Take 10 of the UAE’s most talented young female designers, add 10 months of intensive training and mentoring from the London College of Fashion (LCF), plus collaborations with Emirati craftswomen. What do you get? The Azyame Class of 2020 – a crop of fashion and jewellery start-ups primed for the international market.
Now in its fourth year, the talent incubator initiative by UAE-based Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council paired its protégés with Bidwa crafswomen to master talli, a Bedouin embroidery technique, alongside workshops on sustainability and marketing. “Regional identity is being interlaced with a contemporary style to develop a new wave of fashion,” says Toby Meadows, Azyame programme leader and LCF visiting lecturer.
Names to watch include Shoug Fardan, whose collection pairs digitally printed photography of her grandmother with black, faux leather talli threads; and Fatma Alawi, for her exquisitely detailed, metallic-edged kaftans (pictured). With an online fashion show debuting the collections this spring, this is, in Meadows’s words, “still only at the start of the Emirati fashion journey”.