The United Arrab Emirates are sky rocketing into the future. At a time when most of the world is at an economic stand still, the increasingly diverse UAE economy is racing ahead outpacing the rest of us with tourist centres such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi making big bucks. Yet, when it comes to the growing fashion market the forward thinking Emirates have been rather slow to catch on. However, 2011 saw progression with the introduction of Dubai Fashion Week, a chance for the UAE to show the rest of the world what the Middle East has to offer.
One designer who commanded the attention of the fashion world was entrepreneur, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi with her label SEEN couture. When SEEN opened the Harper's Bazzar Arabian Nights catwalk at Dubai Fashion Week in October heads turned and jaws dropped as the limited edition floaty dresses skimmed the floor of the catwalk, finally a brand that manages to combine classic chic style with traditional Middle Eastern dress.
Launched in 2010, SEEN couture's limited edition, colourful and classically feminine dresses are already a big hit with style concious Middle Eastern ladies. The founder of SEEN, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi has became somewhat of an entrepreneurial icon in the Emirates. The designer first became known in 2001 when she started a career as a digital artist with a series of painting inspired by the late sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Since then Suwaidi has been hailed by art lovers as the first female Emirati digital artist. As Suwaidi's career progressed her entrepreneurial instinct kicked in and she opened her boutique, 'Grafika', as a platform for up and coming designers to sell and showcase their creations to the UAE market and beyond through the website. Grafika is now one of the most famous multi-brand stores in Abu Dhabi.
With a rising status in the Middle Eastern fashion industry, Suwaidi was invited to judge the Emirati designer of the year competition in 2009. In addition Suwaidi also won the L'Officiel Award in 2010 for the Arab women of the year under the category of 'Best New Talent' and was nominated as Emirates woman of the year in 2011 by Emirates Woman Magazine.
SEEN couture embodies the powerful and inspiring aspects of Sumayyah Al Suwaidi's personality with the belief that no dress should be made twice as every woman should be unique and independent in her style. The SEEN collections build on the traditional female Middle Eastern dress, taking the jalabiya and abaya dresses and adding a modern edge with the use of classically chic silhouettes and materials such as satin and silk. In Suwaidi's S/S 2012 collection showcased at Dubai Fashion Week off the shoulder cuts, split skirts and drop neck lines featured often. The use of prints, colour blocking and sequins, to create a metallic effect in one particular piece, brought the dresses into the 21st century and impressed an international audience. The stand out piece, for me, was the one shouldered purple dress with emerald green, silk trim down the sleeve and across the waistline.
The first DFW put SEEN on an international platform. There is no doubt that 2012 will push SEEN into the mainstream fashion radar. The label is due to present at the LGN Events A La Mode catwalk show at London Fashion Week this month and with Suwaidi's passion and drive, it is sure to be one hell of a show.
Check out http://www.seencouture.com/
Images from http://seencouture.blogspot.com/