Qatar Tourism Authority is thinking ‘export’ for Qatari fashion but there is a long road ahead yet. So what better way to promote the fashion savvy than with an eight-day long fashion festival, with the country’s razzmatazz gliding along the runway, international designers standing side besides to the local fashion creators and a space to explore what Qatari fashion and its heritage have to offer.
Two skilled, exciting and international designers meshed in with a motley crew of local fashion labels made for a resounding start to eight days of ‘fashion forward’ activities of Shop Qatar’s Design District, it was a day of few lows and many highs. Bridal wear is desi fashion’s high point; it is to the sub-continent what couture is to the West – the most elaborate fantasy inspiring designers to go all out and it’s glorious to see them do just that. Traditional or modern? Long or short? Baroque embellishment or chic minimalism? Lace, jacquard or chiffon? The wed-worthy options can be as dazzling as they are overwhelming, but they are also romantic and exciting and on a whole new level of exquisite attention akin to that of couture. Where Abed Mahfouz featured his couture wedding gowns – flowing like a fluid with volume that could take over the world, Tarun Tahiliani was all about desi bridal wears with traditional cuts and silhouettes taking the centre stage. 

Abed Mahfouz
Abed offered a plentitude of options for brides-to-be in a tightly edited and pretty sublime collection made in all subtle tones – mostly white and nude pink that made a wonderful transition into black couture pieces. Although the structure and tailoring for the black silhouettes was all over the place but the white strapless, backless gowns were the right balance between sleek and dramatic with veils, and metallic threads for subtle shimmer. White net veils with subtle glitterati embellishments right on the borders were elegant, even if paired with any other tone of gown. Nothing too extravagant – except few pieces that were too gold, even for a party! Two of the most striking looks from Abed’s showcase were the most minimal: one a rich olive green number with a dramatic neckline and pants – more of a jump suit, the other a beige net silhouette, tailored to perfection with magnificent fullness and traditional embroidering making flower patterns. Well he did it right – he opened the show with this piece. Each line had its own high points: Abed Mahfouz’s crepe gowns with lace were unquestionably pretty, as were the taffeta ball gowns with bodices covered in flowers. The only thing that concerned everybody was every model tripping in all those voluminous couture pieces. Imagine opening the show and the model trips – and then trips every other model before here. Ridiculous right? Either the trails were too long or the dresses were too heavy! But you can’t blame the designer really, if it’s wedding couture wear it is supposed to be this grand. 
Tarun Tahiliani
Traditional cuts, heavily embellished dupattas, saris, pant saris and lehnga cholli - you name it and Tarun showcased. Apart from exquisitely crafted bridal womenswear pieces, Tarun also featured some menswear creations that caterwauled Maharaja and royal feels to it. Tarun brought traditional styles and contemporary cuts to his collection based on the regality of the Mughal era; worked in kora, dapka and lace work like a peek-a-boo for finishing – the bridal wear displayed a representation of the current bridal trend in terms of embellishment but in keeping with the needs of a more traditional bride. All those jasmine and crossandra garlands adorned with the tight hair buns was a vision, taking us back to the South Asian routes. The semi-formal clothes that came in was a more unique display and use of thread work with big, black motifs placed down the front of the kameezez provided linearity to the silhouettes. The ensemble was rich in culture Tarun was displaying as he offered modernity with sexy backless blouses, strapless heavily embellished gowns and sultry necklines. If you see Tarun’s pieces on a runway you’ll think how heavy they’ll be – in terms of weight - but they’re not. They are very light with fluid flowing silhoettes. Well that’s true for most of his pieces, except the last two – that featured traditional embroidery techniques with real craftsmanship, net dupattas and an inspiration drawing out from the Victorian era. Oh that royal pageantry.
Verdict: Both Abed and Tarun have a winning formula for perfect couture, silhouettes, simple, stylish, high end concept, easy to buy and gorgeous to wear. Never expect something minimalism or simple – when these two designers are the lineup.
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