Saturday, May 25, 2013

Middle East fashion, in prime acceleration.

Fashion Forward: A movement. A trail-blazing march toward the foundational, educational, structural and developmental needs of a flourishing industry - homegrown style.

vision. Conceptualised and realised by a group of individuals who simply thought to themselves 'you know what, enough of the show off - let's build...'

And so, you've seen all the news, the pictures, the hype. All wonderful, and well deserved. But...

The internationally inclined, in-depth and unabashed insight of this fashion forwarding necessary triumph has arrived, for you... below:

Within my worldly observations, opinions and executions in cultural excellence, I've never deemed it necessary to consult, cover or attend any of the so-called "fashion weeks" Dubai has unfortunately wasted claim on. This is mainly due to the fact that without production lines, actual collections, buyers, first class editors or any kind of global influencers, none could have deemed themselves an adequate platform - for any kind of adequate showcase. If the 'fashion industry' surrounding these 'shows' would even be the right title for a group of basic non-entities, whose overall contribution to this industry's growth would generally consist of flocking, posing and photo bombing

Stepping up.
Almost 7 months ago, my dearest of friends/PR maven/Dubai fashion disturber Saira Mehar told me about a concept for the region called Fashion Forward.

"Babe, this is everything you stand and pioneer for" said she. "Your push for cultural ownership, identity, story, intelligent application, filtering the fake, developing the excellent, all that, this is it, and bougi must come to Dubai to highlight it..." said she.

"I see..." said I. Does this mean the true talent I know to exist in the region will now have the starting foundations they need to properly express themselves? "YES!" said she.

There was no doubt in mind that my lady Mehar was accurate in her description, and so... I came to Dubai.

The development.
There were workshops, teachings and lessons. There were questions, words of advice and moments of analytical glory. There was a chance to listen,  to hone in and examine previous journeys of fashion success - and failure. There was content (or more accurately, a look into the lack thereof). Identity, story and ownership. What to continue. What to stop. What to really take home as valuable tools for elevation. Other than a stream of instagram photos and social kisses, of course.

A particular moment in this higher learning experience came in the form of Rabih Kayrouz, and his inspiring work with the Starch foundation in his home country of Lebanon. The rather legendary Mr. Kayrouz attended Fashion Forward as a mentor - first, followed by a marvelous display of Starch designer skill, the works of a well supported next generation, if you will.

How refreshingly bold Rabih was in expressing his experienced opinion. We touched on the relationship between culture and commerce, a misunderstood concept in the MENA region that I regularly advocate for. The missing pillars, such as the realisation in one's own story, and telling it independently, the correct developments, and how to harness them further. His words speaking to me like beautiful music, sweet to the ear, familiar to the heart, oh so soothing on one's soul:

"Fashion weeks are failing because we don't need them and can't do them - yet... let's work on fixing our electricity first"

"Get up, and remember who you are"

"As people of the Middle East, what is our DNA? What reflects us? Certainly not any bastardisation of our good taste..."

"Let's take a more anthropological perspective in our creation, and like you said, like bougi, bring back the best of what makes us..."

And, applause. 

The attire. 
So, there was a lot. Over 15 shows actually, which felt a little tight unfortunately. No time to digest one show before having to rush to the other. And let's not discuss the near stampedes taking place upon entry to each venue... very uncouth.

I was particularly drawn to designers who clearly found inspiration in their own signatures, their own unique style delivery, clearly recognised and associated. Examples: Dina JSR and her evening gowns. Zayan's playful comforts. Emporer 1688 - with that supreme print, gold accessorising, future and yet classic air.

Just watch: pink link by Dina JSR

By Zayan

By Emporer 1688 

So impressed was I by Emporer 1688's collection that a visit to their Dubai based boutique was a must. Ordering a suit of my own, while sharing the love with Cameron Silver, aka Bravo TV's Duke of Melrose & owner of "Decades" - LA's most respected vintage store, aka also the author of "Decades" (same name), aka general style God. Naturally, he loved.

Ezra put the 'show' in fashion show. Simply and stupendously. A musical soundtrack that left us with nothing but the rawest of emotion, and his eloquent designs. Truly, a bravo moment.

Just watch: pink link by EZRA

Essa, and a men's collection that left me particularly WANTING - even as a woman. Dark and colourful, obscurely and fittingly. Wonderfully.

By Essa

Michael Cinco, and all that detail. All that glorious detail. I honestly couldn't tell you how he so perfectly managed to balance grace, innocence and purity, with a strong stench of punk? But he did. Amato gave a superb dose of decadent detail too, as part of his more theatrical show of couture. I asked Mr. Cinco what the relationship was between the Philippines, fashion and Dubai. Why Dubai, as the chosen land of success for many of the Philippines' most prestigious designers?"... ... ... ... "Well, we're gifted in our patience, a lot of patience" said he. Ha.

By Michael Cinco 


By Amato

By Dima Ayad

Lace was used popularly across the board and throughout Fashion Forward's opening season, which will never be a problem for moi, thanks to a mild obsession with the fabric. Its intricate beauty and vast possibilty, just timeless. Dima Ayad's contribution to the lace love was especially memorable; she clearly has every woman in mind, which ranks highly in my 'never will I ever be a zero size' life.

The moments. 

"When great minds combine" by Rabih Kairouz & Rozan Ahmed

"Bedazzled power rangers"

"Passion & bougi... Game changers, at large"

"Ear lobe glory" by Plush Beirut & Vanina

"Facial glory" by Amato

"Matted shades" by Mr. Dolce, Mr. Gabbana & Ms. Ahmed

"Vogues & front rows..." by Ahlan

"Minerals for hand bags" by Lebanon

"Bahrain reunions" by Rozan & Khaleda 

"For this love of lace"

"Heavenly accessory"

bougi's Rozan Ahmed, DJ Rashida & Splash's Sonal Vara-Gross

"Shoe games"

"Pretty things on pretty hands" by Starch's Talah Hajjar

"How to match a bright yellow wrist band..." By Chanel, MCM & green leopard prints

"Fashion is not a democracy..." by the CFDA's Steven Kolb

Move on up. 
In the spirit of it all, we move fashionably 'forward' and season 2 already promises to make an even bigger impact, with topics such as e-commerce coming into play, content development, power of story and a wider representation of Middle East talent showcasing their homegrown gifts, on what is definitively the best platform.

Salutes, Fashion Forward, on this progressive, most righteous rise.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dear Miguel...

This is what happens when an artist tries too hard... feeling himself, ego-filled, creating a forgettable moment of buzz - based on raw hilarity, that may eventually lead to a law suit.

This is what happens when an artist (albeit a few flaws) is just an artist... feeling the music, ego-free, creating a memorable moment in history - based on raw talent, that may eventually lead to generations of inspiration.

No one will care about this incident of yours in approximately 7 minutes. We are as you know, a generation *that* fickle.

But on a serious note Mr. Miguel, your talents aren't requiring of this much... effort? This much 'mmph' you tend to put on stage. It's just not necessary, and should come more naturally. If it doesn't, leave it alone.

Your vocals, just your vocals, are enough to hold a stellar performance.

Getting caught up is one thing. Trying too hard... that's another thing. A whole other, thing.

With real love.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Black Jackets. Little ones. By Chanel. In Dubai.

Chanel. You already know.

Just one of those iconic brands that impossibly but very possibly never ceases to fail. It is an ultimate love affair, that never cheats. A most inspiring friend, never disspapointing.

Every being associated, regardless of 'faux' level, becomes somehow completely uplifted. Just like that.

And with every counterfeit maker so closely following Chanel's every move, nothing, simply nothing, can take away from this Parisian ornament of historic, contemporary, forward and yet classic artistry.

bougi's Rozan Ahmed & Chanel's King Karl at the amfAR gala, Cannes 2012

"Simplicity does not mean poverty" - Queen Coco

Chanel's shows, as part of all these 'weeks', have always been highlights in one's fashion related life. There's a genuine consideration in that word, 'show' - which of course holds significant weight in display of attire. Example favorites have always been at Miami's Raleigh hotel. Something about the aqua catwalk... always a joy to mine eye.

Back to the original topic at hand, Dubai, and the Emirati arrival of Chanel's touring exhibition celebrating the "Little Black Jacket".

"Correct backdrops..."

A little history:

The pictures, the moments:

The evening's vogue: In spirit of location, by the Middle East's 

 Saira Mehar, Rozan Ahmed & Sonal Vara-Vara Gross

"Glorious settings..."

"Just right..."

"A happier looking Kanye"

"The story of my long life" by Yoko Ono 

"Just heaven..."

"Courtesy of Shahi"

"Courtesy of Karl"

"Hello Mr. London..."

"Those alien features... out of this world... kind of perfect"

"Saudi shimmer, accessory glow..."

"Landscape jackets, amogst little black ones"

"Courtesy of Chanel"

Rita Ora performed. And while one's never thought to associate her brand with one like Chanel's, again... somehow, being Chanel, it worked. Well.

"Ending on Ora..."

The exhibition remains on display at The Venue in downtown Dubai until 11 May 2013. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

THEE Column: April 2013. Thai breaks, London fashion, Bahrain weddings. Nigerian flair.

'How to manage time when you literally have none'... This, I have coined in acceptance of the fact that my life is a shining example of organised chaos. Or, as Forbes magazine recently phrased, 'a business in life' - as part of an interesting story delving into the lives of 'virtual entrepreneurs'. The article actually and literally broke down my entire being's operation. It also brought me ample comfort, to learn that I am not alone in this mild but marvelous madness.

"I'm on a boat..."

So, 2013's officially old. How we're about to complete one third of this year is completely beyond me. Over my head and unacceptable (referencing time and none of it). In 3 short months, I've been in Thailand, London, Bahrain, Sudan, Dubai (twice), and now, I'm in South Africa. Soon boarding a ship, to sail (yes SAIL), onto Ghana. More on this grand sea based voyage of business intelligence, next column.

"Rihanna goes fashion"

As for Thailand, I basically cleared. An actual holiday of complete unadulterated self-care, cleanse and clarity. Wondrous, that it was. Then there was London, beaming with her usual creativity, that inspiring mesh of everything most other capital cities can only wish they naturally possessed. Shoreditch house was the primary 'spot' on this occasion. In fact East London, with all its pre-hegemony cool, appears to have become the official spot for most of the young and affluent capital dwellers. Fashion week commitments were filled with many a moment, such as Rihanna's new line with River Island. Best way to summarise this collection would be by simply saying... it's very "Rihanna". Kind of 80's, kind of skanky, kind of promiscuous but also somehow "tomboy". Just kind of really Riri.

River Island goes Riri" - shouts to @AreitaWho

"Mr. Ford goes ethnic"

Tom Ford's show was very African to be frank. But then again so are most of the Western catwalks these days. Tribal prints in all their traditional bright colours. The odd ode to 90's hip hop. Dancehall throwbacks. Very rootsyIndigenous, even. A definite air of fabulous - afrocentric - ly. Lanvin too have done similarly of late, so have Kenzo. It's as if many of these creative directors took themselves along to various raves in Jamaica, LewishamKenyaBotswana and Congo, generating all sorts of copy paste inspiration followed by triumphant returns to their Parisian runways. Anyhoo.

Prince Fahad Al Saud & Rozan Ahmed. LFW. 2013.

Saudi Arabia's Fahad Al Saud, generally known for his ground-breaking work in technology, affecting (majorly changing) social spheres both globally and locally within his home region of the Middle East, also made quite the splash debut at LFW. Yes correct. As well as tech entrepreneurship, Fahad's fashion stakes proved mighty high amongst London's leading fashion sets... pink link for more on that level of creative diversity.

Other fine Londre #instamoments, below:

"The final premiere" - London & Arbitrage, with Mohammed Al Turki

"The napkin debates" - with female greats, Jessica, Jasmine, Jodie (all these J's) 
& the lovely Nadia

"Akala, live..." - Now watch what's below


"A little #LFW vogue..."

"The Gentlemen" - Arbitrage times, with Mohammed Al Turki, Richard Gere 
& Nicholas Jarecki

"Foiled rooms, graff...lights" - with the Wellington

"Memorable nights..." - With Love & Liqour, Idris Elba, Trevor Nelson 
& Mr. Clement

Bahrain then saw the beautiful nuptials of a dear friend take place in the Kingdom's Bushido and trademark Gulf Hotel. As much as I love weddings, they're a little boring unless those getting a 'ring on it' are particularly dear to me. This year, there's 8 of them (yes EIGHT). I didn't even know I had 8 dear friends. All deciding to get married THIS YEAR (?). In Bahrain, Jamaica, Scotland, Nigeria, Dubai, Lebanon, Scotland and the UK (??). Which now means I need a new wardrobe (???). Wow.

"Bahrain. Beloved. Blessed"

Green bar's Reem was my stunning date throughout the Bahrain based celebrations. A sister, and loved one, who will spend my 70's with me in Tuscany somewhere - people watching. Visit for news of her wonderful work in keeping many a body's skin (including mine) both internally and externally gleaming.

"Dubai views..."

"More wedding celebrations..."

Dubai, and the whirlwind of 2013 weddings continue. This time with much Nigerian flair. The exceptionally talented Tuface married his long-time sweetheart at a rather lavish ceremony off the coast of the glossy emirate. A private island somewhere, beautifully dressed, for 250 of their special guests. With 3 chartered yachts, plenty of opulence, brilliant music, and lots of good times.

"Dining partners..." - with Mr. BW (shouts to the Captain)

Next, the opening of Dubai's latest (and probably greatest) evening venue, The Act. For those who know The Box in London, or The Act in Vegas,'s your Emirati version. Large enough to house Dubai's manic nightlife, yet small enough to maintain a gracious intimacy. Suitably decorated, rich and necessary.

Congrats and applause, Sir Simon. 
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