Table of Contents

Publisher & Editor-In-Chief Chief Executive

Yousuf Jassem Al Darwish Sandeep Sehgal
Executive Vice President

Alpana Roy

Vice President

Ravi Raman
Editor

Editorial
Sindhu Nair
Chief Fashion Correspondent

Debrina Aliyah

Senior Correspondents

Abigail Mathias Ayswarya Murthy Ezdihar Ibrahim Ali

Arena
Tune In

Arena Qatar
From There to Here Comeback Kid

Correspondent

Sabrina Christensen

art
Senior Art Director

Venkat Reddy

A trio of female-fronted bands are not so quietly making some of indie rock’s most innovative music. Photographs by Sebastian Kim. Styled by Michael Philouze. Text by Matt Diehl.
69 On the Road

Parisian designer Stephane Rolland debuts his pret-a-porter collection in Abu Dhabi. By Debrina Aliayah.
74 A Merged Experience

Jason Wu has staked his reputation on designing polite, ladylike clothes for Hollywood good girls and the first lady. But he’s finally ready to show his wilder side. By Mickey Rapkin. Photographs by Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao.
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A design dialogue that contemplates the need of design and the importance of context. By Sindhu Nair. Photographs by Rob Altamirano.
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Haute Couture, the best bespoke handmade clothing, with dresses costing upwards of $100,000 is undergoing a metamorphosis to embrace its new clientele from Asia, Russia and the Middle East. This beast is not extinct. By Alexandra Kohut-Cole.
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Deputy Art Director

Hanan Abu Saiam Ayush Indrajith

Assistant Art Director Senior Graphic Designer

Maheshwar Reddy

Photography

Rob Altamirano

Marketing and Sales
Senior Manager – Marketing

Zulfikar Jiffry Thomas Jose

Assistant Manager – Marketing Media Consultants

Hassan Rekkab Lydia Youssef

Document

The artist Konstantin Kakanias takes in the haute couture shows in Paris.
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Kanwal Baluch Accountant Pratap Chandran Bikram Shrestha Arjun Timilsina Bhimal Rai Basanta P

Marketing Research & Support Executive

Sr. Distribution Executive Distribution Support

T, The Style Magazine of The New York Times
Editor in Chief

Deborah Needleman
Creative Director Deputy Editor
clockwise from top left:sebastian kim, rob altimirano; JESSICA HAYE AND CLARK HSIAO.

Patrick Li

Whitney Vargas
Fashion Director at Large

Joe McKenna

Managing Editor

George Gustines
Photography Director

Nadia Vellam

The New York Times News Services Clockwise from top left: Toronto band Diana’s singer Carmen Elle, wearing Dries Van Noten coat, QR6000; the creative corridors of VCUQatar; the designer Jason Wu playing roulette at the Wynn in Las Vegas; from Stephane Rolland’s new pret-a--porter collection.
General Manager

Michael Greenspon
Vice President, Licensing and Syndication

Alice Ting

Vice President, Executive Editor The New York Times News Service & Syndicate

Nancy Lee

COPYRIGHT INFO
T, The New York Times Style Magazine, and the T logo are trademarks of The New York Times Co., NY, NY, USA, and are used under license by Oryx Media, Qatar. Content reproduced from T, The New York Times Style Magazine, copyright The New York Times Co. and/or its contributors 2013 all rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed within T-Qatar are not necessarily those of The New York Times Company or those of its contributors.

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Gary Caesar Jessie Sandler

Quality Qatar

Glitter Rules

Shining Bright
Gold prices have gone on a downhill journey this year, but devaluation of the precious metal has little bearing on its cultural significance and its growth in the Middle East.
By DEBRINA ALIYAH

Lion Bracelet in Gold, Ziwiye, Iran.( 8th - 7th century). (Louvre Abu Dhabi/Thierry Ollivier) This bracelet is rightly considered to be one of the major masterpieces of Iranian gold work. The body of the bracelet is made of a thick curved bulrush. At the centre of the curve the edges widen to form a lozenge, on which are placed two symmetrical pairs of high-relief hieratic lion cubs lying down on either side of the central area. But most remarkable are the two full-round sculpted bristling adult lion heads with open mouths, placed at each end of the bracelet. The opposition of the two figures, a classic arrangement in the ensemble into a real animal scene, in the purest Iranian tradition.

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Photo credits : Lin Yi, courtesy Cai Studio; Rami kadi, lama hourani’s gold earrings, thierry ollivier.

When prices of gold peaked at almost impossible levels during the 2008 financial crisis and hovered comfortably at the apex, for a few years, global retail gold sales stagnated. The speculative nature of the price of gold also means the more discerning clients can afford to wait; there is always a better time to purchase gold. And the time is now. As gold prices began to normalize this year to pre-crisis levels, gold is quickly regaining its status as the precious metal of choice in the Middle East. The spending behavior of the nouveau riche is well documented these days, and gold seems to be at the center of it all. Indulge in a QR200,000 gold leaf cupcake, style the iPad with a QR10,000 24-karat gold cover, and, if you wish, you can even pimp up your washroom adventures with a QR1,600 24-karat pill that will turn your waste shimmering bright gold! The Arabs have long had a unique love-hate relationship with this precious metal. Strictly according to the teachings of Islam, gold is forbidden for Muslim men and was often only used in jewelry for their womenfolk. The Prophet Muhammad disapproved of gold jewelry for men and instead encouraged silverware. But the traditional livelihood of Bedouin Arabs that revolved around traversing the desert required their assets to be protected from the harsh weather of the region. Gold, as compared to silver, is much more resistant to the environment, and many heirloom jewelry passed down from mothers to daughters have survived till this day. Gold jewelry became the ultimate status and social symbol for Arab women, forming the main part of a woman’s dowry. A Bedouin bride carried her entire wealth on her in the form of adornments and more gold was bestowed when she became a mother. Arab men, realizing the value and durability of the metal, began adorning their swords and personal estate with gold, something that was permissible in the religion as long as it was not jewelry. The movement gave birth to a highly profitable industry prevalent across the Gulf practised by the modern-day, skilled goldsmith with polished techniques passed down through generations. Gold souqs form an integral part of old cities and are the preferred marketplace for locals when it comes to buying gold. Paving its way towards modernity, Qatar’s new Gold Souq opened last year in Souq Waqif and is a tourist attraction while attracting locals too to this market.

Detail of Cai Guo-Qiang’s installation, Ninety-Nine Horses, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, 2011. Commissioned by Mathaf as part of Saraab exhibition last year in the museum, the artist was inspired by the number ninety-nine, because it represents infinity in the Chinese culture and the ninety-nine names of Allah in Islam. Horses are drawn with gunpowder exploded onto paper while gold-leafed horses are hung from the ceiling and seen galloping into space. Art discussions have theorized that the gold was used by the artist to reinforce the artwork’s reference to the universal, historical and spiritual.

24 Karat Gold Embroidered Couture Dress by Rami Kadi : The Lebanese couture designer Rami Kadi made headlines in the regional press when he dressed celebrity Myriam Fares in a custom couture gown embroidered in 24-karat gold. Fares, a big supporter of Kadi, wore the gown to appear on a local talk show. Kadi is one of the rising couture designers in the Middle East who favor the use of golden elements in his designs.

Gold Pendant with Quran verses by Dibaj Oman Oman is rich in traditions and jewelry culture cultivated through its unique geographical location at the meeting of South Asia with the Middle East. Traditionally Omani women would be heard before they were seen, as they would wear heavy gold jewelry that produced sounds when they moved. The practice of wearing gold jewelry with inscriptions of Quran verses serves to protect and ward off evil. Ecuestre Drop Earrings in Yellow Gold, Amethyst and Diamonds. Carrera y Carrera pays homage to the majestic Andalusian horse in its latest bespoke collection. The horse, a much revered symbol in Arabian culture, was a form of livelihood for the Arabs and in modern times,is part of the equestrian hobby.

Gold Souq, Souq Waqif, Qatar. The new Gold Souq that opened in 2012 was an initiative by the Qatar Chamber to refresh the gold trade in the country. The new gold market retains old architecture and gold traders from the previous souq. The souq is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.

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PHOTO CREDITS: DIBAJ OMAN, ROB ALTAMIRANO, CARRERA Y CARRERA, ROB ALTAMIRANO.

Gold Mosque, Katara Cultural Village, Qatar. The highlight architectureal piece of the cultural village is the Gold Mosque, a structure tiled completely in gold mosaics and designed with Ottoman influences. The mosque glistens in glittering gold in sunlight and features a distinctive golden minaret. The mosque was built as part of the Katara Cultural Village project that was launched in October 2011.

Arena Qatar

French Connection

From There to Here
Parisian designer Stephane Rolland debuts his pret-a-porter collection in Abu Dhabi.
By DEBRINA ALIYAH

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he late Arab visionary Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who founded the United Arab Emirates, left an imprint on Stephane Rolland when he was just a child. The Emir of Abu Dhabi, who was also the first president of the UAE, shaped the country into one of the world’s powerhouses and captivated the aspiring dreams of a young Rolland. When the first offer to house Rolland’s inaugural pret-a-porter boutique in Abu Dhabi landed on the designer’s desk, he was startled by the strange twist of fate. For years he had been intrigued by the nation built by Sheikh Zayed, and now he had been given a chance to shine in that very city. “It was a simple decision,” says Rolland as the Middle East region had always been his most lucrative market, and the rising luxury capital of Abu Dhabi offered the niche that the almost-tired Dubai could not. “Abu Dhabi is elegant. It is discreet and private, and it is more appropriate for the vision I have. This first boutique has to be emblematic of my image, and as a tribute to the Middle East, I wanted it to be here before Paris,” Rolland says. Beyond just pure adoration for Sheikh Zayed, the decision was cemented by the fact that Rolland has been making dresses for the who’s who of the Emirates for the past decade. He may not have had the opportunity to meet the ruler himself, but he was wildly excited when he met many of Sheikh Zayed’s family members. He recalls a chance encounter with a client from Abu Dhabi in his couture atelier, where he was effortlessly praising the Arab ruler as he showed her the portrait of Sheikh Zayed hanging in his office. The woman then

HAUTE COUTURE: (right): Rolland’s latest couture collection presented in Paris, (bottom): the finale bridal gown at the haute couture show.

revealed that she was a daughter of the late emir. “I was shocked, and unbelievably elated. I deeply revere the man for his pragmatic work in the region,” he says. The world’s first Stephane Rolland pret-a-porter boutique now sits at the entrance of Etihad Towers, a collective of luxury offices, apartments and retail space. One of the towers in the development is the tallest building on Abu Dhabi Island, a reflection of the newest and latest that is rapidly turning the emirate into the next retail playground after Dubai. But while fashion has turned style makers into celebrities all around the world, in the Middle East, sophisticated buyers of fashion still remain anonymous, not only to the world, but sometimes even to the people who are selling them the season’s latest picks. “It is a very interesting phenomenon and it is very unique to this region. Clients will call the boutique to have the latest look books sent to them. They take their time to pick the pieces and will come back with their measurements and payment details. The buying takes place at home, with most of them, never even stepping into the boutique,” Rolland explains. Odd as it may seem, this has allowed for a more

personalized and intimate way of serving clients for Rolland and his team. Relationships are built over time, and the singular focus on constructions of clothing strips away prejudices and assumptions about regional clienteles. Attention is brought back to the basics of making the perfect piece for individual women. Inside the boutique, it is easy to mistake the space for a French atelier, for the DNA of the preta-porter collection is strongly reminiscent of Rolland’s haute couture work, and the interior gives a luxurious picture of a Parisian apartment on a warm summer day. Designed by Thierry Lemaire, it is a minimalist vision of space marrying both the elements of warm and cold. Heavy carpets set off by metal finishes with wood and marble giving life to the boutique. “I want people to be comfortable where you can lounge, have a drink, read books and have great conversations. Unfortunately smoking is frowned upon these days, but if I could, I would,” he says. The first pret-a-porter collection was released just before Ramadan this year, with a heavy focus on kaftans and sculpturally strong and simple dresses. It drew raves and praise from regional clients and press, many ecstatic that the collection

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Arena Qatar

French Connection

ART IN DESIGN: (far left): The interiors of Rolland’s boutique in Abu Dhabi, designed by Thierry Lemaire, (right): glimpses from Rolland’s preta-porter collection.

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Pics: Courtesy Stephane Rolland

is an extension of his couture pieces, rather than a diffusion line that has not proved to be a popular strategy with die-hard fans for some luxury brands. And, taking things into a completely different direction alltogether, Rolland is shying away from the seasonal fashion calendar. The fromwill see up to ten capsule collections yearly, with no clear distinctions between spring and autumn. Understanding this strategy requires an insight into his core clientele, affluent jet-setters who travel all year-long. “I don’t see why I should do that (producing distinct spring and autumn collections). My clients are from all over the world, and they travel all the time. They need cashmere and linen at the same time as they trot all over the globe. And realistically, world weathers are becoming more temperate and unpredictable,” Rolland explains. The mystique behind Rolland’s popularity in the region defies the stereotype of the typical Khaleeji woman. In a land where Anna Dello Russo’s “more is more” philosophy rings even truer than Italian Rococo influences, Rolland’s clean and sleek silhouettes seem a world apart. For a designer whose deepest impression of the ultimate sex bomb is the tuxedo-wearing woman of the Yves Saint Laurent era, it would have been an unlikely formula to work in the Middle East. And yet, the women of the Gulf surprise. “The Stephane Rolland woman is an intellectual who understands my sartorial language and my philosophy. Of course, I have observed that buying has changed in recent years for the better. They now have a better knowledge and know what they want, but there will always be

“I don’t see why I should be producing distinct spring and autumn collections,” says Rolland, “My clients are from all over the world, and they travel all the time.”
women who want tacky dresses and they will go to tacky brands!” Rolland quips. This year’s foray into the cut-throat world of prét-a-porter has been a long homecoming plan in Rolland’s blueprint for his eponymous label. The designer is a self-professed purist, someone who references the likes of Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior, design legends of the past, as models for his own ventures. Following the footsteps of these titans, Rolland wanted the world to see his signature and his sartorial message in his couture work before developing off-the-rack options. From a business perspective, luxury wear and haute couture will only become more coveted in times of economic crisis as Rolland feels quality trumps all when decadence is not an option. The French designer has been at the forefront of the wave of fashion labels who have responded aptly to the changing world economy, turning their keen creative eyes to the cities of Hong Kong, Moscow and Dubai and away from established traditional European markets. And yet, one must remember that the surge of demand from new economies is to emulate the great Old World symbols of luxury, namely Parisian haute couture. Rolland, who is a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the trade union of haute couture designers in Paris, is fiercely protective of the savoir faire ( a term he assures me has no adequate English translation) of the Parisian dressmaking techniques. The world might think haute couture to be increasingly irrelevant, but Rolland knows, that with education and knowledge, clients will always revert to Paris. “We are going through a cycle of life and economy. Haute couture collections now are going back to the founding eras where cut and volume is king. Emphasis on femininity and body shape is more important than elaborate tailoring or embellishments,” Rolland says. In this new world where fast fashion and nondescript gossip seem to flourish, the credibility and fortitude of Rolland’s principles are deeply gripping. The art of persuading a Saudi princess to pick a tuxedo over a fairytale ball gown and the seduction of Carmen Dell’Orefice on his couture runway to represent timeless beauty remains a realm only a true Parisian couturier can enter

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Coat: Double faced cashmere coat with cape in black colour. Price on request. Skirt: Silk organza skirt with goat suede fringe in black colour. Price on request. Lulu clutch: Clutch in mat Crocodile Qatar Burgundy colour. QAR 66000. Faried boots: Cigh ankle boots with a 13.5 cm Wave heel and 3 cm platform in black Haras leather. QAR 5100.

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the birth of A qatari brand
From the land of oil and gas comes QELA, A new luxury offering that tries to seize the fashion spotlight away from the West.
TEXT By DEBRINA ALIYAH photographs by karl moreto AND rob altamirano (SPECIAL TO TQATAR)

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INTERIORSThe boutique occupies two floors at The Pearl-Qatar.

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here are a million and one ways to jump-start a luxury brand. Reviving the “heritage” of posthumous fashion legends seems to be the preferred choice. While we delve deep into appreciation for the archived works of Schiaparelli and Halston, the reality of contemporary brands taking after storied legendary names is often more aligned to marketing objectives than design visions. Is there really no room in the industry, to move forward and to put the focus on cultivating of new visions, and in turn creating new legacies for the generations after?

The answer lies in the workshops that form the backbone of QELA, a homegrown Qatari luxury brand that has been thoroughly researched and constructed over the past three years. In the workshops, craftsmen with impressive experience and skills speak with much enthusiasm and energy about this rare opportunity to truly create something original. To be part of such an exceptional initiative, these craftsmen had no qualms in leaving the comforts of the established couture industry in Europe to come to Qatar. And in these local workshops, the magic begins in crafting products where quality is foremost and the birth of a new

brand — imminent. QELA comes from the name “Kahilah”, given to a breed of Arabic horses known for their beautiful eyes that have the appearance of wearing kohl. With such a strong Arabic identity to its name, it is easy to assume that QELA would steer towards a traditional design brief, but the collection is surprisingly contemporary and subtle. Adopting a couture approach in delivering the final pieces to the client, the inaugural collection presents wearable pieces that women from all over the world could identify with. This design accessibility is precisely the focus that QELA is founded on as part of its quest to emerge as the

COMING TOGETHER: Al-Nasr (far right), works closely with the artisans of the workshops to develop the final design brief for QELA.

next big global luxury brand. “It embodies an international style married with understated Arab influences and so it represents straightforward, modern elegance with a sense of modesty and intimacy,” explains Haya Al-Nasr, vice-chairperson and managing director of Qatar Luxury Group (QLG), the institution behind QELA. There is a strong camaraderie among the design team that works to make this DNA shine through. QELA eschews the fashionable trend of presenting a single creative director as the face of the brand; rather focusing on the synergy between the design studio and the workshop expertise to produce final collections. In keeping with the cultural mix of the country Qatar itself, there are talents from all around the world in the workshops thus making the creative process a unique experience. On the walls of the workshops, translations of couture terms across several languages are posted to assist with communication. “The workshops, are indeed a special place,” says Al Nasr, “The environment we have created in our studio and workshops, where we have brought together some of the world’s most talented craftsmen and provided them with the time and resources to create pieces of the highest standard, is highly conducive to creativity. Our designers come from all over the world, and there is an intimate relationship between the

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products and their craftsmanship.” With all the right expertise in place, it is no surprise then that every item in the collection, from a couture dress to a pair of calf leather sandals, stands testament to quality workmanship. Only materials of fine standards sourced from around the world, including handpicked crocodile skins, and gemstones from non-conflict zones, are used. All special orders, exotic leather pieces, jewelry and couture garments are produced right here in Qatar, a true mark of luxury in today’s mass factory production. To let the products speak for themselves, there are no emblazoned logos on any of the items, only a small personalized engraving plate is placed inside the leather goods if requested. The letter ‘Q’ is etched inside all QELA diamond jewelry to certify that it has been handcrafted according to timehonored traditions of cutting and setting. Beyond just the making of products, the building of legacy and heritage is the inherent process that is happening behind-the-scenes of QELA. Artisans like Didier Larue, a jeweler who has spent 25 years at Van Cleef & Arpels, couturier Gil Picard, who has worked with the biggest French houses; leather goods expert Guillaume Bernard de Bayser, who is a member of the Compagnons du Tour de France; and shoe specialist Aram Khajadourian, form the core group of technical

Jacket: Leather Mashrabiya lambskin jacket, price on request, Skirt: Wool skirt with front pleat, price on request, Top: Silk Draped neck top, price on request, Elyah handbag in young bull leather,QR16,200, Fatien sandals with rings, QR3660.

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HANDMADE: Clockwise from top, The couture clothing workshop where custom orders are made, 1796: Crocodile leather clutches bearing the signature clasp of QELA, the moodboard in QELA.

“Our designers come from all over the world, and there is an intimate relationship between the products and their craftsmanship”

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WORKMANSHIP: clockwise from top, a haven of fine leathers in the workshops, Qatar-based fashion designer Selina Farooqui is one of the team members in the clothing workshop, all special orders, exotic leather pieces and prototypes are made here, workshops provide an opportunity for Qatari talents to develop their technical skills,QELA secured its own leather cuttingmachine and Gil Picard is head of the couture clothing workshop and brings more than five decades of experience working with various couture houses.

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DETAILS : Clockwise from left, Didier Larue, a jeweler who has spent 25 years at Van Cleef & Arpels, is the head of the jewelry workshop, Guillaume Bernard de Bayser, a member of the Compagnons du Tour de France, heads the leather making workshop, members of the Compagnons du Tour de France working in QELA as part of their training.

masters who are passing on their art to the new budding new talents of the QELA team. Education and sustainability form a big vision for the brand and so is providing the platform to nurture and cultivate the next generation of artisans. “We don’t want the invaluable craftsmanship that is now an integral part of QELA to fade away,” says

Al-Nasr, “Our vision is to accommodate highly talented designers, and to support the development of Qatari talent.” From a sustainability perspective, Qatar, being a desert country is no stranger to careful management of natural resources, something that has been incorporated into the brand’s operations.

UNIQUE Clockwise from top, The letter ‘Q’ is etched inside all QELA diamond jewelry to certify that it has been handcrafted according to time-honored traditions of cutting and setting, de Bayser shows the crocodile leather and its quality.

The first QELA boutique opened its doors this month at the prestigious The Pearl-Qatar. Staying true to its signature, the facade is exquisitely discreet, covered in a mashrabiya wall feature with just two small signs of the name “QELA” in both Arabic and Roman letters to the side of the entrance. The boutique, set in deep colors, is spacious and designed to emulate the home of an art lover. Lounging sets with ottomans and side tables with reading lamps further reinforce the welcoming nature of the space like the hospitality of a Qatari home. The finishing stroke of design identity is the paintings of renowned Qatari artist Ali Hassan that hang on the walls of the store. This is symbolic of QELA’s emphasis on its association with art as an international language understood by all. With this first establishment, the brand wants to communicate to the world its design vision and to share the experience of a new legacy. The location of Qatar at the crossroads of East and West gives QLG a geographical advantage in identifying emerging fashion trends and new markets. Brand awareness will be the main
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objective and when that is achieved, the label is confident that its quality offerings will create a loyal fan base. “The second boutique will be in Paris. The first collection embodies these values as part of a multicultural brand. We are confident that we are highly relevant to a discerning international clientele who are very interested in what we have to offer, regardless of their geographical location or nationality,” says Al-Nasr. With strong, yet realistic ambitions, QELA seem to have found its groove for now by setting the wheel in motion with strong foundations. The creation of the workshops, establishing high benchmarks and a clear process of creation for its products is truly admirable and may just be the formula for the building blocks of a successful global luxury brand. If anything, perhaps, Qatar has created an opportunity for its budding designers, as a learning post, and give them hope that their design dreams and careers will not, like many, be just a one-season wonder.

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