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Emirati Designers from Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council Programme Showcase at Paris Fashion Week

Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council has announced that two of its Emirati designers who are part of the second cohort of its ‘Azyame’ Fashion Entrepreneurs Programme, have made significant steps towards international recognition as they showcase their Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 collections as part of Paris Fashion Week, from March 1-6 at AQ Market showroom.

Khulood Thani, the designer behind the BINT THANI label and Ayten Al Khayat, Founder of RAW by Ayten, are both members of the second cohort of the Azyame programme, first launched in 2016 by Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, an affiliate of Sharjah-based NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, to provide a select group of designers and entrepreneurs with the skills needed to develop and grow their fashion brands.

The year-long programme, just one of the Council’s initiatives to empower women in all craft sectors, provides a series of workshops and personalised mentorship sessions from experts and practitioners in the fashion industry, including the London College of Fashion, as well as access to showcasing opportunities, such as the prestigious Paris Fashion Week.

For the Emirati entrepreneurs, it is a tremendous opportunity to be mentored by some of the industry’s most respected figures who works with young designers and growing fashion companies to develop their business models and selling strategies.

Mentor Angela Quaintrell was extremely impressed with this year’s cohort, inviting both RAW by Ayten and BINT THANI to showcase their AW18-19 collections as part of AQ Market in Paris. Quaintrell, who has 30 years’ experience in high fashion retail and was the head buyer at luxury department store Liberty for fourteen years, helps a personal selection of young talents to succeed in what is a highly-competitive international sector.

Reem Bin Karam, Director of NAMA said: “By developing local skills and talent, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council presents highly capable and creative businesswomen with unique international showcasing prospects such as Paris Fashion Week, one of the most prestigious and high-profile fashion events of the year. It is a prime chance for Emirati designers to promote their superb innovative and inspirational concepts,” she added.

Designer Ayten Al Khayat, of RAW by Ayten, will be showcasing her new collection, ‘Terra,’ through which she explores the strength and wistful nature of women with high-end textiles and complex craftsmanship layered onto nude and navy tones from a ready-to- wear line of dresses, pants, coats and tops. The soft materials are accented with stone, leather and embroidery finishes - treasures found in the Middle Eastern sand.

Khulood Thani’s BINT THANI label will debut its latest ready-to- wear collection “Bauhaus Influences,” which creates clever layering through asymmetric and wrap silhouettes, with adaptable pieces also providing versatility. The collection carries a seasonal palette with strokes of bold primary colours such as red, white, black and green, contrasting with more industrial grey-blue and silver that express the usage of the different materials during the Bauhaus movement.

The second and on-going edition of the Azyame Fashion Entrepreneurs Programme also has a focus on the latest ethical and sustainable fashion practices, an aspect that both designers have been supported to embrace this season. In addition, as part of the designers’ commitment to the programme, each of them will ‘give back’ to the UAE’s craft sector by promoting and sharing their new-found skills and business knowledge.

This showcasing opportunity follows the Council’s most recent international partnership with luxury department store Fenwick of Bond Street in July 2017, which created a unique pop-up retail space for 10 talented designers from the UAE, five of whom were part of the Azyame Fashion Entrepreneurs Programme, who benefitted from an internationally recognized presence for each of their labels.