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 The Grazia Style Awards Qatar illustration designed by Shamekh Bluwi

Grazia

The Grazia Style Awards Qatar illustration designed by Shamekh Bluwi

Qatar residents are being asked to vote for their favorite fashion brands, stores and beauty bloggers ahead of Grazia Arabia’s first Qatar Style Awards.

Participants can vote across several categories, including Best Qatar Department Store, Best Regional Designer, Best Qatar Shopping Destination and Best Independent Boutique in Qatar.

Following the close of public nominations earlier this week, there is now a shortlist of three choices in each category for the awards, which will take place on Nov. 21 at the Westin Doha.

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Grazia Qatar

Photo for illustrative purposes only

For example, nominees for best department store include Blue Salon, 51 East and Salam stores. And the three contenders for best shopping destination are Lagoona Mall, the Pearl-Qatar and Villaggio Mall.

You can see a full list of categories and register to vote here.

Qatar first

This is the first time that the GCC branch of the global fashion magazine brand has chosen to hold an awards ceremony in Qatar.

Grazia Qatar launched in 2014, but until now Grazia Arabia has only staged annual style awards in Dubai.

The Doha event will be hosted by British designer Alice Temperley, and it is intended to become an annual event.

Alice Temperley with models at her SS17 London Fashion Week show earlier this year

Grazia

Alice Temperley with models at her SS17 London Fashion Week show earlier this year

In a statement, Temperley said she was looking forward to being inspired by the fashion scene in Qatar during her visit to the country:

 “As a designer, I draw inspiration from my travels – the people I meet, the history I see and the culture I experience. The Middle East is so rich in all of these so I always look forward to visiting the region with creative anticipation,” she said.

Where are your favorite places to shop in Qatar, and which brands do you prefer? Thoughts?

All photos by Aparna Jayakumar for DohaFashionFridays

A new community initiative that hopes to highlight the human side of Qatar’s blue-collar expats has launched this week.

DohaFashionFridays is the brainchild of acclaimed Qatar-based political cartoonist Khalid Albaih, who described it as a cross between Humans of New York and street fashion blogging.

Speaking to Doha News, he said the idea behind it was to create a forum to show off the style of the people who build Qatar.

Qatar-based cartoonist Khalid Albaih

Stefan Ruiz

Qatar-based cartoonist Khalid Albaih

In doing so, he said he aims to break down some of the divides that exist between communities in Qatar and bring people together.

“There are so many workers now in Qatar and they move between their buses to their work sites and back again in their jumpsuits. No one really sees them or knows about them as people. It’s very dehumanizing.

They are people the same as you and me. I wanted to tell their stories,” Albaih said.

Other online photo projects in Qatar have also tried to highlight the population’s over its differences, including Humans of the Middle East and Faces of Qatar.

How it works

Fashion Fridays launched last week on Instagram and Tumblr, showcasing the first of more than a dozen men who have already taken part.

Alongside a photographer and sometimes a translator, Albaih spent several Fridays – the main day off for many people in Qatar – on Doha’s Corniche. There, they sought out stylishly dressed people and asked them if they’d like to take part.

Each post features a portrait shot of the person, along with basic details such as their name, age, job, home country and one of their fashion idols.

Albaih said he plans to expand on this to include some biography and comments from the participants.

The styles of those who have taken part so far are eclectic. One man is shown wearing a carefully tailored pink kurta, while another is dressed in a metal-studded belt and bomber jacket.

So far, the men photographed are from Nepal, India and the Philippines. Many said they were influenced by actors, singers and other public figures.

Fashion stories

According to Albaih, once the aim of the project was explained, most people were very happy to talk and get involved.

As an artist, Albaih said he is drawn to style and to stylish people.

It was during a walk on the Corniche with friends one Friday that he noticed how many of the men there were well-dressed.

Albaih is now calling for interested photographers and fashion bloggers to get involved.

Once a team has been put together, it will scout new locations around town to find and feature people.

“This is a social movement. It’s about art, it’s about fashion and it’s about bringing people together and getting to know each other better. I want to make Doha as tight a community as it once was,” Albaih, who has lived here for 25 years, added.

You can follow DohaFashionFridays on Instagram. Thoughts?

Crocodile skin bags, a hand-painted wedding dress, embroidered jalabiyas and lavish party gowns are among the highlights at this year’s Heya Arabian fashion exhibition, which launched today.

This year, more than 100 Qatari designers join 100+ other regional and international fashion brands in the women-only event.

It is being held at the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center (DECC) in Dafna/West Bay, near City Center mall.

Heya Arabian fashion exhibition

Lesley Walker

Heya Arabian fashion exhibition

The five-day program runs until Oct. 31 and features both established and emerging brands.

Due to the death of the former Emir, daily fashion shows have been canceled. However, workshops, forums and a marketplace of stalls selling wares remain open.

The exhibition expects to attract 15,000 visitors this year, organizers said.

New talent

One of the Qatari brands exhibiting at Heya for the first time this year is Kizlar Design, which is run by five sisters.

Occasion wear

Kizlar Design

Occasion wear

They’ve been working on their designs for simple but elegant party gowns and occasion wear for two years now, and are showing the highlights of their most recent two seasons, co-founder Aisha Al Mohannadi (24) told Doha News.

“We started by designing for ourselves, then people began to ask us where our clothes were from, so eventually we decided to start our own brand,” Al Mohannadi said.

The sisters collaborate on each of the designs to produce the final item, and so far have focused on evening and wedding wear.

Fabrics are bought on international trips to the US, Turkey and Holland as well as Qatar and all the pieces are designed and made here.

Additionally, designs for an abaya line are underway, Al Mohannadi added.

The collections are available to buy through Instagram for now, but there are also plans to launch a website and ultimately open their own boutique.

“Heya is one of the biggest fashion exhibitions in Qatar and people travel from across the region to visit it. We wanted to take part so we can spread the word and get more people to know our brand,” Al Mohannadi said.

High-end handbags

In contrast, this is the fourth year at Heya for experienced Qatari designer Asma Sckali, who has featured her abaya line Sckali previously.

However, it is the first time to also showcase her luxury accessories label Ckali at the exhibition.

The brand, which began in 2009, specializes in high-end, ready-made and bespoke handbags and wallets in crocodile skin, ostrich leather and calf skin.

Ckali accessories at Heya

Lesley Walker

Ckali accessories at Heya

Designed by Sckali and made overseas, they are embellished with 24 carat gold hardware and come in colors including cobalt blue, orange, yellow, forest green, maroon and black.

The ready-to-buy bags cost from QR12,000, while the embroidered and embellished jalabiya and abaya under the Sckali label start from around QR2,500.

Printed silk scarves and a new line in real fur coats – fox, lynx, sable and mink, which Sckali says are popular among women attending weddings – are also at the exhibition.

Sckali already has a shop at the St. Regis hotel in Doha, and is due to open a store at the under-construction mall at Katara Cultural Village.

In addition, an edited collection of her bags, wallets and scarves will go on sale at Harrods in London from next year, she told Doha News.

“That will be my first outlet in London. I am very happy about that. It’s a very good step for me to take a Qatari brand to London,” she added.

QR30,000 dress

Another first-timer at Heya, but an established fashion brand in the region, is UAE-based Palais des Argano.

In addition to its outlet at Wafi Mall in Dubai, the label, which specializes in Moroccan-style kaftans, abayas and jalabiyas, sells some of its collection through Salam store in The Gate Mall.

Moroccan-style evening wear

Palais des Argano/Facebook

Moroccan-style evening wear

It will also open a standalone boutique at under-construction Tawar Mall in Al Markhiya, when that opens to the public.

Owner Sara Mohamed has been designing for nine years and selling since 2012.

In addition to her ready-to-wear clothes and accessories, Mohamad also offers special occasion dresses, with prices starting from QR3,000.

One of her most exclusive pieces is a custom-made dress for a wedding henna party, featuring hand-painted images of the bride and groom.

This keepsake will set a prospective bride back around QR30,000, she said.

International brands

Nearly a dozen labels have come from countries beyond the region – including France, Australia, the UK, Indonesia and India – to exhibit at Heya this year.

For Deepika Anand, from Delhi in India, this is her first time to show her brightly-colored, hand-embroidered wedding and occasion-wear.

Indian fashion designer Deepika Anand at Heya

Lesley Walker

Indian fashion designer Deepika Anand at Heya

“I wanted to explore the market here – I’ve never been to Qatar before. Previously, all our work was in Dubai but I want to expand my wings,” she said.

Heya runs at the DECC until Oct. 31. Admission is free and strictly only for women. Opening hours are Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – 10am until 10pm; Friday 3pm until 11pm and Monday 3pm until 10pm. No children under the age of 13. The schedule of events can be found here.

Who’s going? Thoughts?