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Fashion Trust Arabia competition 2020 finalists
Printed dress Fatima Al Baker, leather mules Andrea Wazen, Hair Aldo Coppola at Salon Doha, make-up Lucky Allure, model Amalina Alexander, photography assistant Joe Reddy, styling assistant Moundalek Sarah, local production The Film House, special thanks National Museum of QatarPhotography Ester Theaker, Styling Makram Bitar

The Arabian fashion initiative supporting young and emerging designers

Get to know the finalists of Fashion Trust Arabia’s 2020 edition in a new editorial taken from the spring/summer issue of Dazed

With the current coronavirus pandemic leaving those in the creative industries facing an incredibly uncertain future, it has never been more important for large-scale organisations to support emerging fashion designers and brands. Award schemes such as the LVMH Prize, provide the financial resources to ensure that young talent can sustain – and grow – their businesses, while the likes of Fashion East and the BFC’s Newgen initiatives have given rise to some of the world’s most notable names. 

In the Middle East and North Africa, there is only one similar awards-based initiative. Fashion Trust Arabia was founded in 2018, providing annual support and international recognition to shortlisted designers in the MENA region. The 2020 iteration of the ceremony was due to take place on March 25 at The National Museum of Qatar: inevitably, it was cancelled when much of the world went into lockdown earlier this month. 

With 25 designers in the running for prizes split between ready-to-wear, evening wear, accessories, jewellery, and the ‘debut’ category which champions rising talent, a panel of judges including Marc Jacobs, Michèle Lamy, Naomi Campbell, and Olivier Rousteing were due to select the winner, with Dazed’s co-founder Jefferson Hack standing as a member of the Advisory Board. Though not in its original format, a judging day is now scheduled to go ahead via Zoom conference on April 28, with Yoon Ambush, Alber Elbaz, Olivier RousteingDaniel Arsham and more all dialling in.

In the meantime, the FTA revealed the 2020 finalists across its Instagram account, collaborating with Dazed on a specially commissioned editorial for its spring/summer 2020 issue, which celebrates a cross section of their work.

Shot by photographer Esther Theaker and styled by Makram Bitar, the story highlights Alexandra Hakim, a jeweller who uses found materials from Lebanese food markets as inspiration; ready-to-wear label Emergency Room, which repurposes vintage materials and deadstock fabrics to form new pieces; and Yousef Akbar, who specialises in evening wear, and finds fascination in pattern cutting and construction.

Finishing off the shoot are pieces from Central Saint Martins graduate Omer Asim, who approaches his work with an architectural eye; and Fatima Al Baker, a debuting designer celebrating her Qatari roots by printing voluminous dresses with illustrations of hijab-wearing women. 

Additionally, Dazed collaborated with Fashion Trust Arabia to produce a series of short films where each designer discussed their work in detail, and how their respective nominations have impacted them. “The Middle East is undeniably a hub for creative talent and I am proud to be part of,” says Alexandra Hakim. “Being an FTA finalist gives me a platform and the international exposure to break the boundaries in an industry where local talent struggles to get off the ground.” Yousef Akbar also spoke of how the awards have touched him both personally and professionally. “Being an FTA finalist is a big honour and is a very important opportunity in my career, and to be selected amongst all these talented people definitely is something very special,” he says. 

In further testament to the organisation’s commitment to nurturing fashion’s future, FTA has also now launched its #STANDWITHCREATIVES campaign – a COVID-19 initiative that sits alongside the ongoing annual awards programme. The campaign seeks to provide help to designers, also residing in the MENA region, who have been affected by the current health crisis. For those seeking financial support, admissions are now open here.

Other finalists include: Andrea Wazen, ÈLBÉ (by Nour Ben Cheikh & Clementine Lecointre), Liudmila (by Najeeba Hayat), RAMLA (by Reem Hamed), Zakaria Bendriouich, Ahmed Serour, Intissar Baiz, Maya Chantout, Zeid Hijazi, Bazza Alzouman, ILYES OUALI, Sara Mrad, Shahira Lasheen, AMMANII (by Amany Bishara), Kamushki (by Mariam and Dania Sawedeg), OUMAEM (by Anas Alomaim), TAMARZIZT (by Oumaima Tamarzizt), Beige Label (by Muna al Othaiman), BORN IN EXILE (by Ibrahim Shebani), and Nafsika Skourti (by Nafsika and Stephanie Skourti).