After introducing the Vogue Fashion Experience in Dubai, there was no denying the spotlight that shifted to the Middle Eastern markets. High-end designers have noticeably taken a more modest approach to style; many have gone as far as creating embellished Abayas for women in the conservative regions. After Dubai, many were left wondering where Vogue Italia would set their sights next, in their quest to discover emerging talent.
It came as quite a surprise when Vogue announced The Jeddah Vogue Fashion Experience in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Did we read the invitation correctly? Visit Saudi Arabia as a guest of Her Royal Highness Princess Adela bint Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz?! We had no idea that Vogue Italia would lift the veil and expose the world to a growing fashion capital.
Princess Adela bint Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
The Vogue Fashion Experience organized in collaboration with Rubaiyat Group and the National Home Health Care Foundation and sponsored by Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors, the official BMW importer in the Kingdom, is recognized as the first international fashion happening in Saudi Arabia, a market that is gaining more and more attention due to its expanding industry and economic growth.
Jeddah Vogue Fashion Experience commenced to an exhilarating start on April 20th when editors and the competing female designers were allowed to meet for the first time at the Press lunch, held by Rubaiyat representatives and the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani.
Franca Sozzani and Sheikh Abdullah
Abaya wearing guest sought refuge from the smoldering 102-degree heat, in the plush and exceptionally decorated Bellevue restaurant. Amidst the scrumptious 3-course meal and panoramic views, designers attempted to contain their excitement while discussing their collections with curious editors. By the end of the posh lunch, new friends were made and selfies were taken before dispersing to the next event.
There is no denying the marriage of Art and Culture in Saudi Arabia. Their rich cultural history is reflective in their architecture, personal style and society. Therefore it only made sense that a museum tour was scheduled for the guest. We were shuttled to Pharan Studio, which features installations and pieces from Saudi artist. The art conveyed stories of the past and present, and shed light on the ever-changing economic situation of the region.
Later that evening, guests were invited for a welcome cocktail (non-alcoholic, as alcohol is strictly permitted in Saudi Arabia) at an exclusive shopping area in the city called “Boulevard”. Spotlights lit up the sky, while Mercedes, BMW and Rolls Royce cars lined the streets for a “Fashion Night Out” themed evening.
After a strong dose of fashion, guest headed to the Italian Cultural Club for a private dinner under the stars. Franca Sozzani eloquently addressed the crowd about Vogue Italia’s programs for emerging designers and the efforts of the National Home Health Care Foundation, while Luca Ferrari, Italian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia discussed the flourishing relationship between Italy and the Middle East. The elegant evening ended on a high note with a surprise performance by Saudi hip-hop artist Qusai Kheder that had guest clapping and moving in their seats for the duration of the evening.
By: Chandia Brennen, Senior Fashion Editor/ Columnist