FASHION CONNECTS FRANCE AND BAHRAIN

The much anticipated final fashion show of Fashion Week Paris to Manama will take place this month and we’ve got all the details.

The third edition of Fashion Week Paris to Manama (FWPM), an initiative from the French Embassy in Bahrain, took place from October 21 to 26, 2023, and the final fashion show happens on February 1. During the week dedicated to fashion, a series of workshops and a competition were held on the topic: The Journey of the Abaya from Yesterday’s Culture and Heritage Outfit to the Sustainable and Fashionable Piece of Tomorrow.

By organising the third edition of FWPM, the French Embassy confirms its longstanding commitment to promoting young talents in the country and contributing to the consolidation of a creative and sustainable fashion industry in the Kingdom together with the best French, Bahraini, and regional partners. Bahrain, like France, is home to a wealth of talent that deserves to be better known – ‘Make it Iconic’ as they say in France.

Before October’s week-long FWPM, a local jury composed of Noof Alshekar (NS by Noof), Sara Noorudin (JAY) and Mervyn James (Maraya Training Center) selected the 15 designers to participate in the programme.

The chosen talents received mentoring sessions on technical and creative aspects from the local jury and Razan AlArayedh (Razan AlArayedh fashion brand founder) to refine their creations to be showcased at the end of the fashion week. To prepare for the final show, the designers met Donya Al Mousa, stylist and creative consultant from TPBT, and her team to discuss scenography and accessories to complement the outfits, as well as Amal Sanad Al Makna (founder of Kyan Jewellery), who created customised pieces for each designer’s masterpiece. Participants’ star creations were inspired by the competition theme and judged by the jury. They also worked together with the MB Models International team for fittings and a rehearsal.

On October 21, the designers presented their masterpieces to a jury including local and international experts and representatives: Huda Al Alawi (Director of Communication and Promotion, Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities), Faisal Al Arayedh (Associate Director – Creative Sectors, Tamkeen), Hamid Alasfoor (General Manager, Maraya Training Center), Nada Alawi (CEO and Creative Director, ANNADA), Professor Jean-Pierre Al Esmar (Academic Vice President, Royal University for Women), Alexandra Von Canisius (Head of Retail, Tyrano and Saks Fifth Avenue), Marie-Laure Charrier (Deputy Head of Mission, French Embassy in Bahrain), Paul Kaplan (Fashion Design Teacher, Institut Français de la Mode (IFM) Paris), Jason Muller (Hydur Workshop), Nezha Najih (Business Development Director, Marya Training Center) and Denis Ravizza (Co-Founder and Art Director, ESMOD Dubai).

The following day, the 15 selected designers individually met the three international experts: Denis Ravizza, Paul Kaplan and Yaser Albeer (founder of the Designers Hub Dubai and Creative Director, Yaser & Mayasa Co.) at the Pearling Path Visitor and Experience Center. Each presented their six-piece collection created for the final show of FWPM and received valuable feedback and advice on how to improve it.

Throughout the week, the designers had the opportunity to participate in intensive workshops and talks at the +973 Artisanat Creative Entrepreneurs premises, which is an incubator for creative talents. And the international experts met with Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design students of the Royal University for Women to talk about their experiences and careers and enrich the young people’s knowledge about the field of international fashion.

The climax of this exciting FWPM is the long-expected fashion show that happens this month. It combines creations from last year’s competitors and the new talents of FWPM 2023. The final show exhibits the five awarded designers from the 2022 edition with their new capsule collections, as well as the 15 selected 2023 designers with their six-piece collections and masterpieces. The winners for 2023 will be revealed and given their respective awards.

The FWPM 2023 show is hosted by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) and will take place at the Pearling Path Visitor Center in Muharraq. The FWPM 2023 is organised by the French Embassy in Bahrain and supported by Tamkeen, in collaboration with +973 Artisanat Creative Entrepreneurs, Maraya Training Center, Institut Français de la Mode (IFM) Paris, Alliance Française Bahrain, ESMOD Dubai, The Designer’s Hub Dubai, Yaser & Mayasa Co. and the Royal University for Women. Moreover, the FWPM 2023 is endorsed by more than 35 strategic partners and sponsors from Bahrain.

OHLALA had the opportunity to talk to Denis Ravizza and Yaser Albeer when they were in Bahrain to understand more about their roles in this unique initiative.

“In a mentoring situation, the main elements I am looking for are the collection’s coherence, the deepest expressivity of the collection’s concepts and the message of the story behind the creations.”

– Denis Ravizza

OHLALA – How did fashion enter your life? What is your first memory that connected you to this field?
Denis Ravizza –
Fashion entered my life by observing how my parents were dressed on a daily basis and for social events back then, they followed the latest trends and were quite daring.

OHLALA – Sharing knowledge is an important aspect of making us humans. How did you decide that teaching/ mentoring was something you wanted to do?
Denis –
Having spent most of my career working in the fashion industry as art director and creative director for various brands in Europe, America and Asia, the time came to give back all the expertise I had accumulated to the young generation of fashion entrepreneurs, either to the students of ESMOD Dubai The French Fashion Institute or to outsiders who did not get the chance to study fashion academically.

OHLALA – In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of mentoring? How do you help young talents succeed in their career paths?
Denis –
The most important aspect of mentoring, particularly in fashion, is the ability to adapt knowledge and transfer it individually, case by case, particularly in this field where each individual has a different creative mind. I help young talents to structure their creative ideas with a customised methodology which contributes to sound research and development, leading to coherent and meaningful collection concepts. Once the results are achieved and aligned with international standards, my next interventions are to support their brands through various aspects.

OHLALA – How did you get involved in the Fashion Week Paris to Manama (FWPM)? What is your view of the project?
Denis –
I was invited by the French Embassy to the Kingdom of Bahrain to be part of the jury panel, to review the selected designers’ collections, and, as an instructor, to conduct lectures and workshops with the designers. I fully support and find the project initiated by the team at the French Embassy to be very innovative and impactful for the participants. As France is historically the reference in fashion, sharing culture and transmitting expertise are key aspects of fashion.

OHLALA – When observing the creations, what key elements were you looking for? What was your overall impression of the presented pieces?
Denis –
In a mentoring situation, the main elements I am looking for are the collection’s coherence, the deepest expressivity of the collection’s concepts and the message of the story behind the creations. Another important criteria in my book is the designer’s knowledge and skills in making the garments of their collection.

OHLALA – What did you like most about being part of FWPM? Can you highlight a specific moment?
Denis –
What I liked most was the collection development workshop I conducted with the designers, which was about getting them to express and reveal creative ideas that most of them did not know they were capable of. I was amazed at seeing the participants putting in all their energy during the workshop. The most memorable moment was hearing from many of them: “You changed my life and my way of thinking.”

OHLALA – You came to mentor, but what did you learn from this experience?
Denis –
I learned how impactful the cooperation between two countries can be, Bahrain and France, in that specific case and the meaningful contribution to an individual’s personal and professional enrichment.

OHLALA – What would be your golden advice for those starting in this industry?
Denis –
My golden advice for those starting in the fashion industry is to first learn the basics from a fashion school such as ESMOD Dubai, which is only one hour away from Bahrain. A fashion designer needs creative, technical and business skills to start his journey in the fashion industry.

“In my opinion, the essential aspect of mentoring is to provide practical solutions.”

– Yaser Albeer

OHLALA – How did fashion enter your life? What is your first memory that connected you to this field?
Yaser Albeer –
Since I was 10, I used to go to my father’s textile shop in Baghdad, a 100-year family business. At that time, I was selling fabrics to ladies and I grew up with designs, colours and fashion. One of the funny memories was that the customers were not taking me seriously as I was a student in the engineering field and still going daily to the shop as I already was passionate about fashion and fabrics.

OHLALA – Sharing knowledge is an important aspect of making us humans. How did you decide that teaching/ mentoring was something you wanted to do?
Yaser –
During 20 years spent in Dubai, I noticed many local talents did not achieve their dreams due to a lack of knowledge and experience. For this reason, I thought of mentoring them and sharing what I had learned to encourage them through offering knowledge blended with experience.

OHLALA – In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of mentoring? How do you help young talents succeed in their career paths?
Yaser –
In my opinion, the essential aspect of mentoring is to provide practical solutions. In today’s world, finding any kind of information is easy and it is accessible on the internet and social media, but guidance is missing to implement and establish a sustainable business.

OHLALA – How did you get involved in the Fashion Week Paris to Manama (FWPM)? What is your view of the project?
Yaser –
The French Embassy contacted me and I loved the project since it aligns with my values of supporting local talents. Also, I appreciate their support in achieving fruitful cooperation in the field of fashion together.

OHLALA – What was your overall impression of the presented pieces?
Yaser –
I guided the designers during the one-to-one mentoring sessions throughout the creation process and confection of their pieces for the judging panel. It was evident that the designers need more guidance in order to challenge themselves to build and develop their skills.

OHLALA – What did you like most about being part of FWPM? Can you highlight a specific moment?
Yaser –
I liked the idea of sharing my expertise. Thanks to my experience in the regional market, I provided the local designers of the Kingdom with a range of wider fashion views to challenge themselves by developing their designs or changing their way of thinking.

OHLALA – You came to mentor, but what did you learn from this experience?
Yaser –
I learned a lot about the fabric history in Bahrain. It was interesting visiting Bani Jamra and discovering the weaving techniques. I learned more about the variety of fabric suppliers available in the Bahraini market. The workshops organised by the French Embassy and +973 Artisanat Creative Entrepreneurs were an amazing experience, and I look forward to further cooperation in the future.

OHLALA – What would be your golden advice for those starting in this industry?
Yaser –
Work very hard. Your fashion business can grow worldwide, but you need to learn the essential keys!

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