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By Chere Di Boscio
Fashion weeks may be dominated by Paris, London, New York and Milan, but Dubai’s Fashion Forward is about to change all of that. The biannual fashion showcase highlights regional talents, and there are many – Furne One, Michael Cinco, Rami Al Ali, Sohad Acouri, Alicia Ramadan, Andrea Brocca are just a few of the designers in the area who are stitching their way to international stardom. In fact, as would be expected from a city known for its opulent excesses, Fashion Forward is a show that puts all other fashion weeks to shame, as Ezra Santos’ spectacular show exemplified.
If the opening Flamenco tunes got hearts beating a bit faster, the couture that was subsequently paraded out got them completely aflutter. Diaphanous fabrics in shades of blush and pomegranate were created ecologically from Philippine pineapple fibres mixed with silk, and Inabel – another organic fabric from Philippines– was beautifully tailored along with tulle, jacquard, crepe and neoprene to form full, fishtailed, column and even cocoon silhouettes.
Santos is a proudly Filipino designer based in Dubai, and knows the history of his country well. He says he took his inspiration for this collection from “the Manila of the 1930’s and the beauty of the older days, the gorgeous mestizas clad in their finest Maria Clara and the days of the Spanish occupancy in our country that has had a major influence in the Philippine fashion.”
Coming from a land of rich natural beauty, Santos is also aware of the importance of environmental conservation, and ensured that not only was his collection made from eco-friendly fibres, but that his set was constructed from surplus lumber sourced from one of Dubai’s many building sites – a brilliant use of abundant materials that would otherwise have become landfill.
The finale of the show was particularly breathtaking, with some of the models swooning dramatically to the floor, only to be helped up on to their feet again by a veritable Prince Charming–the handsome model of the moment, Sebastian Sauve. This ‘Sleeping Beauty’ move certainly was poignant; it was as if to say: Middle Eastern fashion may have been dormant for some time, but now it is very most definitely awakening.