Lizzo and Marc JacobsCostume Institute Benefit celebrating the opening of Camp: Notes on Fashion, Arrivals, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA - 06 May 2019

Fashion Trust Arabia named the first round of judges for its second annual awards, which will take place in Qatar on March 25. The announcement was made on Sunday night during a cocktail hosted at the Embassy of Qatar on Paris’ Right bank.

Hosts of the event were FTA founder Tania Fares, Carine Roitfeld, Elie Saab, Farida Khelfa and Mrs. Eman Al Kuwari, wife of the Qatari ambassador to France.

Roitfeld, Saab and Khelfa were among the 21 judges revealed, alongside the likes of Alber Elbaz, Christian Louboutin, Elizabeth Saltzman, Gaia Repossi, Laura Brown, Marc Jacobs, Michèle Lamy, Naomi Campbell, Olivier Rousteing, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Thom Browne, Tory Burch and Giancarlo Giammetti.

A second round of judges will be announced in February.

The judges will choose five designers from categories including eveningwear, ready-to-wear and accessories. The FTA, which is a nonprofit project aimed at supporting talent across the MENA region, received 570 applications this year.

Winners receive up to $200,000 in financial grants alongside business, operational and strategic support from FTA partners.

Feres noted the importance of the FTA in introducing designers in the region to each other. “It puts a whole community together,” she said, also ticking off the mentoring and exposure that the trust brings.

Daki Marouf, cofounder of accessory label Sabry Marouf, which won the bags award in 2018, said: “It is absolutely important to be championed by those who are more accomplished, because it is very hard to break through the noise of this industry.”

Having won the FTA award has had positive effects on his business.  Marou said: “We’ve gotten retailers. We are being contacted all the time by press now, and it’s really helping spearhead the brand to the next level.”

Zineb Britel, co-founder of luxury footwear label Zyne, which scooped the shoes prize last year, said the FTA has been highly supportive, with events and mentorship. “They’re really following us, how we’re evolving,” she said.

“Thanks to the prize, we opening our cooperative of women artisans, where we are going to give lessons of embroidery, beading and hand-woven techniques,” continued Britel. “We are accepting women who have no education, so it’s growing this whole group of artisans we have in Morocco.”

Khelfa stressed the importance of the FTA. “It gives a lot of hopes and dreams to the young people,” she said.

Roitfeld explained she finds it exciting to be involved in such a cross-cultural experience.

“My heart is a lot in the Middle East,” said Lamy, adding that as a judge, “finding a pearl would be so good.”