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21/06/2017

'Dubai Fashion Week’ takes a step to realisation

 

Models stand on the catwalk during the Alta Mada Dubai Fashion show March 5, 2007.  Image used for illustrative purpose.

Dubai

The first steps towards developing a full-scale “Dubai Fashion Week” and then turning it into a fixture on the international fashion calendar are on. The suggestions put forward by an expert panel are now with the higher authorities for a possible go ahead.

If it does so, Dubai then stands more than a good chance of creating — and sustaining — a high-profile event that would do a world of good to the emerging fashion and design industry here and in the region, according to a senior source.

“A framework for a possible DFW has been suggested and hopefully it will see the light,” said Patrick Chalhoub, member of the Board of Directors at Dubai Design and Fashion Council. “There is already a Dubai Design Week and that’s been successful.

“Launching a dedicated Dubai Fashion Week will represent a big commitment — but having a strong event, we can have other industry-facing initiatives develop around it. And each can find their own niches.

“Discussions are on with various parties, including the Dubai Government, on the ways and means for a launch.”

In Chalhoub’s perspective, a DFW can make the right sort of noises that is so vital for a domestic fashion and design industry that is still in a nascent phase. And the benefits go way beyond the glitz and glamour of the catwalks and the hotshot designers — and models — who will be in town.

“It will manage to get in the international buyers and have the global fashion media talking and covering Dubai,” said Chalhoub, who is also joint CEO of the Chalhoub Group, one of the biggest names in the region’s retail sector. “If DFW happens, the aim should be to get into the Tier 2 and just behind the Tier 1 events in London, Paris, New York and Milan.”

In such a situation, Dubai could either consider running the event at the end of March/early April or end October/beginning of November, said Chalhoub. These potential datelines do not clash with any of the established annual dos the global fashion industry plays host to. (Currently, an “Arab Fashion Week” is hosted in Dubai, but under the umbrella of the pan-regional Arab Fashion Council.)

On whether Dubai Design and Fashion Council will take a direct role in conducting a future DFW, Chalhoub said: “The Council’s (role) will be more on the governance side. Another entity will have to do the actual creation.

“Our role will be to support — we have worked on it for two years and today has put up the proposal. The framework has been suggested by a subcommittee and the board approved it.”

And what of the fashion itself? Will DFW be about creating a platform for trends that originate from within the region?

“Ideally, we are here to promote something either locally designed or manufactured,” Chalhoub said. “It has to be fashion from the region (and) not necessarily fashion for the region. There are great designers on the international scene who are showing interest in the region ... but in isolated ways. Some of the big department stores are asking for it.

“A fashion industry out of Dubai can fill those needs.”

A possible DFW is not the only agenda the Council is pursuing. The Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation is heading for a September 2018 start, with the intake of the first 150 students and then “move to 300”. (It will be located at Dubai Design District (better known as d3) at a temporary base and later move into a permanent home at the same location. It has firmed up alliances with MIT and Parsons)

“What we are missing is the manpower knowledgeable about the design industry — that’s what a university can provide,” said Chalhoub. “The whole idea is to create an ecosystem in Dubai which can service the whole region in products, accessories and even designer furniture.”

But will there be a level of consumer acceptance that can sustain fashion or design of local origin? Won’t they at best be niche operators?

“Demand is not huge … but we could build always around it,” said Chalhoub. “On the other hand, there are people — the young, the entrepreneurial — who are very much into expressing themselves and they need to be guided in the right direction. The way we see it there is a possible offer and possible demand.

“Definitely, economically it is not the best possible moment for the region. But if we as a Dubai-based organisation can support and make things happen, even accelerate them, we could be in a good position.”Read more at:cocktail dresses uk | occasion dresses

 

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