Fashion takeover

Raiding the fashion scene in the region and beyond, there’s never been a more exciting time for Middle Eastern designers to make their mark.

There are certain qualities that Arab designers seem to have in common. They are extremely proud of their heritage, they are determined to educate the global audience through the modern way they pay tribute to it, and their preservation of traditional craft.

Despite Arab fashion being associated with glamorous eveningwear and intricate couture, the new generation are looking to streetwear – think Arwa Al Banawi’s slick approach blended with her Saudi heritage – and contemporary separates that are appealing to international shoppers, including celebrities. SemSem can count Blake Lively, Olivia Palermo, and Gigi Hadid as firm fans, while Dubai-based Bouguessa has been snapped up by international influencers and actress Kristen Bell.

Meanwhile London-based Syrian designer Nabil El-Nayal has secured a grant from the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Trust that he will use to grow and develop the brand that focuses on a modern twist to Elizabethan craftsmanship. Elsewhere, we see visionary events like Fashion Forward Dubai providing another platform for regional talent establish their name and connect to their consumers and fans.

There is always talent to be discovered, and below we have gathered some of the names we will be keeping a particularly close eye on over the coming months.

Yousef Akbar


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Born in Saudi Arabia, Yousef Akbar’s brand is built on creating ethical and responsible couture and ready-to-wear garments that allow his customers to look and feel good. Akbar uses recycled materials and supports local artisans in small communities from the Middle East and around the world in his manufacturing process.



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Jordanian designer Haya Jarrar has based her edgy yet feminine label in Dubai only recently, but she has managed to accumulate a roster of local fans such as Jessica Kahawaty and Karen Wazen. After securing her fashion design degree she went on to work as a buyer before launching her debut Fall 2018 collection. She envisioned her woman as someone who is unapologetic about her style and wants to stand out, no matter her age.

Jeux de Mains


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Born and raised in Beirut, Salim Cherfane came into the fashion world by way of graphic design and art, which are distinctly present in his creations. He studied at L’Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts before showcasing his first collection in 2018. His ambition is to make people smile through his collages of bold colours, loud patterns and clean cuts, creating versatile ready-to-wear compositions that are graphic and fun. Oh, and Beyoncé is one of his fans.

Katrine Hanna


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While we scroll through the sold-out selection from Bottega Veneta, why not feast your eyes on equally fabulous creations from Dubai-based brand Katrine Hanna. Namesake label of an Australian-Lebanese designer, the piece are made to add some creative flair to your collection of footwear. Katrine likes to experiment with materials and colours, from elegant golden mules to shoes featuring the brand’s signature banksia seed heel.



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Focusing on delicate prints, wrap-around silhouettes, intricate detail consisting of pearls, the collection feels free-spirited yet will not look out of place in an urban setting. Using only natural fabrics such as silk and viscose, each item is made with comfort and breathability in mind. Headed up by Emirati businessman, Khaled Al Zaabi, and Spanish Creative Director Paula Quetglas-Llop – who has previously worked at Elie Saab – Niili is a brand that celebrates the culture of the Emirates and wants to share it with the rest of the world.

The Nou Project


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Founded by Saudi-born Nour Al Tamimi and her co-designer Lebanese-born Basma Chidiac, The Nou Project blends fashion and art. They let up-and-coming artists use their sneakers as a blank canvas to create limited quantities of pieces. The sneakers become numbered collectibles in support of artist recognition.



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Doa’a Alghouti launched her luxury-brand, Anatomi, in 2015 with an aim to decorate your wardrobe with modest and elegant pieces. Before pursuing fashion, Alghouti studied interior design and still looks to architecture for inspiration. She likes to experiment with redefined silhouettes, luxurious textiles, fresh colours and applying elements of modern couture to her designs. With comfort and timeless sensibility in mind, expect elements of tailoring and luxury throughout.

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