Fashion Forward Designers for Fifth Season

Entering its fifth season, Fashion Forward, the definitive fashion platform in the Middle East continues to showcase the best couture and ready-to-wear labels based in the region, or of Middle Eastern origin. Season Five presents the most diverse line-up of brands to date, with the introduction of presentations as well as catwalk shows, offering an alternative way for collections to be shown. Twenty five labels will present their latest collections this April 10th-13th.

The designers showing couture collections this season are:


AMATO – The much-loved label returns to FFWD for the fifth season. Known for his natural ability to craft extravagant and artistic designs, Dubai-based Furne One has rapidly worked his way up the fashion ladder, and is celebrated both regionally and internationally for his impressive couture creations. www.amatohautecouture.com


EZRA For well over a decade, Dubai-based Filipino designer Ezra Santos has been producing exquisitely- made, extravagant couture – establishing his brand as synonymous to elegance and beauty.  Ezra returns to show at FFWD this season after having showcased at Seasons One, Two, and Three. www.ezrafashiondesign.com


JEAN LOUIS SABAJI – Lebanese couturier Sabaji has shown at FFWD since Season Three, with his dynamic and eclectic collections. He returns for Season Five with his conceptual and daring pieces, influenced heavily by the strength and beauty of Mother Nature. www.jeanlouissabaji.com


ZAREENA – UAE based label ZAREENA will once again showcase luxurious and elegant pieces this April, having shown at FFWD since Season Three. Yousef uses sumptuous fabric combinations and rich embroidery to complement and enhance a woman’s beauty which is the trademark of her internationally acclaimed gowns. www.zareena.co/wp/


Showing ready-to-wear collections at Season Five are:


AIISHA RAMADAN– Lebanese designer Aiisha Ramadan makes her FFWD debut at Season Five. Far from traditional, the label is the epitome of modern design. The beautifully crafted garments speak to the feminine woman of both worlds. With an impressive celebrity following, AIISHA RAMADAN has gained international popularity.  www.aiisha.com


AMBER FEROZ – Indian designer Feroz launched his eponymous brand in 2004. His Dubai-based label produces collections specialising in women’s eveningwear and daywear including Abayas.  Season Five will be his first season showcasing at FFWD. www.facebook.com/pages/Amber-Feroz


ARWA AL BANAWI – Arwa Al Banawi is a smart casual brand for women & men. The brand focuses on redefining the classic look of the suit by experimenting with fresh prints and bold colours. http://www.arwaalbanawi.com/


BOUGUESSA – Showing for the first time at FFWD, French-Algerian designer Faiza Bouguessa will present her latest collection of luxury Abayas. Drawing inspiration from art, architecture and global culture, BOUGUESSA combines straight-lined designs with elegant sophistication. A combination of high quality fibres and elaborate craftsmanship—each design exudes a spirit of true lightness creating a new and fresh identity of the Abaya. www.bouguessa.com


DANEH in association with The British Council – Saudi label DANEH shows this April for the first time at FFWD. Designer Daneh Buahmad’s driving force is to create wearable chic statements. Easy to wear pieces come together to make for timeless basics with a twist of urban luxury. Wild yet basic, classic yet innovative, her fresh and feminine twist makes for a playful outfit base. www.danehfashion.com 


DIMA AYAD – Having showcased at Seasons One, Two and Four, Dubai-based label DIMA AYAD returns to the FFWD runways this April. Lebanese designer Ayad launched her unique brand of eveningwear in 2010 and strives to provide women with ‘fashion that makes you feel good’ – stylish, sophisticated and stunning dresses with a ‘wear-and-go’ philosophy that accentuate and celebrate their bodies, no matter what shape or size. www.dimaayad.com


HASHE – Dubai-based Iranian designer Ava Hashemi creates structured high-end ready-to-wear clothing and accessory lines for women who intend to embrace sophistication and class, whilst staying on trend. Season Five will be HASHE’s second season at FFWD after debuting last October. www.houseofhashe.com 


HUSSEIN BAZAZA – Lebanese designer Hussein Bazaza first showed at FFWD Season One as part of The Starch Foundation. Bazaza, also a Teaching Professor of Fashion Design at ESMOD Beirut, returns to the FFWD runways this April to show his latest collection. Bazaza’s pieces are known for drawing inspirations, where every cut reflects a different story, a personal emotion that creates a one of a kind experience – fashion with a soul. www.husseinbazaza.com


HOUSE OF NOMAD – Making their FFWD debut, HOUSE OF NOMAD is an innovative fashion brand based in Dubai and co-founded by two creative individuals; Ahmed El-Sayed & Saleh Al-Banna. The label is based on the premise of a Nomad: a wanderer with no geographic boundaries, living in perpetual motion from one temporary dwelling to another. A prominent feature throughout all their collections is the use of Arabic calligraphy, which the designers have used to proudly assert their cultural DNA. www.house-of-nomad.com


LAMA JOUNI – The eponymous label of the Paris-based, Lebanese designer produces high-end ready-to-wear. Jouni moved to Paris in 2007 to pursue her designing career, and launched her own label in 2013. Her pieces have discernible and inspiring cultural referents, in outlines or details, and are made to be worn by independent and passionate women. Season Five is her first time showing at FFWD. www.lamajouni.com


MADIYAH AL SHARQI – Returning for her third season at FFWD, Emirati designer Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi offers effortless eveningwear with an updated edge, evolving the traditional vision of elegance. Sharqi is the daughter of the Ruler of Fujairah, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi. www.madiyahalsharqi.com


MARAL – Iranian designer Maral Yazaloo launched her label MARAL in Paris, before taking it to Rome and is now based in India. Fusionwear characterises her collections as she maintains the balance between modernity and culture. Her collections are a beautiful blend of Middle Eastern aesthetics, Asian tastes and Western flavour. Season Five is her second season showing at FFWD. www.maralyazarloo.com


MAUZAN – Showing for the first time at FFWD this April, Founder and Designer and UAE National Rafia Helal Bin Drai, launched MAUZAN in 1990. The label’s fashion creations speak to women and celebrate the Abaya and Sheila as powerful expressions of a woman’s individuality. The contemporary custom-made designs display a graceful femininity and comfort that empower the woman with inner confidence. www.mauzan.com


STARCH FOUNDATION – Under the mentorship of Rabih Kayrouz, the Starch Foundation has presented their chosen designers at each edition of FFWD, to great acclaim. The designers this season are: Sarkis Dersahagian with his label ARDASHES; NOUR NAJEM presents her eponymous label; Joe Arida showcases his brand LA TERRE EST FOLLE; and accessories designer Yasmine Jaber with her brand EXOCET. www.starchfoundation.org


SAID MAHROUFMoroccan-born, Said Mahrouf studied fashion design both in Holland and New York. He presented his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1999 to international acclaim and in 2000 he started his own performance company in Amsterdam. Mahrouf’s love of costume design, artistry and partiality to feminine elegance defines his collections. Mahrouf will show for the second time at FFWD this April, after presenting at Season Three.  www.saidmahrouf.nl


TALLER MARMO presented by Gabs – Showing for their fourth consecutive season at FFWD, Taller Marmo are Dubai-based design duo Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea. The label merges European elegance with Middle Eastern charm and uses fine Italian tailoring with a minimal approach, fused with Arabic traditions. This season they are presented by Gabs handbags. www.tallermarmo.com


THE EMPEROR 1688 – The Golkar brothers return to FFWD for their fifth consecutive season to showing their stand-out luxury mens and womenswear. The British- Iranian trio set up the label in 2007 and are based in Dubai. Their collections combine exquisite tailoring, with regal prints and classic cuts made of the finest European fabrics. www.theemperor1688.com