In its opening flourish, Shop Qatar 2020, organised by Qatar National Tourism Council, delivered a day replete with fashion highs, redeeming itself from the some-hit-mostly-miss lineups. It was a day for couture and bridal design, mixing in the old guard with the new, bringing forth statements that managed to set that elusive fashion bar high. Talking about highs the show opened with Naja Saade’s impeccably crafted blingy line and ended with couturier Taoufik al- Hassan’s artistic, breathtaking ode to futuristic fashion. Sandwiched in the middle was a range of some designers who each held their own, staying true to their signature, dabbling with bling, structure and exquisite hand embroideries.
But sadly, not all of day’s fashion offerings were exciting. As those of us who frequent the fashion week circuit know all too well, couture bling can go awry so easily. Crystals and pearls drooped onto the runway in a certain showcase; in others, colours clashed and cutwork meshed uncomfortably with texture and every embroidery under the sun was seen as some of fashion’s hottest name fumbled and faltered.
Zooming in on the fashion, here’s what we loved on the runway:
This was the designer’s first show in Doha for the season and it highlighted the designer’s unmistakable flair for fashion. His bridal designs set the bar high as he presented his couture line that was sometimes head-turning and sometimes loud. The collection was constructed in low necklines, volume and anglicised luxe very well and this, in essence, is why he designs it with such ease. His cuts and finishes are impeccable, making her a hot-seller in the very limited — but affluent – party-going milieu.
Far from the madding (only wedding-bound) crowd, Naja also, opted to think ‘winter ball’. With his characteristic sophisticated ethos, he dealt out bling in glamorous doses over figure-flattering jumpsuits, short dresses, cocktail gowns, skirts, capes and flowing tunics cinched at the waist. A collection that took a Velvet in deep tones was her fabric du jour as well as a delicious silk print, with swirls of multicolours. The collection made a smooth transition from black to red to green to yellow and to pink — long net chiffon sleeves taking the cut. Concerning his wedding wear, applique and lace work dominated the runway with neckline not too deep yet haute for the new age bride.
FAO by Fahad al-Obaidly
Fahad’s monochromatic collection was more urban than it’s been of late, blending the return of tradition in pinstripes and glen plaid with activewear yet chic component. Hello, world: cuban shirt and shorts with a gown are the It combination. The key looks in thiscollection were, absolutely, the jackets: Notch-lapeled, inner lining with bold check print, barely-padded jackets were cut to angle jauntily downward from the back of the skirt down to the front when worn open. The pants below were belted high, generously pleated, and tapered toward the ankle. Around these keystone tailoring pieces Fahad charted an entertaining enough course through his vision of luxury urban casualwear. To transcend barriers is a tall order, but FAO’s designs are powerful in the emotion they convey. Do you want pieces from his collection? Of course ... you want all of them ... and now!
Quite tangential to Naja’s finery was Amgad’s well-cut, refreshingly young vibe. Treating crepe and raw silk, the designer rocked a line of ruffled, overlapping, capes and dresses. These were absolutely winter must-haves and are bound to sell like hot cakes when the business-savvy brand shortly brings them to their stores. A leg peek-a-boo here and body fitted gowns there – the designer just knew where to stop and create an impact with feathers and capes dominating the collection. Tassels were swirling around and slits were high just like the the cohesive collection the designer showcased. He’s known for a flair for flou, a term that in the haute couture lexicon defines an ethereal, diaphanous silhouette achieved through a free-flowing cutting technique, especially when his 70% clientele is from Qatar. In his Shop Qatar collection, he evolved his approach, moving away from his comfort zone and trying his hand at a more structured look. Apparently, young customers appreciate the high-impact attitude that a shapely, sculptural dress can give. Sensuality, lighteness and freshness – a spirit we felt in his choice of colours. That powder blue was a winner!
Ahmed is a designer who has grown from strength to strength, showing frequently at fashion weeks and building his market. More than anything else, his collection exemplified his flair for playing with metallics. Bling bling and tightly fitted full length gowns was a proof that nothing can hold back this Tunisian designer when it comes to handwork and zip-line sexy pieces; some fully embellished and some in block plain silk taffetas. And party dresses they were. In a largely subdued palette of champagne, silvery blue, and gold with just a hint of silver, each look was beaded, bejewelled, feathered, and wrapped in the painstinkingly detailed arrangements that made up embroideries; as each dress passed you could almost envision the haute vintage fabrics that would’ve inspired them. It was also interesting to consider the necklines and sexy backless dresses in the context of the collection’s muses. A cocktail dress to die for as tassels fizzles around the perfectly tailored couture. Another gown was even more painstakingly embroidered with tiny silvery-gray caviar beads, well when I say it, I mean it – it was just the start of how embellishments are done with the notch glamorous presentation — and then came a dress that I knew I had seen before in the previous season collection, well almost.
After Fahad al-Obaidly the designer who lifted the fashion with a futuristic approach and edgy cut-lines was Taoufik. Unbashful and statement pieces. There were digital prints playing with light and shadow, 3D florals hand-stitched into Baroque elements, militant jackets and capes and gothic black, treated with feathers and layered with gold and glitter. Every detail had a story of its own. Popping colours, the prints, particularly, were unique, playing out in swirls and splatters. Taoufik’s spin on fashion included dresses cinched with belts, Chinese prints with foil detailing, horizontal zippers putting together stripes and quirky cut-out metal rings. It was all quite well thought-out and cohesive – and it all clearly bore the designer’s signature. The jump suit in velvet paired with deep pink embroidery stole the show and so did the tangerine dress that makes us caterwaul – orange is the new black baby!
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