Saudi Arabia to launch fashion week in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia will debut its first ever fashion week in March, in the latest example of rapid change in the country under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.


From left to right Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council. H.H. Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud, Honorary President, The Arab Fashion Council. Ms Layla Issa Abuzaid, Country Director Saudi Arabia, The Arab Fashion Council. Jacob Abrian, Founder and Chief Executive, The Arab Fashion Council - Photo: Ben Broomfield - PRNewsfoto/The Arab Fashion Council


The season will take place in the country’s capital Riyadh, and last from March 26 to 31, revealed Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud, Honorary President of the fledgling Arab Fashion Council at a breakfast jointly held with Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council to also announce a partnership with the London organization.
 
Dubai has staged a runway season for 10 editions, but this marks the first time that Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest Arab economy, has staged a fully-fledged runway season.
 
“It’s a moment of great change in our country. Our vision is to transform the Saudi fashion retail industry into a global and regional destination. We want to show Saudi Arabia not just as an economic force but also as a cultural and creative hub,” said Princess Noura, who wore Roberto Cavalli to the presentation.
 
The pair also announced a formal partnership with the BFC to share the latter’s knowledge about running a fashion week, and tap British designers into the Saudi market.
 
“The idea is to use fashion as cultural diplomacy to really bring together the Arab nations, and open the region to international businesses,” said Rush.
 
The runway season will be staged in the Apex Center, designed by Zaha Hadid, with most of the events taking place in the evening. Harvey Nichols is planning trunk shows in its Riyadh department store, and guests will be introduced to local artisans and museums, with trips to historic venues, like the old capital of Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
The catwalk designers will be a blend of Arabic talent and notable names form the West, with Roberto Cavalli expected.
 
“Some 70% of our population is under 30 years old, so we are confident that fashion can create great companies and job opportunities for our young generation. So, we want to create a world-class fashion event that links Europe, Africa and Asia. We are rich in natural resources, but our real wealth lies in the potential of our young generation,” said Layla Issa Abuzaid, Country Director of Saudi Arabia at the Arab Fashion Council.

Added the council's founder and chief executive, Jacob Abrian: “The BFC is a great inspiration in turning young talent into established designers. This step will take our Arab Fashion Week to another level, and we look forward to British designers coming to show with us. The Arab world is 22 countries, but we all speak the same language and have same culture and everyone listens to the same songs.”

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