This weekend, I finally had the chance to catch up with the Middle East fashion platform showcase that is Fashion Forward (FFWD) Season Three. Brought by Founder and CEO Bong Guerrero, the FFWD was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 11 – 13, 2014. The talents are massive and the collections are VERY impressive, I have to say. Regional designers from past seasons are back, as well as new additions who added further fashion depth and diversity of fashion styles.

After glancing through all of the designers’ looks from those three days of impressive runway shows, I’d like to share my 6 favorite collections from FFWD: Starch Foundation’s Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek, Jean Louis Sabaji, Essa, House of Ronald, Zareena, and Amato by Furne One. From those six, I am most enamored with Jean Louis Sabaji’s collection and will make a separate blog post with showcasing almost all of his looks from his collection. But let’s get started, shall we?

Disclaimer for all photos used in this article:
Photos by Ian Gavan and Stuart Wilson/Courtesy of Getty Images via The Portsmouth Group.

Starch Foundation

Each seasons, the Starch Foundation presented chosen designers under the mentorship of Rabih Kayrouz to showcase their collection. This time, it’s Jo Baaklini and Timi Hayek’s turn to showcase their fun, youthful, and casual collections.

Jo Baaklini‘s debut collection immediately transports me to a beach-facing house veranda shielded from the sun, where I’m enjoying a cool glass of ice lemon tea and fresh watermelon slices. They’re simple yet refreshing thanks for the bold colors…and I suddenly wish for summer.

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Timi Hayek‘s Spring/Summer 2014 collection’s focus is very consistent throughout the slight look variations she presented. I like the digital prints of the tops and dresses, which are inspired by L’Apres midi d’un Faune, a 1912 dance performance by Les Ballets Russes. The pieces have a certain pretty girlish flow and Timi herself is the perfect girl for this collection.

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Jean Louis Sabaji

This is the first debut for the Lebanese couturier Jean Louis Sabaji, whose designs are primarily influenced by Mother Nature, yielding conceptual and daring pieces. Presenting a mesmerizing fusion of flowers, plants, and insects into the outfits, his collection is very visually arresting that I had such a hard time selecting a few favorite looks. From his 30+ looks, I perhaps did not like two of them. Sabaji’s collection is the FFWD collection that personally resonates most deeply with me, and therefore I’d like to share almost all of his looks on a separate blog post. However, from this post, you can see a glimpse of his brilliance of mixing and matching textures, colors, and shapes.

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This beloved Indian-born, UAE-based designer was voted “Designer of the Year” in 2011 and 2012 by Grazia. This season, his collection exudes bold luxury that mixes traditional and modern aesthetics. The use of fur, feathers, bold colors, the variety of textures and layers are fierce yet not overwhelming, suited for powerful, confident modern women in perfect control of their primal allures.

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House of Ronald

This Lebanese descent, London-born Ronald Abdala presented RTW pieces that have the right doses of sophistication and boldness. The close-to-body silhouettes are enriched with printed geometric bullet motifs and accessories. The architectural cuts are sharp and sleek, further emphasizing the “Bulletproof” theme of the collection. What a successful first FFWD debut!

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Also presenting her collection for the first time in FFWD, Zareena’s collection in STUNNING. This Indian designer has the much enviable knack of mixing luxurious fabrics in rich colors with the exquisite textures, embroidery, adornments, needlework, and various details, including the oversized turbans and french netting combo (genius!). Watching this collection is like seeing gorgeous family members of a sultan showing off their visually gripping, luxurious flowing gowns, one no less marvelous than the others. Well done.

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Amato by Furne One

Being the finale collection of FFWD’s third season, Amato by Furne One lives up to the hype and provides much to talk about after FFWD is over. The Dubai-based designer One showcased his natural ability to present extravagant and artistic talents once again. The impressive couture creations walking down the runway were inspired by Alexander the Great and his travels and conquests in Persia, India, and Egypt.

For me, if “300” is a fashion movie will all-female cast members, One shows us what the costumes for it should look like, including the gold one for Persian king Xerxes. The facial adornments are so extravagant that they almost stole the attention away from the french lace, tulle, sequins, crystals, and flowers used for the gowns, but at the same time they elevate the gowns to the next level of excellence.

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What an amazing showing by Fashion Forward in Dubai, and thank you for The Portsmouth Group for supplying the information about FFWD! This is just too amazing, I cannot wait to see what’s next is Fashion Forward Season Four :)

Thanks for reading, until next time,

Photos by Ian Gavan and Stuart Wilson/Courtesy of Getty Images via The Portsmouth Group

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