ZoulikhA el fAssi, founder of Zoul projeCts, kirk mArtin, viCe president of united fAshion CompAny, shArif bAdreddine, CommerCiAl

direCtor mbC Group And tAreQ derbAs, Gm st reGis dohA AnnounCe the fAshion news At the peArl QAtAr

Doha Fashion Frenzy!
It’s only a matter of time before Doha cements itself as the region’s fashion capital, with two high-profile happenings set to show the world just what the country is made of.
by Debrina aliyaH

64 / MARCH 2012

ZoulikhA el fAssi, founder of Zoul projeCts


“One DAY YOu Are In, THe nexT YOu Are OuT.”
THe FAMOuS TAGLIne FrOM prOJeCT runwAY wILL be GeTTInG ITS Own MIDDLe eASTern renDITIOn THIS YeAr wITH THe InAuGurAL MenA nexT TOp DeSIGner On MbC4.


wenty-four designers will be battling their design techniques combined with a good sense of entrepreneurship against the backdrop The Pearl-Qatar. It is a good dose of high fashion, high living and all the ingredients of suspense and drama that makes a good reality TV show combined into one. And what fashion enterprise would it be if it did not have the glamour and glitz of a runway show or a gala event to top it all off? The grand finale will take place at the hottest new address in town, the St Regis Doha, where the final three contestants will present their

guest judges from the corporate and fashion world will help to decide the fate of the designers. “I think it’s important in this current competitive economic environment for designers to not only excel in creative designs but also on the business aspects of their brands. Ultimately, fashion is a business and if you can’t make the business work, your label will never be able to take off. We put a heavy focus on fashion business skills, PR, manufacturing processes as well as finance to help nurture designers who are wellequipped to run their brands. For example, as an emerging designer who wants to kick-start your label, what do you have to do to attract investors?” explains Zoulikha El Fassi, the founder of Zoul Projects in an exclusive interview with GLAM. “We are looking for the creation of original designs that best represent the designers’ unique identities, be it from this region or their own heritage. We want to see that idea translated into their designs, the process of producing those designs and how they aim to market it to the international audience.” The show was created by Zoul Projects to run in tandem with The Pearl-Qatar’s Fashion Week with the finals taking place during fashion week itself. Aimed at unearthing new talents from the Middle East and Africa region, the winner will take home a storefront at The Pearl-Qatar, a business start-up budget and mentor-ship offered by Zoul Projects, United Fashion Company and Commercial Bank of Qatar. The show will be presented in Arabic with English subtitles and the participation is open to include locally-based designers who are not citizens of the Middle East and Africa region. While the show aims to unearth regional and local talents, Zoulikha is happy that the creation of the show itself was supported by Qatari personalities including the MARCH 2012 / 65

interpretations in an exclusive gala event attended by VIPs, international media and the who’s-who of the region’s fashion world. Watch out Heidi Klum, Doha is ready to take the world’s fashion centre-stage. The reality TV show is only the icing on the cake to the colossal event that is set to change the fashion landscape of Qatar. In November this year, Qatar will see its inaugural Fashion Week organised by United Development Company (UDC) and Zoul Projects, an events company based in Doha and Amsterdam. UDC is no stranger to the world of fashion and luxury, spearheading the country’s most prestigious development project The Pearl. With the stage set at Porto Arabia – The Pearl, the fashion week will become the launching pad for designers based in the region to show the world what they are made of. The Search for the Next Design Superstar The show aims to be different from similar international reality TV shows by placing an emphasis on the business process of running a fashion brand, and not just the creative aspects. In every episode, there will be a business element featured and



founder of Dados Boutique, Heba Al Okar as associate producer. Prominent Qatari corporate figure Aisha Al Fardan will also be featured as a judge while the worldrenowned Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad will be the main judge in the show. Fashion Week Extravaganza For Zoul Projects, partnering with UDC is the perfect fit as it is the most glamorous address in relation to fashion, and the developing company shares the same vision on helping to build the fashion industry of Qatar. The four-day fashion week will see catwalk shows and events in celebration of international and regional designers as well as the opportunity for emerging designers to make their mark. “Other than the international and regional names, we will also feature up-and-coming labels on the fashion week stage. The labels will be given equal opportunity as the international labels so that they will receive the same media exposure and branding exercise. Basically we are leveraging on the international brands to lend support to the new labels, something that is synonymous to our vision to promote local talents,” Zoulikha said. The fashion week will run in the format of a trade show with the attendance of international and local fashion buyers, media as well as VIP customers. Fashion TV International (FTV) is the official media partner for this colossal event. “It is a big thing for FTV to be involved in this project because they are a globally recognized media brand in the fashion industry. With them covering the event, that means the local and regional talents will have the opportunity to be seen around the world gaining recognition and publicity. The media plays an important role; for example, I really respect GLAM for its constant look-out for and featuring of new and upcoming designers.” 66 / MARCH 2012

Other than the main event, the fashion week will also see fringe events all around The Pearl, including trunk shows by local labels as well as a Fashion Night Out event, adopted from the eponymous concept from New York Fashion Week where fashionistas get to experience late-night shopping on specially designed


deals and promotions. Setting the stage for Qatar’s developing fashion industry It has been close to 15 years since the distinguished Virginia Commonwealth University extended its reach to Qatar and the local fashion industry is beginning to see the burgeoning creative results of its graduates. With the bloom of this artistic movement, the community is beginning to respond by providing the infrastructure to support the new fashion wave, just like fashion week and design competition. “There is a big need for a system and infrastructure to support the talents coming from Qatar as well as the surrounding region. Currently, there is a gap and nothing exists to push these talents to the international forefront which is the reason why we have decided to pursue this project.” “Whenever I travel and meet people from around the world, they are always asking about the creative

process and talents from this region. Even big brands are curious to see what fashion designers are doing in this part of the world. The fashion week will help to unearth and expose our talents to the world.” The search is now on for the candidates of the reality TV show and social media will be the main tool for Zoul Projects to update and announce surprises weekly about the upcoming episodes. The fashion week and the design competition are already creating a buzz among the local fashion scene and will perhaps truly cement Qatar’s next step into becoming a world’s fashion capital.

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