Ringing in Pakistani bridal week with wedding bells

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Designer Gold by Reama Malik joined forces with veteran designer Wasim Khan.
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Ali Xeeshan has fans across Pakistan.
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Ali Xeeshan is known for his creativity.
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Ali Xeeshan is known for his creativity.
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Fahad Hussayn's outfits were a hit.
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Fahad Hussayn's outfits were a hit.
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Designer Gold by Reama Malik joined forces with veteran designer Wasim Khan.
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Miska Lahkani wowed the crowd.
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A piece by Nickie Nina.
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An outfit by Sana Safinaz.
Updated 18 October 2017

Ringing in Pakistani bridal week with wedding bells

LAHORE: Pakistan has two seasons — the summer and wedding season. Both influence fashion trends in the country, with the summer catwalks boasting cool, comfortable clothing and the wedding season runways offering attention-grabbing outfits fit for a princess.
The country’s booming fashion industry puts a great deal of effort into dressing wedding-goers for the events that litter the social calendars of many across Pakistan. A large leg (or two) of the fashion industry in the country is dedicated to all things bridal couture and this year, the Pakistan Fashion Design Council (PFDC) put on their seventh annual Bridal Week in collaboration with L’Oréal Paris (PLBW).
On Oct. 14, the three-day event kicked off at the Nishat Emporium in Lahore. Orchestrated by Mustang Productions, a UK-based production house, the event saw a significant boost in energy and excitement from its previous iterations. The event was also marked by an impressive attention to detail that is usually only found on the runways of non-bridal fashion.
Designers flaunted their creations on the runways in a manner that shook up the bridal industry. Weddings, being so ingrained in the Pakistani psyche, are notoriously difficult to breath fresh air into, but these designers succeeded.
Jewelry played a major role in the showcase of bridal wear, with designer Gold by Reama Malik linking arms with veteran designer Wasim Khan to unleash upon the waiting audience a show that was missing the one thing every bridal offering had — overwhelming embroidery.
The first night saw internationally-recognized Ali Xeeshan show off his colorful creations, which were inspired by destination weddings, in a showcase that was reminiscent of an art installation. The show featured massive portraits of frequent collaborators, including revered fashion photographer Abdullah Harris, that only the master of runway dramatics could pull off.
Night two brought out fantastic presentations from Mahgul, who has grown a cult following for her designs that utilize traditional techniques to out create sensible modern outfits. Similarly, Misha Lakhani and Sania Maskatiya, whose trademarks lay in their expert (however different) approach to cutting and designing for women’s bodies, also wowed the crowd. The night opened with a solo show by Sana Safinaz, which tied together the increasingly common mix of Eastern and Western aesthetics strewn throughout the wedding wear industry. Geometric embellishments, feather accents and figure-hugging cuts easily melded into the collection that included intricate, layered bridal wear.
Night three featured the best of bridal couture and also kept fans on their toes with appearances by superstar entertainers such as Fawad Khan, Sajal Ali and Maya Ali, who played a show stopper for the king of color, Nomi Ansari. The finale was a well thought out production by Fahad Hussayn, whose collection managed to seamlessly place darks and neutrals hand-in-hand with bright hues, like crimsons and pinks.
In the West, fashion and wedding wear do not usually mix. A separate bridal fashion week exists outside the fashion calendar catering to buyers and the bridal world at large, but in Pakistan, that distinction does not exist. With winters that go and come in the blink of an eye, there is not a strong need for a wardrobe to battle the elements. Additionally, the consumers of fashion often find their weekends (and week nights) booked with wedding prep, pre-wedding festivities, events in the double digits, the big days themselves and, of course, post-wedding festivities that call for clothes fit for the occasion.
Other fashion weeks in Pakistan — the spring shows held by the Lahore-based PFDC and the Karachi-based Fashion Pakistan Council — usually end up having a sprinkling of wedding wear thrown in too, but this year was a high point for the specially-dedicated week.
If it was the pinnacle of the bridal wear mountain that has been built over the past seven years, we can only imagine how much bigger — and better — it will be in the years to come.


What We Are Wearing Today: Claw Socks

Updated 06 February 2021

What We Are Wearing Today: Claw Socks

  • The brand has launched a new collection inspired by popular outdoor activities inside the Kingdom

Claw Socks is a modern line of clothing from creative Saudi designers. The brand offers high-quality socks made of comfortable natural materials such as cotton and bamboo fabrics.
It has unique arty collections featuring food, animals, nature and famous characters, among others.
One collection features Saudi heritage designs with themes such as shemaghs, Arabic coffee cups, camels, incense, and ouds. It also features traditional Arabic sayings from all over the Kingdom.
The brand has launched a new collection inspired by popular outdoor activities inside the Kingdom. It offers the ideal look for your next road trip as it displays seven marvelous designs inspired by the mountains of Saudi Arabia, hiking, bikes and adventures.
The website also offers gift baskets, boxes, bouquets or cards in different themes. You can select several socks to send to your friends and loved ones.
For more information visit: https://try-claw.com/
 


Five-day fashion bootcamp to promote Saudi talent, entrepreneurs

Updated 14 January 2021

Five-day fashion bootcamp to promote Saudi talent, entrepreneurs

JEDDAH: A virtual bootcamp aimed at promoting entrepreneurial talent in Saudi Arabia’s fledgling fashion industry has opened for applicants.
The Kingdom’s Fashion Commission launched the second phase of its incubation program as part of an initiative to boost cultural entrepreneurship in the country with the support of the Quality of Life scheme.
One of 11 commissions established by the Ministry of Culture, the Fashion Commission’s program will run a series of workshops from Feb. 28 until March 4 addressed by top academic speakers, thought leaders, Saudi business figures, and international institutions involved in the fashion sector.
Virtual bootcamp participants will learn how to develop their business projects, network, build partnerships, assess the market, and benefit from prototypes to cost-effectively bring their ideas to fruition.
The program’s first-phase fashion hackathon started on Thursday and will run for three intensive days. Phases three and four will be announced over the coming weeks.
The fashion hackathon will see 150 participants — chosen from 1,500 applications — divided into 33 teams compete to win a five-day trip to the Milan Fashion Week.

Designer, Layla Moussa photographed by Dirk Bader for Vogue Arabia June 2018. (Photo courtesy: Vogue Arabia)

HIGHLIGHT

One of 11 commissions established by the Ministry of Culture, the Fashion Commission’s program will run a series of workshops from Feb. 28 until March 4 addressed by top academic speakers, thought leaders, Saudi business figures, and international institutions involved in the fashion sector.

Saudi fashion designer and founder of luxury brand Hindamme, Mohammed Khoja, told Arab News that the ministry backed program would help to give fashion talent access to business partners, intensive practical learning, and mentors.
“Programs such as this are vital in being able to build up the industry and in connecting the dots,” he said.

Designer, Arwa Al Banawi. Photographed by Dirk Bader for Vogue Arabia June 2018. (Photo courtesy: Vogue Arabia)

He pointed out that the fashion industry was still very new to the Kingdom and had not received the support it needed, which was why such programs were so important in helping to grow the sector.
“Within the Saudi fashion industry, we still face a number of challenges mainly due to this industry being relatively new and lacking structure.
“This program will support designers and prospective investors to find mutual benefits and offer clearer pathways for careers in the rapidly growing fashion industry in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Applicants have until Jan. 18 to register for the fashion bootcamp via https://engage.moc.gov.sa/fashion_bootcamp.


Five-day fashion bootcamp to promote Saudi talent, entrepreneurs

Updated 14 January 2021

Five-day fashion bootcamp to promote Saudi talent, entrepreneurs

JEDDAH: A virtual bootcamp aimed at promoting entrepreneurial talent in Saudi Arabia’s fledgling fashion industry has opened for applicants.
The Kingdom’s Fashion Commission launched the second phase of its incubation program as part of an initiative to boost cultural entrepreneurship in the country with the support of the Quality of Life scheme.
One of 11 commissions established by the Ministry of Culture, the Fashion Commission’s program will run a series of workshops from Feb. 28 until March 4 addressed by top academic speakers, thought leaders, Saudi business figures, and international institutions involved in the fashion sector.
Virtual bootcamp participants will learn how to develop their business projects, network, build partnerships, assess the market, and benefit from prototypes to cost-effectively bring their ideas to fruition.
The program’s first-phase fashion hackathon started on Thursday and will run for three intensive days. Phases three and four will be announced over the coming weeks.
The fashion hackathon will see 150 participants — chosen from 1,500 applications — divided into 33 teams compete to win a five-day trip to the Milan Fashion Week.

HIGHLIGHT

One of 11 commissions established by the Ministry of Culture, the Fashion Commission’s program will run a series of workshops from Feb. 28 until March 4 addressed by top academic speakers, thought leaders, Saudi business figures, and international institutions involved in the fashion sector.

Saudi fashion designer and founder of luxury brand Hindamme, Mohammed Khoja, told Arab News that the ministry backed program would help to give fashion talent access to business partners, intensive practical learning, and mentors.
“Programs such as this are vital in being able to build up the industry and in connecting the dots,” he said.
He pointed out that the fashion industry was still very new to the Kingdom and had not received the support it needed, which was why such programs were so important in helping to grow the sector.
“Within the Saudi fashion industry, we still face a number of challenges mainly due to this industry being relatively new and lacking structure.
“This program will support designers and prospective investors to find mutual benefits and offer clearer pathways for careers in the rapidly growing fashion industry in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Applicants have until Jan. 18 to register for the fashion bootcamp via https://engage.moc.gov.sa/fashion_bootcamp.


Registration for 2nd phase of Saudi culture ministry fashion program begins

Updated 13 January 2021

Registration for 2nd phase of Saudi culture ministry fashion program begins

RIYADH: Registration for the second phase of the Ministry of Culture’s Fashion Incubation Program began on Tuesday.
It is designed to uncover, support and promote local creatives and entrepreneurs in the fashion sector.
The registration process will continue until Jan. 18 via https://engage.moc.gov.sa/fashion_bootcamp.
The program will start on Feb. 28 and continue until March 4.
The first phase starting from Jan. 14 is a three-day virtual “fashion hackathon,” which, according to the ministry’s website, will see participants split into small groups to “solve some specific challenges in the field within a short period of time.”
The winners will receive a five-day trip to Milan Fashion Week. The second phase is a “boot camp” — a five-day virtual event focused on fashion and entrepreneurship that will help participants to develop their ideas, network, and receive guidance from top fashion professionals.
The third phase — Is a longer-term incubator providing participants with the guidance and support necessary to “establish foundations and help them strengthen their product.”
 


The Saudi fashion designer inspired by her bedouin roots in AlUla

Updated 11 December 2020

The Saudi fashion designer inspired by her bedouin roots in AlUla

  • Jeddah-born Lama Al-Bluwi’s yearning for her heritage has found expression in a remarkable collection
  • Hand-drawn portraits printed on local fabrics in modern cuts speak to her family’s bedouin roots in AlUla

DUBAI: Growing up in Saudi Arabia’s coastal metropolis of Jeddah, Lama Al-Bluwi always felt somehow detached from her family’s bedouin roots in AlUla far to the north. Now her yearning for this rich cultural heritage has found expression in a remarkable fashion collection, which melds the traditional fabric designs of her ancestors with the latest modern trends.

Young Saudis across the Kingdom are looking deep within their own heritage for inspiration, and Al-Bluwi is no exception. The 23-year-old’s prizewinning collection debuted last winter, just months after she graduated in fashion design from Jeddah’s Dar Al-Hekma University.

“My inspiration was mainly bedouin heritage and I tried to depict heritage in a more fashionable and modern way,” Al-Bluwi told Arab News. A college prize for the Most Creative Fashion Collection motivated her to enter her designs for AlUla Season — a festival celebrating local creativity.

Born and raised in Jeddah, Al-Bluwi remembers traveling to the family’s farm in AlUla every winter while growing up. (Supplied)

What makes Al-Bluwi’s work distinctive are the hand-drawn portraits of the bedouin that she prints onto local fabrics, making her coats, jackets, crop-top hoodies and oversized T-shirts an instant hit on Instagram among customers tired of the more predictable high-street fare.

“I have always drawn bedouin portraits, so I mixed all my ideas to present a fashionable collection for my senior collection and my senior project at university,” she said.

Born and raised in Jeddah, Al-Bluwi remembers traveling to the family’s farm in AlUla every winter while growing up. She recalls with fondness the warmth of the local community and the proud culture of the bedu — nomadic Arabs who inhabit the region’s desert expenses. “I find something real in them and that sense of being, of authenticity and of realness inspires me,” she said.

“The simplicity of their life is what fascinated me. I find them very hardworking and very inspiring people in so many ways. They are very generous, and I love that. The way they appreciate their heritage is really touching and they find a lot of pride in where they come from.”

What makes Al-Bluwi’s work distinctive are the hand-drawn portraits of the bedouin that she prints onto local fabrics

AlUla is host to a breathtaking ancient walled city, packed with historic mud-brick and stone houses. Situated in the Madinah region of northwestern Saudi Arabia, it is also home to the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage site — the 2,000-year-old Nabataean wonder of Hegra, also known as Mada’in Saleh. Given AlUla’s increasing prominence as an archeological landmark on the Middle East tourist trail, the local population is naturally proud of their history and culture.

Despite the annual visits to her ancestral home, Al-Bluwi's childhood and early education in Jeddah left her feeling far removed from her heritage. Curious about her roots and eager to look beyond the cultural bubble of “the Jeddah scene” as she calls it, Al-Bluwi delved deeper into her origins.

This personal journey soon found creative expression. After an initial interest in the fine arts, encouraged by a love of sketching and family trips to European museums, Al-Bluwi discovered her passion for fabrics.

Fashion designer Lama Al-Bluwi’s creations salute her AlUla roots, above and inset, while hand-drawn portraits of bedouin, below, are a hit among customers. (Supplied)

“I used to beg my mother to go with me to a museum,” she recalled. “None of my family was interested but I made them go and they loved it, but I was the one who initiated it.”

And although AlUla and bedouin heritage form the foundation of her work, her designs were also influenced by a dash of Japanese culture, particularly the concept of wabi-sabi — the art of imperfection.

“Everything that is raw and imperfect is perfect, rather than being polished,” she said. “That was my main concept. When you see my garments, you will notice that the seams are inside out, and the edges are raw. I implemented the imperfections in my designs.”

A love of “weird, imperfect things” motivated her research. “I don’t like seeing something polished, so I started to go into the history of imperfection, and I came across this Japanese philosophy,” she said. “I read more about it, researched it and found it amazing.”

Lama Al-Bluwi's yearning for AlUla's rich cultural heritage has found expression in a remarkable fashion collection. (Supplied)

Al-Bluwi says there is no dearth of interest within Saudi Arabia in her creations, and many of her friends enjoy wearing them. “I love it when a product gives you a sense of identity or presents something to you,” she said.

At the same time, she hopes to make her mark beyond the Kingdom by spreading awareness of her culture and heritage near and far.

Despite the strain placed on small businesses and the fashion events calendar by the coronavirus pandemic, Al-Bluwi says her business is blossoming, with growing interest from abroad. “That people from other cultures find (my collection) interesting made me very happy,” she said.

Lama Al-Bluwi's designs were also influenced by a dash of Japanese culture. (Supplied)

Catering for an international client base will not only help Al-Bluwi build her brand but also broaden the global appeal and appetite for Saudi Arabia’s bedouin heritage.

“It is important for us as artists or designers to change our perspective on that,” she said, referring to an earlier reluctance to engage with the global marketplace. “We are doing that slowly, but a lot of people have seen my collection, so we are going in the right direction.”

Although she has missed out on promotional events this year, the pandemic has given Al-Bluwi time to hone her skills and to learn from others in Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning fashion industry. “I have learnt that it is very important to have a really good platform or website where everyone can see your work, and not be over-depend on events,” she said.

Young Saudis across the Kingdom are looking deep within their own heritage for inspiration. (Supplied)

With the Saudi government investing heavily in young entrepreneurs as part of its Vision 2030 economic diversification plan, Al-Bluwi is excited to see more designers spread their wings.

“I’m so happy to be alive at this time in Saudi Arabia. What they’re doing here is beautiful. They are supporting us in so many ways — not just in fashion but in a lot of sectors in the country,” she said.

“It’s a lovely thing to see. It makes us push ourselves even more in the best way possible and it makes me proud of all our talent because we truly all drive each other.”

Twitter: @CalineMalek

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world
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