Calling all budding fashion designers: s*uce boutique’s hugely popular and successful annual Design A Dress competition is now open. Could this be your chance to prove you’re the next Oscar de la Renta or Vera Wang? 

Each year the UAE-based boutique gives young creatives a chance to make their mark in the fashion industry with their Design A Dress competition in which burgeoning talents are given a theme and asked to make a dress within the set guidelines.

This year’s theme is Pink, a hue that has been incredibly prevalent on the catwalks and red carpet recently. To enter the competition, designers must download the guidelines from the s*uce website, here,  and submit the work and dress to s*uce in the Hood at Citywalk Mall by March 31.


So, the question you’re asking is, what do you win. Well, aside from the pride of having your design picked first, the winner will also get a consultation with TWO SCOOPS (s*uce’s distribution arm) to create and develop a new collection, to be sold exclusively at s*uce; Dhs2,000 to spend on new collection samples; a press release and sauceloves.com blog post announcing the winner and the collection at s*uce and a complementary course at the London College of Fashion in Dubai.

As if you need further impetus to start researching and designing, we spoke to last year’s winner Khushboo Kaplesh, whose coin-inspired collection is now stocked at s*uce. Here the 22-year-old reveals how winning the Design A Dress competition helped her in her fashion design career:

Tell us about your experience in fashion design: Since my university days, I’ve been involved in Dubai’s fashion scene, working at couture boutiques in Jumeirah. To gain international exposure, I interned for the coveted Dutch haute couture designer Iris Van Herpen in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The highlight was visiting Paris to represent Iris and showcase her handmade collection at Paris Couture week.

In January 2012, I launched my own label, Le Trousseau Couture, for which I’m currently serving as the creative director. Le Trousseau Couture specialises in creating masterfully crafted haute couture wedding and party dresses, with unique embroidery details of exquisitely fine Swarovski crystals and beads.

Describe your design that won last year’s Design A Dress competition: The inspiration behind my dress was the country of United Arab Emirates. Being born and brought up in the UAE I was able to use my experiences of this country as inspiration. I used the currency of the country as the medium to transform a simple dress into a stunning metallic dress. It is composed of coins of the country, having all known denominations present (25 fils, 50 fils, and Dhs1). Different mediums like, silver ‘zari’ thread, glass beads, matt sequences were also used to complete the embroidery.


Khushboo Kaplesh’s coin dress

What did it feel like to win? I was on top of the world. Winning was a big step for me in my career. I was very thankful to all the people who supported me.

What were your competitors like? I’d worked hard on the dress and given it my best, but when I was shortlisted in the Top 20, I had no idea people had participated in the competition from other Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait etc. That’s when I realised the competition wasn’t going to be easy.

How has your career changed since your win? As a result of my win, I have been able to produce my first ready-to-wear (RTW) line for s*uce. The entire s*uce team, especially Zayan, were very helpful and supported me throughout the process. I’ve learnt a lot of new things that I wouldn’t have in university or in couture line.

What did it feel like to have your creations stocked in s*uce? It was like a dream come true. I still remember, when I was in university, I would pass the boutique on Jumeirah Beach Road and wish I could sell there one day. That dream came true because of the wonderful opportunities s*uce gives every year with their Design A Dress competition to the upcoming young talents and creative minds.

What are your future design plans? I would like to continue and produce more RTW lines, which I can sell in my own boutique, in s*uce and by next year in more locations across the UAE. Also, I’d like to diversify into jewellery and handbag design. It’s something I’ve always been interested in.

Advice to this year’s Design A Dress competitors? I’m a firm believer of hard work. I believe that if you work hard it will always pay off at some point. So my advice would be not to worry about what others have to say to you, instead put your mind and energy into your work and let your designs/collections do all the talking.