WITH A BEVY OF COUTURE-CLAD DARLINGS sipping champagne in the corner, and dance music thumping away on the sound system, it’s a typical New York Fashion Week party except for one detail: It’s happening in Dubai.
Although Emirati women secret their couture under an abaya (the flowing Arabic dress) in public, that hasn’t hampered their love of big labels. In fact, it may have enhanced it. As a result, in recent years, fashion heavyweights like Chanel and Burberry have flocked to the region in search of petro-dollars. And now, homegrown stylistas are grabbing the spotlight.
“Our inspiration is cupcakes, scones, tea parties, vintage china,” says Leila Al-Marashi, of the Emirati label Sugar Vintage—available at S*uce boutique (The Village Mall, 9714-344-7270, shopatsauce.com). “But there’s always an Arabic twist,” adds Hedaya Al-Rahmah, her partner.
Dubai Fashion Week’s third installment—held at Jumeirah Emirates Towers—saw an influx of local talent, including UAE-born designer Buffi Jashanmal, whose quirky label Quiet Riot was snapped up by kitsch boutique KRAZE (The Dubai Outlet Mall., 9714-425-9822, krazestyle.com). Jashanmal, who studied at New York’s Parson’s School of Design is known for using tutus, polka dots and Arabic ghutras.
Similarly, Danish designer Mille Rostock has won a dedicated following with her romantic ’40s-inspired label, available at Desert Rose (9714-324-6782, wafi.com) and Tigerlily (9714-324-8088, wafi.com).
Jewelery designer Nadine Kanso’s Bil Arabi collection has also been a hit with UAE shoppers, one of whom requested a necklace reading “Dump him” in Arabic. Meanwhile, French Fashion University has just set up a new fashion program in Dubai International Academic City, and S*uce has launched Stars in Their Eyes, an event meant to showcase local talent. “At last Dubai’s on the map,” says Jashanmal. “And it’s about to kick ass.” —Anna Whitehouse
Labels of Love
Nadine Kanso’s jewelery is sold by three boutiques in Lebanon, and she is fielding calls from Hong Kong and New York.
Mille Rostock This Danish designer’s chicly conservative dresses (made with Emirati women in mind) have been spotted on fashionable women around the globe.
Sugar Vintage Leila Al-Marashi and Hedaya Al-Rahmah’s signature keffiyeh print skirt has appeared in
Harper’s Bazaar Dubai, resulting in extensive waiting lists at S*uce boutique. “People seem fascinated with our quirky take on Arabic dress,” Leila says.
Quiet Riot This year is Buffi
Jashanmal’s third installment at Dubai Fashion Week and she’s just been asked to launch her collection in New York. “I had Elle and Nylon get in touch with me after the last DFW,” she says.