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Award spotlights on UAE fashion designers

posted on 19/07/2015: 1876 views

On July 22, Dubai will host the India, Pakistan and Middle East edition of the International Woolmark Prize, which UAE-based fashion designers say represents Dubai's arrival on the world stage of design.

Launched in 1953, the Woolmark Prize is designed to recognise the work of outstanding designers around the globe. Past winners have included some of the biggest names in the fashion industry, including French designer Yves Saint Laurent and German Chanel-designer Karl Lagerfeld.

The upcoming Dubai edition will include 11 nominees drawn from India, Pakistan, Lebanon and the UAE, each of which will present sketches of six outfits, with one fully produced and ready to be worn. The winner will then go on to compete in the Woolmark Prize finals in Florence and New York City in 2016.

One of the nominees, Emirati designer Budreya Faisal - who developed an interest in fashion while studying car design in Italy - said she has noticed the rapid growth of Emirati design talent in the last several years.

"It's made a big difference having designers from the UAE and residents of the UAE being designers, as opposed to everything being imported," she said. "Previously there was no Emirati talent in fashion design, but that's changed completely."

"That's brought in all the other factors of fashion, whether its consultancies or suppliers," she added. "Dubai has become kind of the hub in the Middle East."

Notably, Faisal - who specialises in designer abayas - said she draws her inspiration from the local culture and traditions of the UAE.

"My inspiration I always get from here, and I just add to it with a signature twist or a signature look for my label," she said. "But I always get my inspiration from Dubai, from the markets specifically. Sometimes I travel all around the world, from Turkey to Paris, looking for inspiration, and it only hits me when I walk through the markets of Dubai."

Another contestant, 23-year-old Italian designer Yago Goicoechea, who owns brand Malmo Taller and is based in Dubai, said the Emirate's youthful spirit was a major factor for him when he decided to relocate operations to the UAE.

"Dubai is young and there are lots of opportunities. The industry is more open. It gives you access to things that in Milan would take you three times the time to achieve something," he said.

Goicoechea added that he hopes UAE-based designers can collectively work to further cement Dubai's place in the world of fashion.

"For the design industry, we have to work all together to make a new contemporary identity," he said. "That will help us differentiate from places like Milan, Paris, London or New York."

Both designers noted that the government of Dubai is supportive of their efforts. "I think the government is investing a lot of time and money," he said. "We as fashion designers, fashion editors and fashion journalists have to work together for that."

For her part, Faisal noted that those interested in design can count on the government's support.

"In the UAE we have the most incredible support," she said. "Get formal training and don't be afraid to ask for help." – Khaleej Times -


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