthen their presence, and new names are added to roster of runway shows and presentations this season.. Read on to brush up on the major talking points at Fashion Forward.

Who are the new names to know?

Amid the 24 fashion designers showcasing this season, there will be 12 making their Fashion Forward debut. Alongside mainstays like Amato and Michael Cinco, Abed Mahfouz joins the list of big-ticket shows. One of the first Lebanese designers to showcase at Alta Roma, the couturier is known for his take on ultra-feminine silhouettes and dramatic dresses.

Meanwhile, on the catwalk under Rabih Kayrouz and Tala Hajjar’s nonprofit initiative, Starch Foundation’s latest lineup of emerging designers includes Lebanese natives Roni Helou behind his eponymous label and Diana Wassef, the brainchild of her relaunched brand Emily Cremona. Expect Creative Space Beirut graduate Helou to toy with loose-fit separates, flowing skirts, and current cuts with crisp tailoring. Meanwhile, Wassaf will unveil her sustainable creations under a collection titled Kao-Kabi, where she explores natural dying techniques and natural fibers from bamboo, linen and pineapple.

Presenting for the first time this season is Kuwaiti brand Ghain Ghada. Look out for their tulle-infused eveningwear kaftans featuring arabesque embroidery and shoulder-baring cuts. The label is also recognized for its python handbags, and recently branched out into cosmetics with its first lipstick line called Stained. Saudi designer Sadeem Al Shehail of By Sadeem creates sharp shapes and draped styles via structured execution and fluid fabrics, while a parade of vivid colors, bold accents, and trans-seasonal options are conjured up by Saudi designer Renad Hefni for her brand Royaled By RH.

Ghudfah Lookbook SS '16

Ghudfah. Courtesy of Fashion Forward

The modest moves for Fall 2017.

There are two modest designers to have on your radar this season. Emirati designer Hessa Al Falasi’s namesake label and Ghudfah by Saudi designer Sarah Albaz. Since launching her label in 2011, Al Falasi has churned out abayas with a contemporary nod. On-trend details such as pleats and panels trace her overlays that she pairs with softly tailored shifts and separates featuring fine beadwork. Also striking a similar chord by elevating the garment with traditional sensibilities are Albaz’s Ghudfah creations. “I wanted to create a collection of daywear and evening abayas that would seamlessly integrate with a Khaleeji woman’s lifestyle, whether she lives in the desert city of Riyadh, the suburbs of Jeddah, or among the high rises in Dubai,” Albaz tells Vogue Arabia about the inspiration behind her collection.

Hessa Al Felasi_DSC0184

Hessa Falasi. Courtesy of Fashion Forward

Who’s joining see-now-buy-now?

Jumping on the direct-to-consumer business model is Arwa Al Banawi. The Saudi designer, who has built a cult following for her bold blazers, will present a limited-edition lineup of graphic T-shirts, typography-detailed knits and bomber jackets that will be available to buy at Corcel on March 26. Also joining the movement is Fashion Forward returning menswear brand Emperor. Brothers Babak, Haman, and Farhan Golkar will be presenting their Spring 2017 on the runway, which has been styled in collaboration with Reebok.

But can the business model work in the region?

Powered by Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC), a panel discussion titled “See Now Buy Now – Can it Work?” is on the roster of this year’s anticipated talks, moderated by WWD’s Ritu Upadhyay. Fashion Forward’s co-founder and CEO Bong Guerrero will be joined with Faux Consultancy’s Firras Al Wahabi, Level Shoes’ Rania Masri, Who’s Next, Premiere Classe’s Etienne Cochet, to weigh in on the direct-to-consumer business model in Middle East.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - OCTOBER 23: (EDITOR'S NOTE: This image was created using multiple exposure in camera) A model walks the runway during the Amal Al Raisi show at Fashion Forward Spring/Summer 2017 held at the Dubai Design District on October 23, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Cedric Ribeiro/Getty Images)

Amal Al Raisi Spring 201 at Fashion Forward. Photo by Getty, courtesy of Fashion Forward

The accessory brands to scoop up.

In addition to the runway shows and presentations, the three-day event will play host to a curated selection of emerging accessories and jewelry designers in the region under a space called The Showcase. New names to explore includes Joudesign’s cheerful pop-art inspired bags, and Lya Lya’s structured totes featuring edgy accents like vulture-head closures and talon grips. Looking to update your jewelry collection? Cairo-based jewelry designer Jude Benhalim has your next statement choker, while delicate diamond silhouettes for stacking dazzle at The O Jewelry.


Jude Benhalim. Courtesy of Fashion Forward.

Expect to see white bandanas.

Fashion Forward has joined the #TiedTogether movement, started by Business of Fashion. White bandanas cropped up on wrists, necks and tied on handbags of models, street-style stars and designer during fashion month as a visual statement in support of solidarity, unity, and inclusiveness across the four fashion capitals during fashion month. The humble accessory even made an appearance on the runway at Tommy Hilfiger and 3.1 Phillip Lim’s shows in February.

Click here for a sneak peek of Arwa Al Banawi’s seen-now-buy-now collection. 

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