Five emerging Arab fashion designers to keep an eye on

Fashion Forward, the biggest fashion event in the Middle East, returned to Dubai this week. The fifth season of the annual event gathered emerging Arab designers to keep an eye on.

Here are five of them:

1. Mashael al-Rajhi - Saudi Arabia

Rajhi, a Riyadh-born designer, graduated with a degree in business and fashion design before launching her own label Mashael Alrajhi in 2013. The label had a strong presence at this year’s Fashion Forward.

Her collection Dichotomy SS16 is “avant-garde high casual wear,” Rajhi told Al Arabiya News.

“There’s a touch of minimalism with the decision to use black and white. These two colors are simple, yet produce their own meaning and statement,” she added.

“The fabrics in this collection have been selected with a desire to produce texture through layering. It employs techniques that are visible upon closer look. We did everything from smocking to shirring.

“Handmade artisan craftsmanship is a keystone in what we do, and the collection reflects that.”

Rajhi, who said she likes “experimenting and drawing inspirations from all around” her, made it internationally this year after making her debut in Paris and London. In addition to Mashael Alrajhi, the 26-year-old owns another brand called Micci & Mishi.

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Rajhi said she wants to turn Micci & Mishi into “a global brand,” and “build a fashion house showcasing art pieces, couture while also diversifying into other style essentials for men and women.”

2. Fatema Fardan - UAE

Fardan is an Emirati designer, and creative director and owner of Fatema Fardan Designs, her ready-to-wear line that was launched in 2014.

Fardan, who graduated from London’s Regents University with a first in fashion design and marketing, was part of Fashion Forward for the first time this year.

“It was an excellent experience that hopefully I’ll be repeating next year.” she told Al Arabiya. “Everything was very organized.” Her collection was inspired by Emirati culture and heritage, with a touch of modernism.

Fardan revealed a collaboration with Swarovski that will be in the form of an exhibition called “Sparkling Couture.”

Fashion in the Gulf “is still very new to us,” she said. “We’re still unable to compete with London, New York or Milan.”

In February, Fardan became the first Emirati designer to showcase her collections in New York.

3. Hussein Bazaza - Lebanon

Bazaza was awarded the Fashion Design Prize (Prix De Stylisme) for his graduation project in 2011.

He graduated from ESMOD, and continued as an intern for renowned names in the fashion industry such as Elie Saab and Maison Rabih Kayrouz. A year later, Bazaza was selected by the Starch Foundation to launch his ready-to-wear line.

The Lebanese national won the Elle Style Awards Best Upcoming Middle East Designer, unanimously voted by 44 global Elle editors.

This year, he was awarded Best Emerging Designer for The Middle East Fashion Awards 2015.

4. Lama Jouni - Lebanon

After studying at Parsons Paris, Jouni worked for big names in the fashion industry such as Balmain, Rad Hourani and Reed Krakoff.

In 2013, Jouni created her own high-end, ready-to-wear label. She has participated in Fashion Forward more than once.

Her latest collection, revealed this week, is inspired by her Parisian influence that is evident in the color palettes.

5. House of Nomad - Egypt/UAE

Creative duo Ahmed el-Sayed and Saleh al-Banna started their line in 2014.

Sayed graduated in fashion design from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, while Banna has a degree in graphic design from The American University in Dubai.

The men behind House of Nomad have quickly proven their expertise in sports luxury style, and recently won the Grazia Best Regional Newcomer prize. Their label is based on the premise of a wanderer with no geographic boundaries.

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