Glimpses of the female only fashion show in Saudi Arabia. Finally, the first ever Arab fashion week brought models to the runway on Thursday, though models and designers had troubles getting travel visas alongside the organizers had to change venues to tents on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh.
The backstage area of the event were cramped and frenetic while makeup artists and hairstylists worked their magic on the mostly Russian & Eastern European models. While the designers made last-minute adjustments on their garments.
Lebanon’s Tony Ward and Bibisara from Kazakhstan showcased ultra-feminine gowns with long trains and an emphasis on sequins, feathers & beads. These dresses can be owned by Saudi women to wear in private because in public they wear black, loose-fitting, floor-length cloak called abaya.
No cleavage, nothing above the knee and nothing too transparent was seen at the show, even that the audience was female only.
Only the organizers were allowed to take pictures inside the tent and photos have to be cleared by govt censors before publication.
Lebanese designer Naja Saade stated that Saudi women have extravagant tastes and love lots of special details on their clothes, and love European style and handmade finishing.
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Jean Paul Gaultier the also participated in Saudi Arabia’s first Arab Fashion Week.
CEO of the Arab Fashion Council, Jacob Abrian, says Saudi princesses are the biggest collectors of haute couture on the globe.
With $400 ticket price, many seats were empty on the opening day and organizers did not release attendance numbers.
The list of designers include big names like Jean Paul Gaultier with most from Europe or the Middle East, along with some from Brazil or the US.
Several designers are from Saudi Arabia, including Arwa al-Banawi. Arwa al-Banawi’s designs, include women’s business suits, with a strong message about female empowerment.
Banawi as a designer wishes to make life easier for an independent woman juggling between her life, family, and is going to work.
The government of Saudi Arabia has recently taken strong steps to curb rampant corruption in the kingdom, including rounding up more than two hundred of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest and influential people alongside detaining them for about 3 months at the luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel.
Another fashion week is also on the way to be planned for this fall.
Riyadh is being hoped to be turned into a regional hub for fashion.