For several years now, the Arab world, a major consumer of fashion and luxury, has also been contributing to international fashion. A society of enlightened connoisseurs has produced responsive creators who, on the one hand, meet the expectations of their audiences and, on the other, bring fresh eyes to an industry ever threatened by redundancy.
Among the designers on the official calendars at London fashion week, Noon by Noor, Dahlia Razzook, and Qasimi grabbed our attention alongside more established names, like Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz in Paris.
Noon by Noor
Behind the Noon by Noor label, founded in 2008, are two Bahraini cousins and princesses, Cheikha Noor and Cheikha Haya al-Khalifa; the pair deliver luxurious and straightforward contemporary and refined fashion, always inspired, in one way or another, by the culture of the tiny emirate. Thus, the collection they presented during London Fashion Week for Spring-Summer 2022 has a fresh palette dominated by white and pastel hues and some pieces enhanced with traditional embroidery.
Called “Light” and presented at La Rochelle School of Art and Architecture, this new line is inspired by the checkered sarongs of the pearl fishermen of Bahrain. The creators have imagined their pieces throughout the pandemic-enforced lockdowns and have infused them with their most beautiful childhood memories of time spent by the sea. The natural textures, washed cotton, jersey, poplin, linen, tulle, canvas, and organza proclaim their freshness and blend with grace between light dresses with ruffles and small sets easy to live.
Dahlia Razzook is a Lebanese who grew up in Texas before studying at the London College of Fashion and moving to Great Britain, and she is incredible. After graduating with a degree in Fashion Technology with a specialization in surface textiles, her education opens the door to Alexander McQueen’s workshop. There, she begins training that she will also pursue at Ralph & Russo and Marchesa. Soon after, she founds her eponymous brand.
Razzook has a special way of dealing with patterns and prints, treating silk and satin as if they were simple cotton, her science of the corset, her art of understatement, and her ability to eroticize innocent dresses, make her a darling of the fashion press. She presents only a few pieces at her fashion shows, but she offers a tailor-made service where her magic unfolds in the secrecy of her workshops.
Behind this, initially masculine, label, there was a flamboyant prince of Arabia, Khalid Al Qasimi, son of the governor of Sharjah. After studying Architecture and Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins, he was one of the first to incorporate elements of the traditional Arab wardrobe, including jalabiyas, into his work, and he founded his eponymous brand in 2008.
Winner of prestigious prizes in photography, Qasimi was also a pioneer of contemporary engaged fashion, especially with a particular line of T-shirts bearing, in Arabic characters, the warning: “Press. Don’t shoot”. Khalid Al Qasimi passed away in 2019 at the age of 39, and his twin sister, Hoor Al Qasimi, succeeded him as the brand’s artistic director. The collection presented at London Fashion Week strives in the pursuit of multiculturalism and equal rights through straight, unostentatious clothing cut from dreamy textures.
Saab and Kayrouz
Unsurprisingly, Paris Fashion Week welcomed, two mainstays of the Lebanese scene: Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz. Elie Saab’s Spring-Summer 2022 collection announces the rise of the “ES” logo interpreted in a sizeable star-shaped pattern displayed in print on silk jerseys and in a buckle on bags, belts, and shades. Inspired by the 1970s, the collection awakens a Riviera spirit, compensating for the confinement forced on us by the pandemic.
Rabih Kayrouz, for his part, has opted for a line full of exaggerated volumes. Through revisited denim, with topstitching reminiscent of the pencil mark on the pattern, and light fabrics that swell or fly away at the slightest movement, the most Parisian of Arab couturiers has decided to revisit his archival pieces. This season, he’s adapting them to an urgent need for action and freedom for reasons that we can all understand.