“I’ve seen the impact that a smart and well-funded fashion fund can have on both local and global fashion,” said Olivier Rousteing. “To build a strong and competitive fashion scene, it’s key to have the necessary framework, help and funding to inspire, support and guide new talents.” Balmain’s creative director was speaking to British Vogue last year following the announcement that he was joining the judging panel for the Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) Prize, and the inaugural event, which is supported by Carmen, is currently taking place in Dohar.
Founded by the British Fashion Council’s co-chair Tania Fares, the FTA is a non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing local design talent. The former designer, who is Lebanese with Jordanian heritage, spends a great deal of her time in the region, and is very familiar with its up-and-coming designers, but she became increasingly aware that others in the industry did not have the benefit of her insight. “There is a lot of talent in the region, but there’s a lack of support,” she told the Financial Times. “We’re creating a structure within the industry there from scratch.”
Under the patronage of its Honorable Chair Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, and co-chaired with Fares by Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, the FTA is a collective of high profile fashion designers, executives and personalities whose focus is not only to help design talent from the Arab world build their brands and secure international exposure and recognition, but will also offer mentorship opportunities and financial support. Launched last September, 25 finalists have since been selected across four categories, and the winners will be announced today at a special ceremony taking place in the Qatar capital.
Among those joining Olivier Rousteing on the judging panel are fellow designers Diane von Furstenberg, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Alexander Wang, Zuhair Murad, Haider Ackermann and Erdem Moralıoğlu, actress Farida Khelfa, Instyle’s Laura Brown, Sara Maino of Vogue Italia and Natalie Massenet. And they will be considering four individual awards, namely Ready-to-Wear, Evening Wear, Accessories (Shoes/Bags) and Jewelry (Fine Jewelry/Fashion Jewelry).
The finalists for the Ready-to-Wear prize are Amna Al Salem from Kuwait; Hamza Guelmouss and Karim Adduchi from Morocco; the UAE’s Reemami; Riadh Trabelsi from Tunisia; Nafsika Skourti from Jordan; and from Lebanon Salim Azzam, Boyfriend and Roni Helou.
Vying for the Evening Wear accolade are Azzi and Osta, Hussein Bazaza, Krikor Jabotian and Sandra Mansour from Lebanon; and Qatar’s Yasmin Mansour.
Contenders for the Accessories award are Kuwait’s Liudmila and Marzook; Zyne from Morocco; Poise from Lebanon; and Sadafa, Okhtein and Sabry Marouf from Egypt; and the Jewelry finalists are Karma Salman, Mukhi Sisters and Joanna Laura Constantine from Lebanon; and the UAE’s Donna Hourani.
Speaking to British Vogue’s Liam Freeman, FTA judge Pierpaolo Piccioli commented, “Talent is conceptual, but it needs to be shared in order to grow and develop. This project offers me the opportunity to help them express their artistic value. I am sure I will learn a lot from them, too.”