Fashion Forward is back and, dare we say it, it’s had a bit of a hipster makeover. With new d3 digs, the endorsement of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council and our local design talent getting stronger with every collection, the event seems to have really found its voice.
If you didn’t get the chance to make it to the opening day of Fashion Forward Season 7, fear not. Here’s all you need to know from Day One…

Hi, Hai!

Upping sticks from its old home at Madinat Jumeirah, Fashion Forward has found a new, rather swanky, place to reside in Hai (neighbourhood in Arabic) in d3 and my,is it impressive. White cargo-esque containers surround the buzzy courtyards, wooden decking and paving slab walkways and it all adds up to be the cool new housing needed to represent its fresh perspective as a fashion week. Far more Dubai, in a nutshell.

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Read: Find Out About Fashion Forward’s New Venue

The 3 S’s

Namely, Swings, Snapchat and Sneakers. Blame it on the kid in us, but the set of swings filled us with joy (not to mention was the fodder for a thousand Instagrams). Bonus points if you managed to find the Pepsi-sponsored colour-pop one. As for the sneakers, they were as plentiful as the food here today (we’ll get onto that later) – a welcome signal that street style trends in Dubai are moving away from the uber-polished and more towards the embracing of something a bit, well, cooler. Lastly, if you hadn’t already heard, Snapchat has someone on the ground snapping the goings-on. This is the first time the platform has broadcasted from an international fashion week, meaning that millions of people globally will see our rising stars. Quite the coup for visibility.
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The Cold Shoulder

…But in a good way, obviously. The number one trend on and off the catwalk? Shoulder-exposing silhouettes – universally flattering, sexy yet still a little bit coy. Something that Deborah Nicodemus, CEO of Moda Operandi told us is one of the site’s biggest sellers, as pioneered by one of their most popular brands, Johanna Ortiz.
Jelena Bin Drai catwalk

Jelena Bin Drai catwalk

Fashion Forward Season 7 Taller Marmo

Taller Marmo catwalk

All Hail Hussein

One of the most exciting talents to be coming out of the region, Beirut-based, Elie Saab-trained Hussein Bazaza sent out an impeccable collection. Impressively accomplished for such a young brand, and proving that he was more than deserving of the awards he seems to be racking up at the moment. His panelled metallic cocktail dresses had brunch written all over them, and we even saw Mary Chaim, VP of Planning and Merchandising at Moda Operandi, snapping an embellished, white lace mini dress – perhaps a sign of a beautiful new partnership.

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Small Is Beautiful

Not necessarily a phrase you hear much in more-is-more Dubai, but we’re proclaiming the death of the back-breaking tote and a move towards the mini bag. Props go to Amanda Navai who was holding a graphic, mirrored triangular delight of her own design. Bijou is back.
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Hip, Hip, Hooray

Or hip, hip, hipster as the case may be. Alongside all the streetwear and sneakers we spotted, the Williamsburg vibe came across loud and clear via the plentiful food trucks (hi, Ghaf Kitchen!), salad-filled mason jars (Chez Charles) and even the Pepsi conveyor belt where the bottles came served in faux-authentic tin buckets. East London has arrived in the sandpit. It was only a matter of time…
Fashion Forward Season 7

The Big Boys

As mentioned, Moda Operandi were here for their first official scouting trip, telling us they were excited to see Amato and Bougessa. Buyers from Fenwick, Harvey Nichols Hong Kong, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in Paris and Neiman Marcus in the USA also attended, pulling in the kind of international clout that Fashion Forward has been after since it began seven seasons ago.
Fashion Forward Season 7

Taller Marmo Made Us Proud

Who knew a few camel prints would be enough to pull on our heartstrings quite so? We fell head over heels for the duo’s love letter to the desert – a witty riff on sportswear and tailoring. We spy a cult collection.
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Images: Farooq Salik and Getty