Lebanese designers dominate inaugural Fashion Trust Arabia Prize

The winners of the Middle East’s first major fashion prize were announced at a start-studded dinner in Doha, Qatar on Thursday night.

While the inaugural Fashion Trust Arabia was open to designers from across the Middle East and North Africa, Lebanese designers dominated, with Salim Azzam and Roni Helou honored for ready-to-wear; Elie Saab alum Krikor Jabotian winning for womenswear; and Mukhi Sisters coming out on top in jewelery.

Zyne, the brand that took home the prize for shoes, and Sabry Marouf, the winning bags brand, are both Egyptian.

The winners will each receive mentorship and up to $200,000 in funding for their brands.

The entrants were judged by an international panel of 25 fashion designers, models, journalists and industry insiders, including Victoria Beckham, Diane von Furstenberg, Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, who also attended the ceremonial dinner in Doha.

“Last night’s announcement of the Fashion Trust Arabia prize winners was a celebration of the incredible wealth of talent the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region has to offer and that we need to nurture,” Tania Fares, the founder of the Fashion Trust, said in an email.

In a statement, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, one of the prize co-chairs and a major arts patron, called the launch of the prize “a joyful accomplishment for our country.”

“It is the only initiative of its kind in the Arab world, creating a space to find, nurture and cultivate the most talented designers on an annual basis,” she said. “The initiative’s mentorship will help a new wave of MENA talent receive global attention, and I am confident that each of these prize recipients will add dynamism and diversity to the fashion industry.”

The prize is one of a number of recent cultural initiatives launched in Qatar. On the same day the prize-winners were announced, the 40,000-square meter National Museum of Qatar, designed by Jean Nouvel, opened its doors after being delayed more than two years.

Top image: A design by Krikor Jabotian