7 Things We Learnt From Dubai's Fashion Forward And Why We Need To Take Note

From the new exciting brands, to the pioneering woman changing the landscape of fashion

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Dubai is undoubtedly one of the most fashion-conscious cities in the world, with retailers lining up to get a spot in the famous shopping malls. According to research undertaken by Go-Gulf, 55 per cent of major fashion brands currently have outlets in Dubai, ranking second only to London as the city with the highest percentage of international retailers.

Basically, fashion is big, big business out In Dubai.

Amato SS18 Finale, Dubai Fashion Forward
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We headed out there for the 10th anniversary of Fashion Forward – Dubai's answer to the international shows, presenting runway collections from local and international designers as well as talks from the likes of Mary Katrantzou and The Modist founder, Ghizlan Guenez, all hosted in Dubai's impressive Design District and here is what we learnt.

1. The Street Style Is Next Level

As predicted, the street style out does all cities when it comes to brands on show, there are even gaps in the schedule to make way for outfit changes. With Gucci reigning supreme as the designer du jour, show goers revel in the opportunity to showcase their favourite designer looks.

Street Style Fashion Forward Dubai

Unlike London Fashion Week, where the mood is often laid back cool, in Dubai it's about being the most glamorous version of yourself and it brings a certain sense of occasion to Fashion Forward.

Street Style Fashion Forward Dubai

2. Nabil Nayal Was The Stand Out Show And The Designer To Know

Syrian born and British raised Nabil Nayal is having a moment, for sure. The charismatic designer with his signature luscious locks gave the performance of the weekend thanks to his dramatic Elizabethan designs. So wowed were the audience that there were standing ovations and applause for particular looks as they were coming down the runway.

Nabil Nayal SS18 Dubai Fashion Forward
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Born in Aleppo, Nayal's family history is steeped in the textiles industry, creating looks from as young as three years old. He was shortlisted this year for the prestigious LVMH prize and counts Karl Lagerfeld as a personal client. Get to know him, fast.

Nabil Nayal SS18 Dubai Fashion Forward
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3. Lebanon Is Where It Is At

Dubai Fashion Forward invites designers from Eastern Europe through to the furthest point in far east Asia to show on its innovative platform. But if there is one country which is producing incredible talents, it's Lebanon.

Heralding big fashion names like Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and insider favourites Racil and Noor Fares, the latest discovery is Roni Helou – the shirting king of the Middle East (think Palmer Harding vibes). This season was the first time Roni's showed a catwalk collection and it was impressive to say the least.

Roni Helou Dubai Fashion Forward

4. The Modist Is The New (And Brilliant) Shopping Platform

Only launched this April, new e-commerce site, The Modist, already boasts over 70 international designers including Erdem, Ellery and Bella Freud.

Founded by Ghizlan Guenez, who previously worked in finance, has brought the concept of modest dressing to a hungry audience and hosted a pop-up shop for the duration of Dubai Fashion Forward. Whether the search for modesty comes from religious reasons, cultural reasons, or is just a preferred way of dressing, the carefully curated edits and specially created designer collections are making big waves in the shopping world.

5. It's Not All Embellished Evening Gowns

You would be forgiven for imagining fashion shows in Dubai to be chock full of floor length, bejewelled evening wear and whilst there were definitely a few shows that were a KiraKira+ experience, there were also a lot of designers showcasing tailoring, active wear and luxe separates, including international designers Eudon Choi and Sid Neigum.

Eudon Choi SS18 Dubai Fashion Forward
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6. But When It Is Evening Gowns, They Do It Incredibly Well

Middle Eastern Designer, Amato, was the closing show of Fashion Forward (when I say closing I mean, it's late and it's a party) and it was fashion fireworks. Hailed as THE couturier to the royal families of UAE ,as well as A-listers like Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez, with reams of tulle and embroidery, Amato is Dubai's answer to Giambattista Valli's Couture – swoon worthy.

Amato SS18 Dubai Fashion Forward

7. Get With The Programme

More and more designers from all over the world are connecting with the Middle East for a multitude of reasons: yes, there is a fashion hungry customer here, but there is also a modern thinking, fashion forward woman who has a huge appetite for trend led clothes.

Mary Katrantzou Talking to Ghizlan Guenez, Fashion Forward Dubai

When we chatted to Mary Katrantzou about why showing here at Fashion Forward was important to her, she very aptly said, 'I want to create something for every woman. Every woman has the right to feel the very best that she can no matter where she lives, what religion she practices, what country she belongs to, there needs to be a joy in fashion and in clothes for everyone who wants to wear them. The women here know how to love fashion and I want to support them with my designs.'

Dubai Fashion Forward SS18
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