SPECIAL: Dubai’s Premiere Fashion Week

Fashion Week 2021 showcased Asia’s finest designers and their exceptional collections. Premiering at Arena, IMG World of Adventure, on an exquisite purpose- built ramp, the 3-day long fashion extravaganza which delighted every fashion lover and style influencer … A special report by Soniya Kirpalani, Photographs Santosh Rai

Whilst the world is hunkering down, planning how to deal with the 3rd pandemic wave, Dubai hosted Fashion Week 2021.Speaking to Saif Ali Khan, Producer & Organiser of this event and Creative Director Kevin Oliver, offer deep insight into how a platform can spark hope in a sector that is flat-lining and the impact it can have on sustainability for MENASA’s designers.

Dubai Fashion Week

 “We often only see the fashionable side of this industry; this is partly a misnomer. It camouflages the real business behind fashion. Most people don’t realize that behind the flash, Fashion is the 3rd largest generator of GDP and sustains 1/6 jobs” says Saif Ali Khan, the founder of Supreme Events, who produced and organised Fashion Week 2021

 “Keeping the business behind fashion at our core, we decided to shine the spotlight on designers, choreographers, makeup / hair artists, models, light- sound producers who have been in a hiatus for almost two years” Kevin Oliver, Creative Director explained.

Kevin & Saif are stalwarts of Dubai’s Fashion Weeks, who have been producing and directing fashion events for 20+ years. “This is our show of commitment to support the emerging local and regional designers by offering them a viable platform.”

 When Covid 19 impacted the world and lockdowns ensued, it kept both consumers and workers at home, inversely impacting fashion. Fashion lovers, were dressing down Vs dressing up; people had just lost interest in fashion. Like a lot of other industries, the design sector began faced tremendous challenge. Besides fashion designers, the weavers, tailors, manufactures and retail and trade workers were made redundant.

Many major brands J Crew, Brooks Brothers and JCPenney, Debenhams filed for bankruptcy.

House of IKAT

July 2020, after the first lockdown, Dubai set up massive vaccination drive; the region saw recovery, but the Fashion was one of the many sectors whose low immunity to the impact of COVID-19 continued to be felt. However, Dubai’s phoenix like rise from the lockdowns saw a surge in lifestyle consumerism. With events like Expo2020, business forums and small weddings filling Dubai‘s social calendar, there was a noticible spike in demand.

2021, offered new opportunities for fashion lovers to step up and step out. Fashion designers’ producers, weavers, artisans, tailors were all back, urgently looking for work.

The designers began working on their collections, but everyone was tentative and the main reason, they had nowhere to launch. But they realized, unlike big international brands, they had no platform to sell their clothes from. Could they sell couture garments through #Instagram? Or through an expensive online event?

 “They needed some serious brand building, as they had flatlined for almost 2 years,” explains Kevin Oliver, the Creative Director and Cofounder of Fashion Week 2021. “Post 2019 there has been no platform to launch fashion on. So, at this time there was a real urgency. The pandemic has really pushed on the fashion industry to move forward and move faster. We knew we were in the right direction when we received great goodwill, good collaborations and a feeling of cheer, as we developed Fashion Week 2021.”

December 2021, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Fashion Week 2021 showcased Asia’s finest designers and their exceptional collections. Premiering at Arena, IMG World of Adventure, on an exquisite purpose- built ramp, the 3-day long fashion extravaganza which delighted every fashion lover and style influencer. Meshing fashion with a twist of theater, a feat that Kevin Oliver pulled off with excellence. As one of the region’s finest choreographers and cultural curators, his rich experience enables him to keep the fine balance required to showcase design with dignity, yet delight his audiences with a twist of theatrics, musical performances, dance, and even acrobatics!!

Raza Baig

 “Our aim is to revive the business of fashion, stirring livelihood generation for the farmer who grows fiber, weavers, mills, embroidery craft workers, tailors. It is time to shine the spotlight on designers, choreographers, makeup and hair artists, models, light – sound producers, to give them a platform to shine on post pandemic” says Founder & Producer of Fashion Week 2021 Saif Ali Khan.

 Launching 12 of the finest designers, each showcasing their unique cultural signatures, some emerging, some established, reflecting Dubai’s multiculturalism. Our favorites were Angelo Estara, House of Ikat, Lara, Atelier Zuhra, Nivedita, Rocky S and and Varoin Marwah in the menswear category. One of the most endearing experiences was hosted by Splash, a conglomerate that showcased FAD, a well curated representation of graduate designers from local universities with their unique take on fashion.

 Stay tuned for our next article on the top trends that emerged from these ramps.

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