DUBAI: On Sunday, October 6th, world-renowned designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana held their first ever runway show in the Middle East. Dubai was the Italian designers’ chosen stop on a  three -year -world tour, and they did not disappoint.

The customary extravagance of both the city and the artists was intensified when Fashion Avenue, the biggest mall in the city, was turned into a runway. The show, named Day and Night, played Arabian music and featured multicultural models strutting the runway in looks that embodied the roots of Arab fashion and culture. The event was also a celebration of the grand opening of the biggest D&G store in the UAE.

The collection was composed of 128 looks, half of which were exclusively created for and sold only in Dubai. The fashion trend heavily featured in the collection was uniquely Arab. Beautifully crafted headscarves, coordinated abayas and loose robes typically worn by women in the Arab Gulf were among the pieces that echoed Arabian Culture.

  Arab Model struts the catwalk at the D&G fashion Show in Arab inspired collection

The Middle-East, like many other regions of the world, has suffered from a lack of racial diversity in fashion. According to Riyadh based Arab News, critics have chastised the lack of Arab representation in some of the Middle East’s most influential fashion magazines. With international stars such as Gigi Hadid and Adwoa Aboah continuously dominating the covers of Middle-Eastern fashion magazines, social media users have often expressed their dismay. As one individual wrote on Facebook: “Why don’t (you) photograph actual Arab models instead! There are so many beautiful young Arab women that deserve to be on this,” in reference to a recent  Harper’s Bazaar Arabia cover.

Vogue Arabia was launched in 2016. Likewise, its international debut last year featured  Gigi Hadid on the cover, wearing a crystal embellished hijab. This sparked a lot of controversies. Hadid herself was criticized for appropriating Arab culture since the model does not identify as Muslim. Hadid, who is half-Palestinian, and–according to her Instagram account, proud of it–lashed back at the claims by highlighting her ethnic roots.

Gigi Hadid’s 2017 Vogue Arabia Cover

Despite the controversy, others praised her for representing her heritage in today’s politically polarized climate. Teen Vogue staffer Eman Bare wrote, “Vogue Arabia could have used the face of anyone, but the fact that they chose an American who is also Palestinian, whose father is Muslim, is a powerful reminder. [They] could have used [any] woman in a scarf or a Middle Eastern icon, but they used an American. To show that as Muslims, as Arabs, as immigrants, we are not what others have decided for us. We are diverse, just like Americans.”

There was plenty of racial diversity awareness in the Dolce and Gabbana show last week. The designers claimed to have always loved the Middle-East and to have a profound appreciation for the unique beauty of Arabians. Dolce told reporters at the Day and Night pre-show that he loved Middle Eastern women and that their looks reminded him of women from his hometown of Polizzi Generosa in Sicily: “The Middle Eastern woman is similar to the Sicilian woman, she is beautiful, loves a dark eyeliner and has style,”

Models strut the catwalk at the D&G fashion show in Dubai

Gabbana told Grazia Middle-East that “[the collection is] Dubai through our eyes…We want to tell the world who Dolce & Gabbana are. We love to share our style, and in every city, we try to mix the Dolce & Gabbana style with the DNA of the country. You’ll never see the same show or the same clothes anywhere else.  It’s special.” What’s more, Middle-Eastern fashion icons were amongst the crowd of guests invited to the event, including Rhea Jacobs (beauty blogger), and Karen Wazen (lifestyle blogger). The latter in fact praised D&G on her Instagram for both inviting her and bringing the show to Dubai.

This collection is certainly not the first Dolce and Gabbana custom-made show to hit the Arab fashion market. In February 2017, the designers released their abaya collection and shot the campaign in the souks of Dubai.

Photo of Arab models shooting the abaya collection in the Dubai souks

The Italian powerhouse of D&G believes that fashion is about freedom. Gabbana said, “We are not in a big multinational company or on the stock market. We can do what we want.” This creative freedom is exemplified through the collections they have created especially for the Middle-Eastern fashion market.

It is designers like D&G that empower people to express their individuality and culture through fashion. By creating designs that draw attention to the beauty of different cultural styles, the brand enables its patrons to be themselves as they engage in the art of fashion. The belief is this: Fashion is for everyone to embrace whatever he, or she, chooses.  In this way, Dolce and Gabbana are truly influential designers who give diverse cultures a voice.

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