Hetty Feather Review at DUCTAC

Lately, I’ve been getting an insatiable hankering for a bit of culture.

I had heard rave reviews about the play Hetty Feather and so I spontaneously decided to catch the matinee show on the very LAST day at DUCTAC.

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Hetty Feather is based on the book by renowned English writer Jacqueline Wilson, whose books are world famous with over 30 million copies being sold in the UK alone.

As soon as the play started, I felt completely engaged in the plot and the creative and highly personal way it was narrated.

Set in the Victorian era, the story centers around feisty headstrong redhead, Hetty Feather who was abandoned by her mother and given up to the Foundling Hospital as a baby. The plot highlights her ongoing quest to find her biological mother as well as her relationships and experiences along the way.

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There was a very small but solid cast, with some actors playing multiple roles. This could have been confusing, but the context was made very obvious due to the fact that the actors were incredibly talented, versatile and highly multi-faceted.

The sets and scenery were simple and improv was highly relied on. This is not a disadvantage and it was still captivating because it encouraged the audience to use the art of pretend, making it even more magical. The circus scenes were particularly entrancing.

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There was an emotional roller-coaster element portrayed throughout. It had the perfect balance of pulling at your heart strings, yet not being too overwhelmingly heavy or depressing.

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Although essentially a children’s story, the content was relatable to everyone.

All humans crave their own idealistic interpretation of “happily ever after.”

Like Hetty, we go from hurdle to hurdle and just when we think we have sussed it, we get smacked unexpectedly with a cold hard dose of reality.
The play deals with this theme this beautifully, but illustrates that despite it all, everything isn’t always doom and gloom. Life has an imperfect beauty and the random nature of it should be embraced, cherished and celebrated.

It also highlights the compassion in human nature and that the pursuit of happiness is an adventure within itself. .

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Exceptional acting with a compelling, charming story.

Needless to say my thirst for culture was, indeed, quenched.

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Chanel Cruise Show Illustrations

Just incase you have been living under a rock and hadn’t heard – the Chanel Cruise Fall show took place in Dubai recently.

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It was held on an exclusive luxurious island just off the coast which was made JUST for the occasion.

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If my tone appears to read tinged with an ever-so-slight tone of bitterness, it’s because I AM still rather sore I did not attend. (super exclusive invite only!)

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Oh well! I’m over it!! All is fair in love and fashion 🙂

Now that I’ve got my emotional trauma behind me (!) Let’s talk about the collection …

The level of luxury and opulence at this show reminded me a lot of Karl Lagerfeld’s interpretation of India is his pre fall 2012 collection. (One of my favorites!)

Similarly, this one was also very lavish and plush but with a very sophisticated 1001-Nights/ Arabesque twang to it.

I liked the contemporary tailoring contrasted with the fluid billowing shapes such as the harem pants and elegant flowing tunics with ethnic shoes. Tres Aladdin!

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The signature tweed textures made cameos, both in light variations and more stronger monochrome tones. I was particularly enchanted by the folksier prints in sheer chiffon kaftans. I also loved the tribal embroidered fabric (Bedouin inspired, perhaps?)

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It wasn’t all soft and demure, though. For instance, I appreciated the odd lamé metallic trouser thrown into the mix; unexpected and added edge!

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MOST of ALL I loved those AWESOME bejewelled moons.

They added such a wonderful ethereal, exotic touch, especially paired with the models’ smouldering, sultry eye make up!

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The gorgeous fabrics and textures stirred up some creativity inside me. Here are some fashion illustrations I created of the show.

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Abu Dhabi Book Fair

I was certainly a busy bee from the 30th to the 5th of May!

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This year, I had participated in the Abu Dhabi Book Fair to promote my work as a children’s book illustrator. I was also looking for potential publishers for my latest book project. (hint hint)

I was really impressed by how huge and well organised the fair was. The illustrator’s corner was situated RIGHT next to publishers so it was perfect for my ongoing pursuit!

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The fair is not just for sitting still in the corner in silent bookworm mode, though!

Infact, it was actually quite interactive and action packed! There were lots of seminars on the agenda everyday on various topics such as culture and tourism, book launches, career strategies and so forth.

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I noticed there was some artistic activities for children to participate in so there was something for everyone!

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I must admit, I got a little bit bored of sitting around acting prim and well behaved so I decided to paint my booth walls on the last day! I always wanted to do murals on the wall for children’s room so it was great practice for me to just go to town.

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I decided to paint a mermaid – I had always done mythical fashion illustration ones in the past, so for this one I wanted her to look child like, sweeter and more cherub-y (is that even a word?? haha!)

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Here’s how it turned out!

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Although Abu Dhabi is quite a trek for us native Dubaians, it’s well worth it and I highly recommend checking it out next year!

Alright Mr Demille, I’m ready for my close up.

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I’d just like to say that in terms of being camera shy … I was awkward wayyy before Kirsten Stewart made it cool.

I know you may be skeptical as it may not seem that way with the abundance of photos I take!! It’s different when taking a photo with a camera – I’m totally cool with that! Basically – when in doubt, the secret is to adopt a “Liz Hurley Stance”. You know the drill – your weight on one leg, which comes forward. Hand on hip. Coy, close lipped smile and bada bing, bada boom!!! You just can’t go wrong with that!

Being interviewed, however, is trickier but I found it an amazing experience all the same!

Last week I was approached by Abu Dhabi TV to be featured on their fashion programme, @Fashion.

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They were filming a special episode on the art of fashion and wanted to interview me about my fashion illustrations and talk about my art blog and live drawing. I was so thrilled to oblige and the best part was illustrating live in front of a camera which they would turn into a speed painting for the programme.

One part of the experience I really took to immediately was having my make up and hair done. There’s nothing better than bouncy hair and curled lashes!!! I’m quite picky with make up, but my make up artist did an amazing job creating a slightly more dramatic yet polished look. He used Bassam Fattouh cosmetics to get the desired look. I haven’t ever used these products, but I definitely am hooked and will go back for more! I was particularly impressed with the awesome eyebrow pencil which is the perfect shade of soft brown!!!!

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The interview took place at trendy and spacious A4 Space, situated in Al Serkal Avenue. I just love how open and sophisticated it is, and I particularly adore the inspirational messages on the walls.

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I always thought on TV, the crew do quite a few takes before deciding on the final cut. The surprising thing about this interview was it was done in only one take! The producer, Georges Estephan, wanted a really natural and spontaneous dialogue with the gorgeous TV presenter, Rulan Omari. It was completely unrehearsed, candid and really nice and raw!!!

The interview itself was really breezy, but I had to do a brief solo introduction so if I seem terrified, that is because…er…I WAS!!! haha!!!

A truly wonderful day and I am really looking forward to watching it live on Abu Dhabi TV in approximately one week!!! I can’t wait to see how the final segment turned out all put together with all the other artists/designers. Yayy!! 🙂 Here’s some photos from that day!

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Fashion Forward Frolics – Part 2

Essa Walla’s show was wonderfully outrageous and truly audacious!

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Provocatively entitled “Blow,” his collection featured plenty of acid bright colours, statement prints, furs and plenty of interesting frou-frou details. I loved the ostrich feather embellishments mixed with beadwork that sparkled in the spotlight.

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The eclectic combination of textures were so unexpected and constantly kept us guessing.

Although it was a very daring and bold, there’s no doubt that there was a pinch of feminine romanticism (i.e the floor sweeping hemlines and hourglass-enhancing silhouettes) but it was unconventional femininity.

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Essa - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

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Oversized sunglasses, vintage 50’s shapes and trippy combinations – think Jackie O on LSD.

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Beautiful simplicity with a sporty, sleek twist is what sprung to my mind when describing Tahir Sultan’s collection.

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His experimental use of jersey created some very versatile draped pieces ranging from floaty maxi dresses to more structured, slick ensembles. I love the striped patterned fabrics, the “50 shades of grey” colour scheme and the simple pearl adornments for a touch of understated elegance.

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Sultan has successfully combined function with design by creating wearable pieces that are soft yet stylish – whoever said practicality has to be unsophisticated?

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Zareena’s collection was very regal with Eastern influences. The embroideries and embellishments were multi layered, ornate and refined and the silhouettes ranged from graceful and flowing to sculptural and dramatic.

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Paired with the most strikingly theatrical hairstyles, a few of her gorgeous outfits almost looked like they were from a different time and would make wonderful costumes for a fantasy film of some sort.

Having said that, quite a few pieces offered alot of coverage so they were very modest and could even be worn over the abaya just like designer herself had demonstrated.

Regionally appropriate and frankly, quite marvellous.

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Zareena - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

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To attend Amato’s show, one needs to be strong and merciless. This is because the queue for his sensational shows can get SO overwhelming. In fact, people START lining up for his show forty minutes in advance. With the huddles of people pushing and shoving, it’s like fighting a herd of aggressively bossy and highly determined sheep.

It’s survival of the fittest.

A full house crowd at the Amato show

A full house crowd at the Amato show

But just like all things in life, if the bitter ain’t bitter, the sweet ain’t as sweet.

And I assure you, it his shows are ALWAYS pretty “sweet.”

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This season was no exception. The designer was inspired by the conquests of Alexander the Great and his travels in Persia, India and Egypt.

The collection was exotic, rich and bejewelled and he enticed us all with the combination of sumptuous colours – ruby reds, emeralds and sapphire blues.

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The outfits were made from French lace and tulle, all embellished in sequins, swarovski crystals and plenty of flowers.

I loved the amazing gold tribal jewellery he used to cover the models’ faces, lending an element of Eastern mystery as they strutted grandiosely down the runway.

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Amato By Furne One - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Amato By Furne One - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

See, I told you! Good things come to those who wait.

I assure you, this is worth the wait.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Street Style/The Garden at Fashion Forward

Every time I attend Fashion Forward, I find myself getting more and more impressed by the way people dress in Dubai!

Street style really inspires me a lot – especially in my illustrations. I thought I would add a personalised twist to the blog by just taking a moment to highlight some of the best looks I spotted this season!!

Y’know … “REAL beauty from REAL women.” Kinda like the Dove campaign (only less cheesy and condescending!!)

Creative or eccentric, quirky or classic – here’s to all you gorgeous Dubai stylistas out there who are not afraid to sparkle!

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ootd - Michael Kors dress with Nihal Basha clutch

ootd – Michael Kors dress with Nihal Basha clutch

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The Garden

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Initially when Fashion Forward started, regional designers just had a small shop in the corner to showcase their work.

Since season two, the concept has evolved a great deal! The Garden is an open area situated at Fashion Forward with collections of booths and stalls dedicated to accessory designers.

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As it is, I am a total magpie when it comes to accessories and jewellery stalls happen to be my Achilles heel!! I can spend hours exploring touristy souks and checking out bits and bobs so The Garden is one of my favorite parts of Fashion Forward!

Here are a few of my favorite pieces I found this year.

Yalla …let’s browse!

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Maria Iqbal’s pop art clutches will always hold a fashionable space in my heart. This talented furniture designer creates THE most unique, humorous and wonderfully tongue in cheek pieces! The style is very Warhol and the colours are bold, trippy and acidic and I like her regional satire. I just LOVE this “I swear upon Prada” clutch.

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It gets even BETTER. This year she extended her signature style of painting onto actual garments! Just a couple of limited edition pieces which I am TOTALLY coveting. I was ITCHING to try them on and so I abducted this sexy little leather/tulle number for a little while.

How AWESOME is THIS?!

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A lot of designers get on the pop art trend bandwagon but I find that Maria Iqbal’s accessories just exude cool.

Azza Bijou’s jewellery designs are beautiful, strong and intricate and I love her Arabesque influences. She’s constantly inspired by the timeless and artistic majesty of Islamic geometry, but every year she keeps her collections fresh with new ideas and themes.

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This season she was inspired by a warrior princess theme and collaborated with Taller Marmo supplying the jewellery for his catwalk show.

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If you haven’t heard of Nathalie Trad clutches, (as they say in Mean Girls) I’m sorry but “you can’t sit with us.”

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Nathalie Trad clutches

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Just like Azza, geometric form is a strong element and she complements this by using exquisite materials like luxurious mother of pearl. Her signature is this amazing trademark lattice effect on top of most of her clutches, but this season she is branching away from that and her shapes have transitioned into sharper and more futuristic forms.

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I then wandered over to “Sarah’s Bags,” where these rather splendid Lichtenstein inspired purses caught my eye.

There are even clutches that look like shawermas!!! How ADORABLE are THESE??!?!?!

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There are even clutches that look like manakish!!! How ADORABLE is that??!?!?! They even have paper wrapping. They look SO real that I can almost taste the so-good-but-so-bad salty cheeseyness.

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Sparkly and sassy, I love the catchphrase in particular! I think every once-lovestruck girl can relate to it. Why not turn your battle scars into a fashion statement?! As well as looking awesome it’s a great reminder to always keep your position and dignity intact next time around!!!!

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That about wraps it up! Filled to the brim with style, fashion AND talent, there is never a dull moment here at FF!

Interview with couture designer Rami Kadi

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Continuing from my last blog post, here is my exclusive interview with Lebanese couture designer Rami Kadi.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

The woman I design for is a woman living a normal life in today’s world, but who stands out with her elegance and grace. She has something about her that turns head wherever she goes, leaving a trail of seduction and mystery behind. she’s a woman who blows life into the garment she is wearing.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

What are your favorite fabrics to work with and where are they sourced from?

My choice of materials/fabrics depends on both the trend and my mood, and is not specifically limited to one type of material.


The silhouettes of your couture pieces are to be marveled at. Are the constructions of such a great challenge?

Of course it is a challenge. If I don’t challenge myself I will never evolve. In fact, it is essential for my pieces to have great cuts, it is a part of my signature.

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How do you decide on your theme for each collection? Do they all have a story to tell?

In terms of creativity and inspiration, the world around me has always been a rich source of inspiration; it provides me with flashes of creativity all day long, from the moment I wake until I go to bed, and sometimes even in my dreams.

Anything can be inspiring, the music I listen to while I’m driving, interaction with people, when I’m relaxing at the beach, or reading magazines, watching other designers fashion shows, etc.

Another major source of inspiration is obtained while traveling, visiting new countries and getting acquainted with new cultures and fashion salons…

Inspiration is not only limited to my day-to-day activities, it can also be found in my dreams! I always dream about dresses or shapes and I wake up in the middle of night to draw them, and go back to sleep.
Each of my collection has a specific story and it is from that story that emerges the whole collection.

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As an example my latest collection tells the story of a sleeping beauty who wakes up from an ever long sleep and finds her self within the confines of a sumptuous castle. It is with mixed feelings of surprise, and astonishment that the gracious princess walks through the aisles of the palace, and discovers a place glowing with royal opulence and yet holding an air of modernity.

How are your feelings towards exhibiting at Dubai’s Fashion Forward this year?

I am really excited to present my new collection there, especially that it is taking place in the big hall that seats about 1000 people. It is always an accomplishment when I get to the point of the runway show.

Your collections often have some very strong fairytale elements to it. What intrigues you about fairytales in particular?

I have always loved fairytales. They leave so much place for imagination and creativity. There are so many fabrics that can be used around the theme to express the romance, the magic and most of all the royal feel.

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If you could choose any historical figure, factual or legend, from the likes of Cleopatra to Lady Godiva, to be the face of your new collection who would it be and why?

I would go for The queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese, an artist who masters the art of seduction and whose fashionism and attitude captivated me long ago. There’s something about Dita that glows with elegance and captivates everyone around her. She is the kind of women who turns heads wherever she goes.

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Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

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My fashion illustration Collaboration with Rami Kadi

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As soon as I laid eyes on the “Le Gala Des Mysteres” collection last year, I developed a deep “designer crush” on Rami Kadi and his DIVINE ball gowns. The tulle, the embroidery, the beadwork – it’s honestly what dreams are MADE of.

Imagine my sheer delight when I got a call a few weeks ago from Rami Kadi Couture in Lebanon to say that they would be interested in doing an artistic collaboration with me for Fashion Forward this year!!

I was elated and couldn’t wait to get started!

I couldn’t share any information about the upcoming collection until it was over so it was QUITE a challenge keeping it schtum.

His theme for the show this year was fairy tales and his collection had strong French Rococo elements and took inspiration from the set design of the film Marie Antoinette. It consisted of beautiful Laduree inspired colours, opulence, indulgent fabrics, decadence and femininity.

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To set the tone for his show, his idea was to print out actual illustrated mini story books which would be placed on all the seats at the runway. (800 to be exact!)

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In addition to this, those same illustrations were going to be projected onto the screen of the catwalk show before it started and the story was to be narrated live in front of an audience.

Here’s how my final illustrations turned out!!

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His catwalk show finally took place last night and it was such an exhilarating experience to see my illustrations projected onto the screen. I’m still totally buzzed from the show!

As for the collection itself, it was absolutely breathtaking. The models all wore these magnificent peony headpieces which really complemented the outfits and made it look even more theatrical and dramatic.

The embroidery was so ornate and the fabrics were plush and lavish especially the embossed damask motifs. I really liked the shade of gold he used in the collection. It wasn’t highly glossy or metallic – just a very pale subtle sheen which was far more flattering and sophisticated than straight up gold; especially combined with pale blue.

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Although the colour scheme was mainly soft pastels, brighter sorbet shades were also included which broke up the collection, keeping it from being predictable and giving it a sense of bold freshness.

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Even though the silhouettes were extravagant, they were all incredibly tasteful and well executed. I loved how luxurious and heavy the fabric looked, the way it trailed behind on the runway and how the fabric was draped. My favorite gowns were these two.

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I cannot wait to draw them!!!

There’s MORE – I’ll be publishing an exclusive interview with the designer himself in the VERY next post to find out more about his design process and inspirations.

More information will be up on the blog in a jiffy!!! 🙂

Fashion Forward Frolics – Part 1

Fashion is the art
Designers are the gods
Models play the part of angels in the dark
Which one of you would ever dare to go against
That beauty is a trade and everyone is paid

Season 3 of Fashion Forward finally kicked off today at Madinat Jumeirah for press and public.

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Outfit of the day - Dee by Dalia skirt paired with a Versace belt and quirky telephone bag

Outfit of the day – Dee by Dalia skirt paired with a Versace belt and quirky telephone bag

It was all very rock n’ roll chic at the Kage show with wild teased hair, dark lips, Bardot necklines and the odd flash of metallic. It definitely had a young, vibrant and vivacious feel.

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Intriguingly, the collection took inspiration from a specific time and event – New Years Eve, 1983 to be exact! What I really loved was the general grungy-ness broken up with baby blues, gorgeous geometric details and metallic accents.

My favorite were these two outfits. I just love the rich, opulent, oriental print and how the fabric is repeated in the peter pan collars – great sense of continuity! I like how they are edgy yet pulled together!

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The Emperor 1688 featured a tasteful and sophisticated collection. I loved their interpretation of classic English tailoring and contemporary take on Scottish tweed, wool and tartan.

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I was particularly captivated by the fur capes and the belted trench coats in this unique, rich buttery shade.

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I also liked the idea of leather harnesses over floaty ethereal dresses. It’s the perfect balance of androgynous yet feminine.

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The combination of prim bow ties, textures and their very British/Burberry-esque aesthetic – it kind of had a sexy Sherlock Holmes vibe goin’ on! Don’t you agree?

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Fictional ice queen Miranda Priestly was famously quoted for her bitchy dig in “Devils Wears Prada” where she says sarcastically says “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking (!)”

Well, I’m certain Jean Louis Sabaji’s innovative treatment of florals would make even Miranda Priestly sit up and take notice, for their collection proved that flowers CAN be inventive as well as fresh.

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Bursting with skill, handcrafted techniques were used to mimic foilage, organic textures and petals in bloom.

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Very magical. Very mythical. Very “Midsummer Nights Dream.”

I liked the ombre effects on the gowns in particular and the voluminous blush-pink rose gown was definitely a favorite of mine.

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Finally, day one closed with the Ezra Couture show. His designs are known for their buoyant, diaphanous and exquisite edge. The designer is even getting popular in Hollywood, with celebrities frequently wearing his stunning designs on the red carpet.

Starting off with soft alluring pastel hues, his collection gradually got bolder, featuring shades of sapphire with statement armour inspired pieces that sparkled in the light.

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The chiffon had such an amazing drape and the fabric was so light and airy that it almost seemed to DANCE behind the models mischievously and seductively like the flicker of a flame.

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Everyone was totally spellbound, enjoying the show – and JUST when we thought it couldn’t get any more spectacular …

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It snowed.

It was SO magnificent and the bridal wear looked so poetic and pure. We found ourselves in a winter wonderland in the middle of April.

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I watched, amazed and astounded … like a dreamer in a dream.

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Middle East Film & Comic Con 2014

#ootd - "Alice through the looking glass"   Costume rented from Dark Horse Event Management

#ootd – “Alice through the looking glass”
Costume rented from Dark Horse Event Management

I can’t explain how extraordinarily bizarre it is to have a gorilla wearing a shell-bikini tap you on the shoulder and politely ask if he may take a photo with you.

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It’s MAD. Absolutely mad.

But as Cheshire Cat quite rightly says “We’re ALL mad, here.”

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I think this statement sums up Middle East Film & Comic Con perfectly! A bit like “The Muppet show,” it’s weird, it’s wonderful and above all … it’s unpredictable – absolutely ANYTHING can happen.

One minute you are having a delightful conversation with The Grim Reaper about the weather.

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The next – you are interrupted by a collection of monsters dancing to Gangam Style!

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It’s a place where you can enjoy catching up with old friends ….

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and make a few new ones!!!!!

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I finally found white rabbit ...

I finally found white rabbit …

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Meanwhile, in the corner … an Arab looking Mario and Luigi getting up to all sorts of tomfoolery.

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Yep!!! It’s just a normal day here! Totes legit.

Mind you, I was no better … don’t you LOVE my new bazooka?!

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As well as the costumes, it’s a great place to browse through the creme de la creme of limited edition comic books, rare anime and manga memorabilia. You can spend all day here oohing and aahing over the impressive array of graphic collectibles.

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You can even mosey around casually donning a cape (and no, I don’t mean an Anna Wintour style “cape” coat, I mean, a CAPE cape). Duh.

If you’re lucky you might even spot a celeb or two from your favorite TV series. (LUCKY being the key word…I was GUTTED I missed Seth Green!)

FINALLY! You can leave the stressful world outside and let your cheeky neon streaked hair down to come out and play by getting your “game” on (literally).

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No Judgement. Just games.

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My FAVORITE part of the day was seeing the cute little kiddies in their adorable costumes. I always wanted to run away and be a disney princess at Orlando. Now I know what it feels like to be one …

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I urge you to join us at the next comic con. Loosen up that tie and fall down the rabbit hole ….

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You won’t be sorry.