LONDON — It was a long time coming.
After months of pivoting, rescheduling and devising alternative formats, Fashion Trust Arabia hosted its third annual FTA Prize on Wednesday night at the National Museum in Doha, Qatar, as a live event — the first since the pandemic began.
The jury for the 2021 prize, which aims to support up-and-coming and established fashion designers in the region, included Carine Roitfeld, Elie Saab, Francesca Amfitheatrof, Juergen Teller, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli and Moncler’s Remo Ruffini.
Virgil Abloh presented the newly created entrepreneur of the year award to Amina Muaddi, a Romanian and Jordanian accessories designer who studied in Milan. Her collections sell at retailers including Harrods, Net-a-porter, Mytheresa and Selfridges.
The 24 finalists presented their collections to the jury, which picked the winners just before the event at the M7 culture space in Doha.
Abloh is also in Doha to open a mid-career retrospective of his work at the Garage Gallery at the Fire Station. “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech” is the first museum exhibition of the designer’s work to be presented in the Middle East. It will run until March 31.
Irina Shayk and Al Jazeera TV presenter Fairouz Ziane hosted the ceremony that saw five winners receive their prizes, financial support of up to $200,000 and mentoring from FTA partners, including Matchesfashion. Matches will also be stocking the winners’ collections exclusively on its website.
The winners were Zaid Affas, Ready-to-Wear; Alia Bin Omair, Jewelry; Port Tanger (by Bilal Fellah), Accessories; Benchellal (by Mohamed Benchellal) Eveningwear; El Tayeb Nation (by Abdelgarder El Tayeb), Franca Sozzani Debut Talent Award, and A New Cross (by Agustin Nicolas Rivero), Guest Country Award, in partnership with the country of Colombia.
FTA launched as a nonprofit in 2018 under the patronage of Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser. She serves as honorary chair, working alongside co-chairs Sheikha Al-Mayassa Bint Hamad Al-Thani, and Tania Fares.
Fares organized the evening with Sheikha Al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, under the patronage of Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser.
In 2020, FTA held a digital event due to regional lockdowns and travel restrictions, and the 2021 event was originally set to take place last March in a part-live, part-digital format with a 3D virtual reality experience.
Earlier this year, the organizers decided to plump for a live format instead, so they postponed the event to November in the hope that guests, jurors and patrons could travel internationally.
At the time, Fares said a live event was important so that the designers, who are mainly based in the Middle East and North Africa, would be able to interact face-to-face with industry figures and journalists who they would not otherwise have the chance to meet.
“The whole point is to connect people, and we want the designers to have as much exposure as possible to the industry. They get so much out of it,” Fares said.
Since February, and in the run-up to the November event, the FTA has continued to highlight fashion from the region, and emerging designers’ work, on its new website, Fashiontrustarabia.com.
The site includes the FTA Pulse editorial platform, which aims to showcase Arab fashion in the wider sense with business information, features and interviews.
FTA Pulse also provides commentary, three times a week, in the form of features and regular items. It is supported with a biweekly newsletter for subscribers.
The first initiative of its kind in the Arab world, FTA was originally created to provide financial support, guidance and mentorship to emerging designers in the MENA region. Since then it has evolved into a platform that offers Arab designers the opportunity to grow and receive international recognition.
Abloh’s Doha exhibition opens on Friday. It will feature more than 55 works, ranging from the visual arts to music, fashion, architecture and design. The show was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, adapted for this presentation by Qatar Museums, and designed by, and in collaboration with, AMO.
The show is part of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture program, an annual international cultural exchange designed to deepen understanding between nations and their people.
Abloh’s show isn’t the only one opening in the Qatari capital this week: The “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” exhibition opens on Nov. 5 at the M7 hub for fashion, design and tech entrepreneurship, and will include ensembles from the private collection of Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser.