Saudi Fashion Designers Make Red Carpet Debut At Red Sea Film Festival –

Saudi Arabia’s emerging fashion design labels have been making their red carpet world premieres for the past few days at the Red Sea International Film Festival, which runs from December 1 to 10 in the port city of Jeddah.

A raft of regional and international celebrity guests hit the gala red carpets in local creations, along with other stars dressed in long-established luxury brands, in an initiative spearheaded by the country’s new fashion commission.


The campaign comes just three years after the country relaxed a strict dress code that required women to wear abayas and cover their hair in public, opening up society and the economy. As part of reforms to diversify away from dependence on oil revenues.

The effort to promote Saudi Arabia’s emerging fashion labels on the Red Sea red carpet is the brainchild of Burkek Mak, CEO of the country’s new fashion commission, which the Ministry of Culture will launch in 2021 to launch the cultural sector. was among the 11 organizations formed by

Cakmak, whose resume includes luxury groups Kering and Swarovski, arrives in the role from New York’s Parsons School of Design, where he was dean of fashion from 2015 to 2020, with a mandate to build the country’s fashion industry from scratch. .

At the Red Sea’s grand opening night event, guest of honor Guy Ritchie’s wife Jackie Ainsley wore a fitted cream gown designed by Duzlaq.


The Miami-based label was founded by Saudi Arabian designer Salma Zahran in 2016 and is now in the process of entering Saudi Arabia’s emerging fashion market.

Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosini made the appearance in a body-hugging electric blue dress by Jeddah-born designer Yusuf Akbar, who studied fashion in Australia and then set up his own label in 2017.

Rising Saudi Arabian actress Mullah Al-Zahrani, best known for her role in Haifa Al-Mansour The perfect candidateDressed in a stylish black and white dress by Riyadh-based designer Michel Al Faris, the local labels also joined behind.

Elsewhere at the festival, model and businesswoman Elle Macpherson attended Vanity Fair’s Women in Cinema party sponsored by Chopard in a pink jumpsuit by Amara, the womenswear label launched in 2019 by Urwa Alkad. .


She accessorized with a bag from London College of Fashion alumna Daniya Shankar, who works between Saudi Arabia and Ireland.

A dozen other celebrities also showed off local creations on the red carpet in the opening days of the festival.

“We’re trying to build Saudi brands, so they’re getting the same visibility as international brands operating in the country,” says Cakmak. “The idea is to put their pieces on the red carpet with all the other international brands so they’re part of the mix, and they’re recognized on the same level.”

He and his team hastily match local designers with celebrities as the Red Sea’s VIP list comes together in the weeks leading up to the festival.

“These types of engagements are usually finalized at the last minute and what’s important for us and for Saudi brands is to understand the process that they are always ready,” he said.


“We’ve built a dedicated suite at the Ritz (the main hub of the festival this year) and depending on our team as well as the connections between the festival and the designers, we’re in touch with all the stylists and sometimes the celebrities themselves. “

“It’s basically managing that matchmaking process and allowing celebrities to see the pieces in action and then send them to their hotels or invite them to the suite themselves,” he continued. kept “The good thing about area designers is that they are very used to doing custom, made-to-measure pieces, so they often have their own in-house teams and can react quickly. able to.”

The red carpet push in Jeddah is one of several initiatives launched by the commission over the past 12 months, leading up to the Saudi 100 Brands exhibition, which showcases the work of 80 female designers, in December 2021. Launched in Riyadh, and then traveled to New York this July, followed by Milan Fashion Week in September.

“After a year of engagement, we decided it was time to start taking up space on the red carpet as well but it really takes a concentrated effort to get that attention in a very crowded place,” ” said Cake Mac.

“Obviously fashion and film are very connected. In film, the costumes are important, but beyond that, we’ve seen with the Met Gala and festival red carpets how fashion is playing a very key role. “


Middle Eastern film festival red carpets have a reputation for over-the-top dresses and bling, but CakeMake suggests that Saudi Arabia prefers a more understated aesthetic and, as a result, its designers based in Europe and the US. Can offer sophistication equal to fashion brands.

He notes, however, that the aim is not only to target international markets and celebrities, but also to engage with the Saudi population and the country’s emerging film industry.

“Saudi is coming to film. And that’s another reason why we were motivated to do it. What’s more important to me than international celebrities is the people in the Saudi film industry, the creators, Directors and producers on the red carpet, representing local creatives.

Asked if he’s now eyeing the red carpets of A-list festivals like Cannes and Venice, Cake Mac replied: “It’s our absolute desire to be able to do that.”

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