On the roofless top floor of the Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, more than 40 designers from 32 countries watched their models strut on the purple carpet for Dubai Modest Fashion Week (DMFW) last weekend. Their long walk started from the changing room at the tallest dome of the hotel before passing through two curves to reach the photographers’ station. The captivated audience could watch every step on two large screens placed at each curve.
“People are so service oriented, so helpful here. Everybody just comes to help me. It is really amazing.”
“I am surprised because I was expecting to see very boring black dresses, but there are a lot of trends, lots of fashion here,” said Anna Mashkovskaya, who had arrived from Spain on the day of the event.
“I think it is a very good mix to demonstrate Muslim people. It shows that Muslim women can also be very fashionable and very trendy.”
The theme of the second DMFW was to celebrate women’s empowerment, coinciding with International Women’s Day on March 8. The event also aimed to introduce the Fashion for Good rhetoric.
Think Fashion, established by two fashion entrepreneurs Franka Soeria and Ozlem Sahin, were the organizers.
Stewards kept a close watch on every exit and entrance of all the catwalk sessions. People had to sit in their designated area since there was a different admission queue for every section. Some were ushered from their seats if they were not sitting in their allocated sections.
“People did not know where they were going, and where they were exiting,” said Laila Rahhal Eltfani, founder and president of Business Gate.
“I am surprised because I was expecting to see very boring black dresses, but there are a lot of trends, lots of fashion here”
“But, I have to say that everything was done properly. For me, they have done what they had to do. It is their vision. I respect it.”
For the show Think Fashion was able to accomplish many milestones, including bringing together Muslims and non-Muslims designers dedicated to modest fashion wear.
“It is my first show in the Middle East. It is a different experience compared to Europe. People are so service oriented, so helpful here. Everybody just comes to help me. It is really amazing,” said Jacqueline Lees, creative director for Victoria Design of Estonia.
Presenting her first modest collection from Europe, Lees was mindful when picking designs.
“I’m not using much gold and jewelry and things like that. The colors are very clear, very modest. I tried to put together a mix of things so everybody could find a piece she liked.”
“To be honest, this show in Dubai, super challenging.”
The show was organized in various sections. Designers were in the spotlight with more than seven catwalks during the three-day event. Fifty-eight social media influencers and speakers tried to put the modest fashion phenomenon into context for a larger audience. And there were a few buyers at the show who were aiming to learn more about the designers and their brands.
“I am here to look at the pieces. Modest fashion is quite the hype over here. My target market expands to the Arab region. So, I am looking to expand it into that direction. I am hoping to meet with premier designers [ready to wear] so I can cater towards my audience,” said Stephanie Lohale, director for Stephanie Lohale Brand.
Soeria and Sahin have a clear vision. They want to give young and upcoming designers a global platform to become more visible. But the road they have taken presents lots of obstacles.
“To be honest, this show in Dubai, super challenging. I had so many nights where I couldn’t sleep. So many challenges. So, they were always unexpected issues that we had to deal with. For this particular show, it was super super hard,” said Soeria.
“People did not know where they were going, and where they were exiting.”
With the modest fashion market currently booming, Soeria hopes that young and low-budget designers can grow within the industry without losing out to big brands and corporations.
“God is great. Because we keep saying why we do this. It is for a good cause,” she said.
To see our coverage of Dubai Modest Fashion Week, please visit our Instagram and Facebook pages.