Meet the Dubai-based designer who wowed at London Fashion Week

Having spent her life in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Amira Haroon stunned stylish crowds in London this week. (Photos supplied)
Updated 17 September 2017
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Meet the Dubai-based designer who wowed at London Fashion Week

LONDON: Designers from the Middle East made waves at London Fashion Week, the latest edition of which is set to wrap up on Tuesday.
Fashion Scout, the international showcase for fashion pioneers, is the UK’s largest independent, globally-recognized platform for emerging and established design talent during London Fashion Week. This year, they featured a Dubai-based designer who succeeded in impressing the style-savvy crowd.
The Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) and the FAD Institute of Luxury, Fashion and Style Dubai (FAD) chose to spotlight designer Amira Haroon at the event as part of their bid to provide Dubai-based designers the opportunity to be seen on the global stage.
For her SS18 collection, shown in the stunning surroundings of the Freemasons’ Hall in Covent Garden last Friday, Haroon drew inspiration from US pop culture and paid tribute to the great talent Whitney Houston, whose music and timeless style inspired many generations of musicians and designers alike.
Arab News had privileged access backstage as Haroon worked with her team to ensure that every detail was right in the run-up to the catwalk show. Amazingly, considering the pressure and hubbub around her – a creative blur of make-up artists, hair stylists, models and a general sense of urgency with the clock ticking down to show time – Haroon seemed to be an island of calm.
“It’s exciting and stressful but that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be,” she said.
She has been on a tight schedule with a plethora of tasks to get through.
“I’ve been here in London for two days and there were a lot of last minute things that needed to be done. We had to check that we had the right models, the rights shoes — we have been sponsored by Aperlaï, Paris, a fabulous shoe brand. There were a few last-minute glitches — new shoe sizes had to be arranged for some of the models — and we also changed some looks around,” she explained.
On the day of the show, London was on high alert due to a terrorist attack on an underground train. “I woke up to that news — a very sad and worrying incident for London but I should say that we are used to this as we are from the region in the world where these things happen,” she said.
Haroon was brought up in Saudi Arabia and currently resides in Dubai. She attended the Parsons School of Design and launched “The Amira Haroon RTW label” in 2011. The brand’s signature style fuses modernity with cultural influences and versatility. She has had several showings in the Middle East but this is her first in London.
“Everyone here has been very supportive. It is highly organized — everyone has their job list and are trying their best.
“DDFC and FAD have been very kind to allow me this opportunity. DDFC is taking a major interest in how the fashion industry in the region is developing. This was a selection process, there were eight designers shortlisted and then we presented to a jury. The jury was very scary because there were big names from the international fashion industry on the panel. It’s an honor to have been selected,” she said.
Thomaz Domingues, senior manager of strategy and industry development at the DDFC, explained the competition procedure.
“We give an open call to our members every season. They go through a judgment process and the selected designer gets to come here with a fully-sponsored show in partnership with FAD.
“We are tasked with helping to develop the creative industries in Dubai, the UAE and the MENA region.”
Shivang Dhruva, founder of FAD, shed light on the organization’s role, saying: “We have been engaging with Fashion Scout for the past four years. We incubate and promote talent from across the Middle East and Asia. In addition to training, we support our designers to showcase on international platforms and expand their retail and business profiles.”
Haroon’s collection was notable for the elegance of the designs and the wonderful color palette and detailing. The clothes somehow managed to look both classic and contemporary and it was easy to spot the influence of Whitney Houston in the designs and styling of the models. This was a triumph of a London debut for Haroon and her vision of strong, independent women who showcase their personalities through their style.


Lebanese blogger Nathalie Fanj braves the snow for her fashion fix in Paris

Nathalie Fanj at PFW'19. (Getty Images)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Lebanese blogger Nathalie Fanj braves the snow for her fashion fix in Paris

DUBAI: Lebanese influencer Nathalie Fanj is making quite the statement at Paris Couture Week as she sits on the coveted front row, enjoys the snow and braves the city’s cobbled streets in stilettos.

Although temperatures in Paris are hovering around the zero mark, the style maverick isn’t letting the cold weather stop her from putting on a show of her own.

She stepped out this week wearing an oversized yellow coat over an all-black outfit, paired with knee-high boots and a canary yellow bag.

That wasn’t the only look she has served so far, however, Fanj took to the streets of Paris in an on-trend plaid outfit in a shade of blue, which she matched with white lace-up boots and heavy, cobalt blue eyeshadow for a 1960s-inspired look.

The stylish blogger gave her 377,000 Instagram followers a peek at the glamorous Ralph & Russo show on Monday and then attended a show by Lebanese designer Rami Kadi, held on the sidelines of Paris Couture Week.

The influencer has been sharing picturesque photos of the city and even took to a Parisian garden to share a snapshot of the snow, which she captioned “so magical.”

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So magical

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The world’s leading couturiers have been showcasing their most extravagant designs during the fashion week that wraps up on Jan. 24.

For its part, Chanel showcased 18th century-inspired couture inside a sunlit Italian villa, but the headline-making point of the show was that head designer Karl Lagerfeld didn’t take his usual bow — the house said because the octogenarian designer was “tired.”

Other highlights of the collections on show on Tuesday include Givenchy’s runway lineup and Giorgio Armani’s classic couture, the Associated Press reported.

British designer Waight Keller, who had until 2017 never touched couture, produced a jaw-dropping collection for Givenchy on Tuesday evening that demonstrated a surprising mastery.
To moving operatic arias, diverse designs dipped into fresh creative explorations — all from the base-note of black.

Black latex leggings shimmered like an oil-slick to begin the collection and introduce a textural contrast against an elderberry-colored architectural bar jacket with one single white lapel. It looked like a bolt of lightning.

If a bolt of lightning was meant as a visual metaphor for the 42-piece collection, it was fitting.
Meanwhile, Giorgio Armani’s couture collection showed off the fashion icon’s famed cutting skills through tailored jackets.

The Armani Prive collection threw to the wind any real interest in evoking a spring/summer season, or a trend or any up-to-the-minute fad.

At the second of Tuesday’s double-shows, alongside Chanel, Armani Prive showcased a series of archetypically couture looks in the exclusive Hotel d’Evreux in the Place Vendome that made statements of their own with shimmer and bold color.

Billowing silken Asian-style pants shimmered below tops that contrasted in their color or texture — in checks, sequins or paillettes.

The designs could have featured in any of the designers shows of the last few years without looking out of place.

But as Yves Saint Laurent once said, “fashions come and go, style is eternal.”