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