Saying farewell to the traditional runway and taking things quite literally underground, the Fashion Zone brings a slew of cutting edge designs to the car park of Downtown Katameya mall. Farah Hosny speaks to the designers and organisers to find out more...
Egypt has never really been at the forefront of fashion. Cutting edge sartorial ideas aren’t exactly our forte, but this is something which is slowly being reversed as the fledging fashion field in the country is slowly but surely flourishing, one new brand at a time, one new runway show at a time. The latest sartorial overload that’s set to hit the city is The Standard Chic fashion show this Friday the 12th of June, organised by The Fashion Zone. The show pools together a flurry of up and coming designers to showcase their pieces – in an underground parking lot of all places.
Yes, Karl Lagerfeld unilaterally decided to hold a fashion show in a staged supermarket, but he is the king of all things ever and that sort of avant garde thinking has rarely infiltrated Egyptian mentalities. But Mourad Allam, the man who brought you the Cairo Couture Collections at the Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers, decided to hell with the typical. “We wanted to do something new in Egypt,” he says simply. “We had done haute couture designs; this time we wanted to focus on Ready-to-Wear but more importantly, we wanted to go for something more exciting than the hotels.” So he settled on the underground car park of Downtown Katameya Mall, a fact which in and of itself effortlessly lends the show an edgy factor. “It’s the first show in the whole Middle East to be done in a parking lot. People got shocked at first but when they saw the layout they started to get excited. First impressions though, they were like ‘no no no I’m not going to a parking lot!’” Allam laughs.
He then went about curating a roster of design talents to display their works on the runway, tapping a total of 11 designers to get on board with his vision and partake in the show. Three from the US; Steve Boi, Tiffany Rae, and Chico Weber, one Lebanese designer, and seven Egyptians including Dalia Phillips, Heba Idris, Fouad Sarkis, and Ola El Gamal. “I was involved in Cairo Couture Collections which was also organised by Fashion Zone,” explains Nourine Farah, one of the designers in the show, “When he gave me the presentation about this one, I thought it was very different than what we’d expect in a normal fashion show and I liked that, but I also knew his work and the standard of it, so I decided to participate.”
Allam’s reputation for professionalism is what enabled him to nab most of his chosen designers; the ingenuity of the car park venue was not so much secondary, but went hand in hand with that. “Holding a show in a parking lot may not be new for a fashion show in general, but it’s still a very bold idea for our culture,” Hadil Ali explains. “And when it comes to showcasing your latest creations, having an incredibly professional team behind the show doesn’t really leave room for second thoughts.”
Though Allam may have selected an unusual, somewhat deconstructed, grungy venue for the show, he’s quick to warn that this is not a reflection on the clothes. “It’s not a funky show just because it’s in a car park; it’s more of a prêt-a-couture collection. Chic.” His designers encompass a range of aesthetics with the belief that good quality is a core requisite and style is arbitrary. "We chose the designers based on the quality of their work, the fabrics, the finishing...” Allam elaborates. “We leave the style to the audience.” Nourine Farah agrees, maintaining that the diversity is part of the appeal. “Everyone involved in the show has their own style; we’re definitely not the same which makes it even more interesting and broadens people’s view in what others think is beautiful.”
Each designer comprises a different style aesthetic but they all fit under the broader umbrella of summer, and that means, regardless of the designer, we can expect a Crayola-hued daydream of a show. “My collection is called Summer Madness,” Vivian Moawad tells us. “It’s going to be very colourful, lots of patterned fabrics, but it’s actually a bit more classic. My goal is always to go for elegance.” Hadil Ali’s only reveal is that the collection will encompass “fun in the sun” while Norine Farah says she’s created a “bold, edgy, technicoloured” line.