Fashion students from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) recently presented ‘Reach’, the 17th Annual Fashion Show, hosted by Salam Stores at The Gate Mall.

The highly anticipated annual event took place from 12–14 April, and was attended by many of Qatar and the region’s most discerning fashion followers. Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, Doha Film Institute and Reach out to Asia attended ‘Reach’ and showed her long-standing support for local and international design.

‘Reach’ celebrated the end of another academic year for the students of VCUQatar’s Fashion Design program by bringing together friends and family, VIPs, members of the press, and fashion enthusiasts from across the region to enjoy a spectacular show.

The fashion show was opened by Sandra Wilkins, VCUQatar’s Chair of Fashion Design, who reminded the students and the audience, that:

The only way to be successful is to work really hard and reach out.’

Wilkins was alluding to the theme of this year’s fashion show, ‘Reach’, which was all about inspiring VCUQatar’s talented students to excel in what is a very competitive industry, and to remind them to ‘reach above and beyond.’

Rami Al Ali VCUQatar Fashion
Rami Al Ali

Rami Al Ali, whose collections have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Aishwarya Rai, and Diana Haddad, was the guest designer at the show.

Dubai-based Rami came to international prominence in 2009 when his Spring/Summer couture collection graced the runway during Rome’s AltaRoma couture week, the same year in which The Middle East Magazine named him as one of the 50 most influential Arabs.

His latest Autumn Winter 16/17 ready to wear collection was given an exclusive showing on the catwalk at VCUQatar’s 17th Annual Fashion Show. Strong colors in classic designs were mixed with paillettes, tulle and floral applications.

The collections by the senior students displayed a variety of innovative creations, using unique materials. Samia Zar Mohammad presented a ready-to-wear collection that used pleated white, blue and black silk crepe duchess, and was inspired by modern and asymmetrical buildings from around the world.

Farzana Abedin presented a military-themed collection. She used a variety of trendy materials while incorporating Arabic script into her designs. Khulood Al Busaidi showcased her Ivory collection that combined elegant and classic white items, while adding a local touch with a traditional GCC overcoat. Joyful emotions were communicated through Aisha Al Malki’s pink, beige and green pastel collection, which featured wonderful floral prints.

Lolwa Al Hudaifi, whose focus was on black and white, presented a classic, yet trendy collection. Outfits that express class without being classic were presented by Dania Al Qwasmi, who conveyed an air of romance with her white silk collection.

Saadia Khabab VCUQatar

Kiara Hodge demonstrated her fascination with illustration by creating colourful pieces for her collection entitled, Death of the Mermaid. She experimented with acrylic ink to create unique hand-painted pieces with an environmental message.Kiara Hodge VCUQatar Fashion

Functional wear was presented to the fashion show audience by Noor Al Mannai with her ingenious double-sided jackets and detachable pockets that can turn into purses, with her collection, Attach. Detach. Al Mannai wanted to design pieces that can be customised and adjusted to everyone’s needs.

Mahnoor Ansari VCUQatar FashionMahnoor Ansari showcased Tanuvo, which used silk, floral and pearl embroidery to celebrate the multi-dimensional aspect of a woman. Sarah Wanas captivated the audience with her capes of different designs, which included a variety of patterns that created a spectacular feeling of flow. Saadia Khabab used laser-cutting machines and fabric manipulation to express her admiration for high-tech fashion. Her collection featured various see-through patterns combined with tulle and latex.

The concept of sustainability was explored by the sophomore students’ collections, which concentrated on the zero waste philosophy. Every collection had to fully use its materials without producing any waste, which challenged the students to come up with unique creations. From Bedouin tent patterns, or by incorporating whites and pastels, from Indian styles, and to black and white designs, the sophomore students showed that sustainable fashion is achievable.

Sophomore Collection VCUQatar Reach

The collections by junior students impressed the audiences. Strong Arabic elements were represented through various Islamic patterns, with some of the designs featuring a type of niqab worn by women from the GCC. At the same time students experimented with different materials such as neoprene and mesh, or they created contrasts by combining pastel-coloured pleated skirts with sneakers and denim jackets.

Milan-based fashion designer and VCUQatar fashion show jury member Kristina Spirk, who gave a well-received Crossing Boundaries lecture at VCUQatar during the week preceding the fashion show, urged the students to:

Find who you really are, and make this an essence of your development. Who we are is what defines our design and it’s the essence of the story of the creation.’

This was in evidence over the three days of the show, during which the fruits of their labours were presented to large, prestigious and discerning audiences.