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Riyadh Fashion Week Wraps Up Historic First Edition

Halima Aden walks at Honayda’s RFW show

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The series of dreams that have come true in Saudi Arabia is still continuing, as the Kingdom’s capital witnessed four historic days during the first-ever Riyadh Fashion Week.

Saudi designers achieved their dreams with the end of Riyadh Fashion Week, as 29 Saudi brands displayed their creativity in the sector through 15 shows.

The Riyadh Fashion Week was inaugurated by famous Saudi couturier Mohammed Ashi who hosted his first-ever runway show in the country — a historic milestone for the Kingdom — as the global fashion community watched.

The event marks three years of remarkable growth and success since the Saudi Fashion Commission was founded, and embodied Saudi Arabia’s newly-emerged, forward-thinking domestic fashion scene.

The first show of its kind in Riyadh reinforced the identity and culture of the Kingdom by placing several features that made it unique, as the winding runway was set against a striking backdrop of artificial sand dunes and accommodated hundreds of guests in the newly-built King Abdullah Financial District, an architectural wonder and economic powerhouse within Riyadh.

Designs transcended boundaries, ranging from the world of playful and delightful couture to bold and glittering eveningwear, timeless elegance, traditional dress, and street style.

The designs and displays were not limited to traditional and modern fashions, but also honored the historical successes that the Kingdom has recently achieved, as the world-famous supermodel Halima Aden walked the catwalk for Honayda Serafi, debuting the “Cosmos” collection honoring Rayyanah Barnawi, the first female Saudi astronaut to go into space.

With fashion a key element of Saudi’s cultural renaissance, Hamed Fayez, Saudi Deputy Minister of Culture, supported the designers from the front row.

Commenting on the historic step taken in Saudi Arabia’s fashion sector, Burak Çakmak, CEO of the Saudi Fashion Commission, said: “This week has been a dream come true. Riyadh Fashion Week is a prime example of our commitment to bringing the fashion industry together, highlighting a remarkable journey of transformation for the sector.”

He added: “We are playing an integral role in driving economic growth and diversification, while creating an environment for local talent to develop their skills and thrive on the global stage.

“I can’t thank the local and global community enough for coming together in Riyadh and supporting Saudi fashion. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Riyadh Fashion Week.”

A number of celebrities were invited to witness the historic event to help promote Saudi designers on the world stage including German fashion influencer Leonie Hanne, Saudi actress Khairiah Abulaban, Egyptian singer Ahmed Saad, and the Emirati twins that have taken the fashion world by storm, Mohammed and Humaid Hadban.

Moreover, the Kingdom’s very first official fashion week championed the diversity of emerging Saudi designers and established Saudi brands. In addition to the catwalk shows, there was an event showroom for guests to visit and discover the wide range of styles and pieces offered by Saudi designers.

In a first-of-its kind activation, Snapchat partnered with Riyadh Fashion Week to create an immersive augmented reality experience bringing brands to life in pop-up rooms that allowed guests to try on designs virtually.

The event also championed the local female-owned make-up brand Asteri Beauty, the world’s first-ever desert-proof make-up, with guests gifted goodie bags and makeovers.

Over the last year, the Saudi fashion industry has seen established and emerging brands shone at events across the world, showcasing designs across Paris and Milan Fashion Week, and most recently returning from an investor roadshow in New York. The latter saw direct investment in 1886 and Abadia, by Turmeric Capital.

The launch of the ‘State of Fashion in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2023) report’, extrapolated key data from the Kingdom to produce a comprehensive study of the Saudi fashion industry. A detailed overview of the industry’s size, growth and key trends, along with analyses, the report showcases the unique cultural influences and talent that make Saudi Arabia’s fashion industry distinct.

Momentum is set to continue with the opening of the Commission’s Product Development Studio in the next few months. A space to support designers with the most advanced machinery, technology and expertise, the studio aims to foster the development of the fashion design community. — SG

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