I ATTENDED Abu Dhabi Fashion Week from Saturday to Tuesday, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Sponsored by Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s investment arm, and Aldar Properties, ADFW certainly has the financial muscle behind it to make it a success. To help organize it, the Camera Nazionale dela Moda Italiana and Maven, an international fashion consultancy, were brought in.
Abu Dhabi’s finest turned out in decent numbers for the event, though plenty of empty chairs were seen on several nights. This was perhaps to due to the fact that the public relations firm handling ADFW was changed a week before the launch, and also due to the fact that most of the public was not aware that tickets to watch the runway shows were free if you registered online for them. The last two days of the event, though, did pick up and the last night was packed.
Straining my eyes for any celebrities that may have shown up, my eyes were instantly attracted to a tall and thin woman wearing a fuschia pink metallic dress and shocking pink high heels. She looked like a mixture of punk rock meets 1980s style.
“Who’s that?” I hissed to Catherine, a fashion reporter.
“She’s Buffy Jashanmal.”
Jashanmal as in the UAE chain of electronics, housewares and book shops? Yes, and she’s reportedly launching her first collection at Dubai Fashion Week later this week.
The week of fashion parades was started by the 15 and 16-year-old students of Sheikh Zayed Academy in Abu Dhabi, who presented a creative collection of clothes that incorporated traditional aspects of Emirati culture while maintaining a fresh and modern feel. A skirt made of woven palm fronds was a big hit with the audience, as was another skirt made entirely of CDs and a sun hat made out of the red and white fabric that is traditionally used for men’s ghutras, or headdresses. Emirati designer Aisha Desmal wowed the crowd with her hand-embroidered designs as well as her lavishly embellished traditional wedding gown in pink and green with a gold jewelry headdress.
The students’ creations were auctioned off on Tuesday night, with most outfits going for a few thousand dirhams each, though a few did reach 10,000 dirhams. A total of Dhs130,000 were raised for charity. My friend Rym noted how only the Emiratis seemed to be bidding on the clothes, which was a shame, really.
While I enjoyed watching most of the designers’ collections, I was disappointed by several of them for looking either too plain and boring, or just plain sluttish.
“That collection looks like ready-to-wear, which I’m sure will be sold at couture prices,” said my colleague Gemma to me during Mohamad Khadra’s show.
Layla Kouris’ collection failed to impress many of us, with her penchant for showing tight satin skirts paired with strapless, lacy tops, which were not particularly elegant.
Saudi designer Amina Al Jassim wowed the crowd on Tuesday with her heavily bedouin influenced collection that incorporated lovely bright colors and traditional, heavy silver jewelry.
Strangely enough, one of the main concerns participants of the ADFW had, at least on the first day, was the dearth of any good food. During the intermissions, which lasted for 15 minutes, waiters weaved their way through the crowds with trays of drinks and the smallest canapes I have ever seen in my life. Most of us were so semi-starved by the end of the first night, that when the host announced that a “light supper” was going to be served outside, we all visibly perked up in anticipation of fare more substantial than a thin thimble of a fish mousse appetizer.
Our hopes were dashed though when a parade of the same canapes began again. Positioning ourselves strategically near the tent where all the waiters were bringing the food from, we hungrily attacked every tray of canapes that came out. Luckily for us, by the second night the canapes had evolved into much bigger and plumper ones that featured small smoked salmon, cream cheese, and shrimp sandwiches.