As host of football’s 22nd World Cup, the Gulf State of Qatar will be firmly in the global spotlight come 2022. But in the meantime, the country is not only looking to make an impact in the sports world, but on the cultural stage too. Last week saw leading figures from the field of architecture descend on Doha, to mark the opening of the National Museum of Qatar which is dedicated to the history of the Middle Eastern country, alongside global fashion figures, who were in the capital to celebrate the future creative talent of the region, at the Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) awards.
Against increasing but still fledgling global interest in the local fashion market, the awards, founded by the British Fashion Council’s Tania Fares, and backed by Carmen, are designed to nurture local talent. And at a special ceremony last Thursday, the following creatives, selected from a shortlist of 25, each scooped up to $200,000 in funding for their brands, as well as valuable mentorship support.
The Lebanese designer was one of two awarded the FTA’s ‘Ready-to-Wear’ prize. Launching his eponymous brand in 2016, he uses his collections to tell stories, working with local women to create socially conscious, embroidered shirts using traditional techniques.
Fellow Lebanese designer Roni Helou was the joint ‘Ready-to-Wear’ winner. An environmental and animal rights activist, his beliefs heavily influence his colorful, deconstructed and sporty collections, which are also created with sustainability and fair working practices in mind. Helou was the first graduate of Creative Space Beirut, a free fashion school, and now teaches there and donates 30 per cent of his proceeds to the non-profit.
Jobotian, also Lebanese, took home the ‘Evening Wear’ award. Having spent time working in Elie Saab’s atelier, the designer launched his own business in 2011, and now presides over a team of 40. Tapping in to the special occasion culture of Beirut, the label is known for its romantic, sculptural pieces, which are typically decorated with feathers and intricate embroidery.
The Mukhi Sisters
Indian-Lebanese siblings Maya, Meena and Zeenat Mukhi were the winners in the ‘Jewelry’ category. Inspired by their shared heritage, their colorful stacking rings and bracelets are intricately designed using gold, precious stones and pearls.
Britel’s Moroccan label Zyne scooped the ‘Shoes’ prize. Her babouche-inspired mules, which combine aesthetic details with social enterprise, are already stocked by the likes of Net-a-Porter and Luisa Via Roma. And with the funding she has now secured through the FTA award, she hopes to extend her brand into the US.
Daki Marouf & Ahmed Sabry
Marouf and Sabry’s accessories brand Sabry Marouf secured the ‘Bags’ award. The Egyptian designers, who launched their label back in 2012, create sculptural minaudière in colored Plexiglass and reclaimed wood, inspired by ancient Egyptian headdresses, scarab beetles and the symbolic Djed pillar.