The fashion industry is reckoning itself at every level and the business’s most visible touchpoint, the fashion show, is also undergoing an entire revamp of its own. Faced with the necessity of translating fashion to a digital format, the Qatar National Tourism Council, following the route and level set by London, Paris or Milan Fashion Week’s digital edition, and in collaboration with United Development Company (UDC), recently organised Qatar’s first virtual fashion show — and it did live up to its puffery, with a few first-time glitches of course, like no background music in the YouTube live but that’s completely understandable when everything at large has just started to shape up. Mapping out how to marry the pomp and circumstance of a fashion show with the high-speed chill of the internet is still unknown, although fashion critics worldwide do review collections based on pictures or high-quality videos, but missing the catwalk physically is just an expected notion; it seems absence does make the heart grow fonder. The coronavirus came along just when spring was unfolding upon the country, and none of the events — including the plugged Fashion Trust Arabia — set to showcase the latest seasonal trends and bring about some new fresh air of fashion connoisseurs could take place.
We missed the buzz, which may have been hard to find in recent times. We missed the fashion on the catwalk and off it and the opportunity to meet with the fraternity, for three or four days in a row. We also missed the excuse to get dressed up and go out for the night. 
As a fashion critic, I personally missed pulling all-nighters, assisted by big cups of coffee that I usually get from a café near my house while on my way back from the fashion infused night, reviewing one show after the other. While writing about the gruesome collections is never fun, there is a certain high that I get when I wax lyrical about clothes that are utterly beautiful, a show that is standout or a brilliant new designer who has all the makings of becoming the next big thing. While we wish that the coronavirus ends soon and we’re back to sitting side by side, gazing at the catwalk, one day after the other, there is also honestly so much that organisers are putting in to bring fashion weeks and shows home, and they are also successful at some level. The biggest pro to digital shows: the timings. This one’s a no-brainer. One of the most irritating aspects of attending a fashion week is that the show, officially supposed to start at a sedate 8 pm almost always begins an hour or a half later, with quite some breaks in between but digitally it’s all in a one go — no waiting, just fashion. So, where we miss the catwalk in physical, the digital takes over and caterwauls its lead and pros. Here’s what went down the catwalk, or this time if I must ‘our laptop screens’!

The show opened with a checked gold yellow power suit with black lining, followed by a cheeky number of green silhouette over-sized top paired with a bright pink tights, a trimmed frill chiffon tulle cocktail dress in baby pink and then a couple of high-street menswear pieces. Nothing seemed to be cohesive, neither a particular theme for the collection was put forward. But individually every look had something edgy and if paired separately would make an outstanding outfit. Using cotton, denim and a variety of silks to create structured silhouettes in primitive basic colours it was a high-street retail collection and if you intend making a statement, these pieces will make you stand out all right — only if you get your styling and aesthetics game on! 

Per Lei Couture
Per Lei’selaborately pieced tailoring and body-hugging tafetta spliced onto nude tulle—also did star turns. The pace picked up even further in the last piece in which nude bedazzled top with lemon yellow skirt morphed-together fluorescent chiffons and a statement belt in a hotly contested dash around the room. It was modern, sleek and all about silhouette frills that caterwauled feminine appeal. It was here more effortless-looking couture outings – that is, managed to keep supersize volumes down with some ready to wear twist. Va Va Voom!

The Project
The most powerhouse collection of the day! They maintained its signature loud and brash style, bringing novelty and even bigger lustre to their trademark with bigger bling on their edgy outfits on the ramp and oversized fabric on menswear that was allowed to turn, swing and flow just like a silhouette is supposed to. Whether he/she is clad in denim or leather or a little buzz of feathers – the collection was all about standing out and shining, like anything in the world. Neon dashes here and there with capes on layers, block colours, fuss free and a little PVC body fitted statement — this has to be the winner. The bubble wrap coat was loud — the modern twist to the otherwise boring outfit. The Project is here to stay and is very welcome!

It’s a haute couture season. There were many dreamy dresses in this collection: a trio in golden bling chiffon that wrap around the body, tethered by discreet micro-pleating; a black on black gown who’s inner lining was just enough in length to see the embroideries in detail — constructing shimmers on the legs; and black white and grey sequins silhouette that didn’t cinch at the waist too much and still had a perfect flow to the fabric. The power pink with the cape was a proof that there was a deliberate bling the proceedings — literally, in the choice of fabrics and handwork and guess what, it worked. The entire collection seemed to be 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.

Youssef al-Jasmi
For his haute couture collection, it was all crystals and blings in general that intrigued this Kuwaiti designer. Bling bling and tightly fitted full length gowns was a proof that nothing can hold him back when it comes to handwork and zip-line pieces; some fully embellished and some in simple choice of fabrics paired with metallic threads — nothing revealing, no deep necklines, over the top backs and hemlines of old-school agendas. The result looked like some sort of exotic fish-in the most flattering possible way. Months and months in the planning, we’re sure, and the statement full length radiating silver gown was decorated with crystals to catch the light and arrayed in the exact same pattern – fabric fizzling around the perfectly tailored couture. 

Open, closed, fitted, flowy, oversized abayas with little intricate colour details here and there, sometimes collar, sometimes checks on sleeves and the lining of hijab; the collection was fuss free, embellishment free, naturally neutral and utilitarian. The favourite piece ought to be the black and white one — for how effortlessly and in block white paired with black and formed a statement. A busy sophisticated route for the modern women of Qatar.
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