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Fashion Forward partners with Dubai Design District for Season 3

It’s all happening in Dubai as far as fashion is concerned. At the official announcement for Season 3 of Fashion Forward (FFWD), the fashion week-style showcase in Dubai, organisers on Sunday announced the involvement of the Dubai Design District (d3) as an official partner.

“We’ve been watching them over the first two seasons and were very impressed with what they’ve achieved. So we thought this is the right time for us to get involved,” said Dr Amina Al Rustamani, the Group CEO of Tecom Investments, the developer behind the Dh4 billion project, which, when complete, plans to be the official home for the design and fashion industry.

“We are committed to elevate FFWD to the next level and enhance it,” she said, adding that the city of Dubai has a vested interest in the fashion sector due to its link to tourism. “From our market research, we’ve seen that people who come here for the fashion are interested in seeing things that are unique to this place. That’s why we are here to partner with FFWD, to give a platform for the designers in the region to be recognised.”

A total of 18 designers from the region will showcase at the four-day FFWD, which will kick off on April 10 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The list includes 11 designers who will make their debut at the event and seven returning designers, including celebrity favourites Furne One and Ezra Santos, as well as students from the Starch Foundation, the programme run by Paris-based Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz.

Former British model and TV presenter Alexa Chung will attend and take part in a question and answer session as part of the event’s ‘d3 Fashion Talks’ series. Fern Mallis, the woman credited with creating the New York Fashion Week, will also give a talk called ‘Fashion Week: Going Forward?’ while Ennio Capasa, the creative director of Italian fashion brand Costume National, will discuss the concept behind his hit label.

Mentorship programmes by organisations such as London College of Fashion, design institute Domus Academy from Italy and New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology will also be part of the roster.

Despite the absence of official figures, FFWD founder and CEO Bong Guerrero said it was still early days, but the fashion industry is slowly and steadily coming to its own.

“We know that fashion consumerism is extremely high. It is such a formidable market that we need events such as FFWD as a visibility project for our regional designers, both emerging and established,” he said.

Designer showcases will include a mix of menswear, womenswear, couture and ready-to-wear collections, he added.

“The core of the event is recognising local and regional designers,” said Dr Amina. “Once we do that, the buyers will come, and buyers are attracted by the quality of goods on offer. So it’s a cycle and it will be our job to facilitate that and to keep it going.”

While the first phase of d3 is set to open in 2015, the area specific for the creative community and designers is scheduled to be up and running by mid-2016, she said.

“It’s been a lot of hard work. We know the importance of having proper infrastructure for the design community to flourish and things are moving forward.”