Who’s Who: Areej Naqshbandi, senior director at the Public Investment Fund

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The Saudi Fashion Commission teamed up with the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise for an event in L’Art Pur in Riyadh.

The two-day France & Fashion event on Saturday and Sunday gathered fashion fans for exhibitions, panel discussions, and training workshops with leading French fashion experts.

Ambassador of France Ludovic Pouille and CEO of the Fashion Commission Burak Cakmak attended the official opening.;

“This is why the French Embassy wanted to bring to Saudi Arabia, French talents from embroidery, fashion history, creation, and training,” said Pouille.

“This is a unique moment to gather French and Saudi experts, at a very special time, when Saudi designers are now growing, and we can see their popularity inside and outside of Saudi Arabia.”

The event included workshops for aspiring fashion designers. (AN photo)

The Fashion Commission, established two years ago, has provided increased support for local designers with opportunities and initiatives to reach a global audience.

Cakmak said: “We are happy to see that our efforts in training and education are now going beyond and countries like France are very interested in supporting talent within Saudi Arabia.”

FASTFACTS

• The two-day France & Fashion event gathered fashion fans for exhibitions, panel discussions, and training workshops with leading French fashion experts.

• Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission, established two years ago, has provided increased support for local designers with opportunities and initiatives to reach a global audience.

The event began with a presentation by Barbara Jeauffroy, the associate curator of the Christian Dior Museum on the early years of one of French fashion’s biggest icons.

“Dior, a museum, a story” revisited the designer’s childhood and explored his parents’ grand villa and the influence it had on his designs.

The event included workshops for aspiring fashion designers. (AN photo)

Panel discussions were led by Saudi fashion designers including Mona Alshebil, Arwa Alammari, Haifa AlHumaid and Bander Hawsawi, and leading French fashion experts including professors and directors from the Institut Francais de la Mode, and Nadia Albertini, the French embroiderer and historian.

Panelists considered the Kingdom’s place in the global fashion industry, its cultural influence on local designs, female participation and the future of fashion. Challenges and opportunities for designers, technology and social media were also topics.

“I believe this is the perfect place, the perfect timing for anybody, especially women to be in Saudi Arabia,” said Alshebil. “Everybody is rooting for us, everybody is helping us, the government, the Fashion Commission, the population.”

This is a unique moment to gather French and Saudi experts ... when Saudi designers are now growing, and we can see their popularity inside and outside of Saudi Arabia.

Ludovic Pouille, Ambassador of France

Alammari said: “For a fashion industry to succeed, there should be an ecosystem, and this has started two years ago, with fashion schools, and the updated curriculum of fashion majors in universities, like in PNU.

“We need more know-how. We have the minds, we have the vision, but we need to learn more about the know-how and the new technology in the industry.”

We are happy to see that our efforts are now going beyond and countries like France are interested in supporting talent within Saudi Arabia, says
Burak Cakmak CEO of the Fashion Commission

Speaking on the international perception of the Saudi fashion industry, IFM associate professor Jean-Marc Chauve said: “We can see now in magazine articles the Saudi fashion designers and their collections and brands, which didn’t exist five years ago … we didn’t hear about Saudi fashion designers then.”

The event offered training for designers, including how to structure a fashion collection, creating a brand and embroidery.

As part of its ongoing efforts to support the local designers and the Saudi fashion industry, the Fashion Commission will be exhibiting 100 Saudi brands to Paris on June 20.

“We will have a big moment that is going to spread for two weeks, with pop-ups, fashion shows, and other experiences highlighting the best out of Saudi Arabia in the heart of the fashion capital in Paris to a global audience,” said Cakmak.

Nodah, a visitor, said that the event was well organized and the talk on the Dior museum “full of useful information.”

 

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