Saudi Arabia hosts its first Arab Fashion Week

Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli are
in Saudi Arabia — headlining the kingdom’s first ever Arab Fashion Week, an
event that opened Tuesday to equal parts excitement and controversy.

Two weeks later than , the Saudi Arabian edition of
Arab
Fashion Week joins designers from Europe and the Arab world over the course
of
four days — including the kingdom’s own Arwa Banawi, whose The Suitable
Woman
line is adored by fashionistas across the region, and Mashael Alrajhi, the
eponymous gender-inclusive label of a rarely-seen Saudi sheikha.
Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al-Saud, honorary president of the Arab
Fashion
Council in Riyadh, joined designers, influencers, and industry insiders from
Ukraine to Lebanon for the inaugural season of fashion week at the
Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, the hotel now infamous as the holding place of
hundreds of royals and businessmen arrested in a state-sponsored corruption
crackdown.

“Fashion has always an interest of Saudi Arabia,” Princess Noura told
AFP
at the event.
“It has not been something that wasn’t on the table or in the picture,”
she
added. “Our fashion council is trying to bring the fashion industry in Saudi
Arabia to a whole new level, a whole new industry.”
Listed as an international fashion week alongside Paris and Milan, Arab
Fashion Week offers exclusively see-now-buy-now collections and
pre-collections. Until this week, it had been hosted exclusively by Gulf
fashion capital Dubai.
But unlike Dubai, the Riyadh shows are not open to cameras, and attendees
remain women-only.

The ultraconservative kingdom has witnessed rapid policy change since
the
June appointment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the king and
heir
to his throne.
As of this summer, women will be allowed to drive in the kingdom. The
crown
prince has also hinted that the abaya, the long loose robe worn by women
from
the neck down, may not be compulsory.
“We are so excited today to be announcing a history and new era for the
kingdom, and for the entire Arab world, which is Arab Fashion Week,” said
Jacob Abrian, CEO of the Arab Fashion Council.
A second edition of Saudi Arab Fashion Week is already scheduled for
October.
Dubai will continue to host its own parallel Arab Fashion Week, with the
sixth edition slotted for May 9-12. (AFP)

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