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Showstoppers: First impressions.

Ramp romping ahead of the Dubai Fashion Week (DFW)Pauline Forte meets four UAE-based designers who will showcase their collections at the event for the first time. Here's how the debutants plan to make a haute statement.

Huda Ridha

Origin: UAE

Brand name: Monyati

Huda Ridha and her partner Amna Sultan launched their abayas online just two months back.

And they're making their presence felt already. The duo will have the privilege of opening the Dubai Fashion Week.

"I hope the show gives us recognition and also encourage local talent," said 26-year-old Huda. Their 20-piece Spring/ 2009 collection of abayas is traditional, but has a contemporary feel.

Most of their pieces, including kimonos and sleeveless robes with bolero jackets, are in black. Their chiffon and cashmere silk abayas, however, are lined with vintage prints in bright colours and embroidery.

Huda's favourite piece is an off the shoulder abaya, with a thick golden embroidered neckline.

"One day, I'd like to have my own fashion brand a" like Chanel, but a Middle Eastern version of it"

Jenny Nicholson

Origin: Australia

Brand name: Jenny Rose Maternity, MyCozzie and Kilara

A resident of Dubai for 18 years, Nicholson, 40, is largely known for her maternity wear. But this year she is introducing her new Kilara collection of 52 kaftans, small ponchos, hooded jackets and duster coats with heavy beading.

"DFW is a great opportunity to showcase my collection to international buyers," she said.

Nicholson was contacted by a retail buyer at Atlantis, The Palm, to manufacture and design clothes for them. The success of the designs prompted her to launch her own collection a" a range of luxurious kaftans made of silks and silk georgette with bold colours and opulent prints and embroidery. Her favourite is a tangerine and turquoise kaftan with heavy beading.

Her third brand of resort and swimwear, MyCozzie, is sold at GOSports (Mall of the Emirates), Atlantis and Dreamland Aquapark, Umm Al Quwain. She has two stores in Dubai.

"The kaftans are very light because I believe they'll sell internationally. I can see them in St. Tropez, Ibiza and luxurious resorts"

Essa Bhagoorwalla

Origin: India

Brand name: Essa

In the haute couture business for around 10 years now, Bhagoorwalla is fairly popular in this part of the world, especially with the Middle Eastern female aristocracy.

The 37-year-old Indian designer specialises in colourful gowns, dresses and tops made of rich brocades, jacquards and chiffon as well as luxurious silks, satins and cottons mixed with every other fabric under the sun.

But he's never participated in a show before. Bhagoorwalla plans to make up for it with a new collection, Kawkab Al Sharq, inspired by legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.

"I imagined what she would wear if she'd been living in these times. Umm Kulthum represents sophistication and I love her signature hair and jewels," he said.

The use of celedon blue is new to Bhagoorwalla's collection. "It reminds me of something very old and aristocratic, but I have no loyalties to any particular colour," he said.

"I hope those who dress in my clothes, will be able to role play and feel the essence of Umm Kulthum"

Salma Khan

Origin: Pakistan

Brand name: Salma Khan Fashion House

Salma has been participating in fashion shows since 2003. Her creations have been featured at bridal shows in Dubai and Sharjah and also in Paris.

But it will be at the DFW where the 37-year-old reckons she will get the maximum exposure. And that will be because of the "presence of designers and buyers from different countries under one roof". Salma will unveil her collection of 35 evening gowns and dresses and is eager to find out how people will react to it.

She said her collection comprises mostly evening wear and is inspired by the elements of nature.

Many of the gowns come in shades of green and "butterfly" colours like pink with yellow, green with gold or silver beads and violet blue with golden embroidery.

The outfits are made of light and elegant fabrics such as French dentelle, chiffon, pure silks and taffeta.

"I'd like to see my designs displayed in places like Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Knightsbridge. And I wish my kids [three boys] were interested in fashion, but they're not"

Emerging talent

As part of the DFW, six designers who won the Splash Emerging Talent Contest will showcase their designs at the Godolphin Ballroom on October 7.

Dianne Consignado and David Manuel (David & Diane), Arisha Khan (AK), Homa Qamar (Homa Q), Surbhi Jaggi (IhbruS) and Rula Abu Qaoud were judged on the basis of creativity in their collection, selection and use of fabrics, use of accessories and presentation.

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 1, 2008
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