Fashion Trust Arabia judges meet finalists over Zoom

LONDON — Five young designers have scooped this year’s Fashion Trust Arabia awards, which took place online due to lockdown measures from the coronavirus.

The winners are the Sudanese designer Omer Asim, who received the ready-to-wear category; Ammanii, who won in the jewelry category; footwear designer Andrea Wazen, who was named accessories designer of the year, and Yousef Akbar, who took home the award in the dedicated eveningwear category, while the new Franca Sozzani Award for emerging talent was given to Zeid Hijazi.

The designers were chosen from 25 finalists by a judging committee that included the likes of Christian Louboutin, Yoon Ambush, Diane von Furstenberg, Alber Elbaz, Elizabeth Salzman and Olivier Rousteing, all of whom met the designers via a series of Zoom conferences held last month.

Each winner will receive financial support of up to $200,000, as well as industry mentorship and the opportunity to sell their spring 2021 collection through FTA partner Matchesfashion.com.

Despite the cancellation of the awards ceremony, which was set to take place in Qatar in March, the FTA said it wanted to forge ahead and give international exposure to Middle Eastern talent.

“What is really special about this year’s awards is how much they highlight the diversity of talent that the MENA region holds. We met individuals from 13 Arab countries who, even in the most testing of times, showed their drive, passion and creativity,” said FTA cofounder Tania Fares.

Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, FTA co-chair and chairperson of Qatar Museums, also highlighted the importance of continuing to work on developing the MENA region’s creative industries.

“We can and must keep building the infrastructure, as well as the personal and business relationships, that enable these creative people to flourish. We see our future in their drive for innovation,” she said.

The FTA has also created a fund to help designers affected by the COVID-19 crisis and has been supporting the initiative through a social media campaign dubbed “I Stand With Creatives” where users are encouraged to tag and promote their favorite Middle Eastern designers.

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