In an unprecedented initiative in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Rubaiyat, Saudi Arabia’s go-to luxury destination, and Vogue Italia, the most influential Italian fashion title, came together to provide an international platform for Saudi female fashion designers.
The glamorous three-day affair was held on the coast of the Red Sea in the stunning city of Jeddah during April 20- 22 , 2016. Editors, designers and the fashion elite gathered in anticipation of the Jeddah Vogue Experience.
Without a doubt, the Middle East is known for it’s wealth, opulence and glamour and although Saudi Arabia is considered extremely modest in their approach to style, their abundant lifestyle is indicative of a thriving country. The Experience, jointly organized by Rubaiyat and Vogue Italia, and sponsored by Mohamed Yousuf Naghi Motors, sole official BMW importer in the Kingdom, is recognized as the first international fashion happening in Saudi Arabia. Upon landing, guests were greeted by a fleet of white 7-series BMW’s that whisked them off expeditiously to a VIP Lounge in King Abdulaziz International Airport. After being treated to decadent dates and Arabic Coffee in the “female only” waiting lounge, guests were transported to the luxurious Park Hyatt Hotel.
This multi-faceted 5 star resort is set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens on the southern part of Jeddah where exceptional service meets unrivalled views of the Red Sea and the King Fahd fountain (The tallest fountain in the world).
Outside of the pomp and circumstance of the arrival, identifying the next generation of Saudi fashion talents was the main goal of the first edition of the Jeddah Vogue Fashion Experience. Guest were provided custom made abaya’s that were created by two of the competing designers to wear throughout the trip, which also allowed guest to get a true sense of the quality of the collection.
Senior Fashion Editor, Chandia Brennen wearing an abaya by Haal Inc.
To take part in the initiative, talents were required to submit their portfolio through Vogue Italia’s website. The collections were reviewed by the team of Vogue Italia, that selected ten super talented designers to compete for the chance to present her collection in Milan.
Wafaa Abbar, President of the Rubaiyat Group, stated: “It is tremendously rewarding to see Saudi women being given such an opportunity on the world stage. We, together with Vogue Italia, are delighted to help highlight some of the Arab world’s more talented and emerging designers.”
With Jeddah being the fashion capital of Saudi Arabia and the Rubaiyat representing a large selection of Italian brands, it only made sense for Vogue Italia and Rubaiyat to form a fierce fashion alliance. Wafaa Abbar is adamant about shining a spotlight on Saudi designers, as women in the Middle East are known for being the highest consumers of luxury brand accessories.
Franca Sozzani, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, commented: “This initiative builds on Vogue Italia’s deep commitment to promote new fashion talents, knowing how important it is to offer them relevant and concrete international platforms to present and advance their creativity.”
It came as no surprise that Sheikh Abdullah Binzagr, Owner & Chairman of Rubaiyat Group, an honored recipient of the Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy), is the driving force behind this latest project; a prominent figure in the Saudi business community, he is known to foster new talents.
In partnership with the National Home Health Care Foundation, this event featured a unique experience to Scout the best female talents, embracing their ambition and promoting their work on an international platform whilst adding to this initiative a humanitarian dimension by supporting the National Home Health Care; an opportunity that combines efforts and talents for a good cause.
All the funds raised, thanks to the organization of a women’s charity Gala Dinner, are donated to the Child Priority, which will encourage and support the empowerment of women living in underdeveloped areas of the world.
By: Chandia Brennen, Senior Fashion Editor/ Columnist