Jun. 6, 2018


HH Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud

Saudi Arabia

HH Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud

Founder, Saudi Fashion Community

“The first fashion week that took place in April was only the starting point, and we are poised to organize more events on different scales.”

BIO

HH Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud organized the first Arab Fashion Week in April 2018. She graduated from Tokyo’s Rikkyo University with a master’s degree in international business with a Japanese perspective. Aside from her native Arabic, she is fluent in English, French, and Japanese. She is committed to building a fashion industry in Saudi Arabia, capitalizing on both the male and female design talent in the country.

How has your journey in fashion been so far?

My vision for Saudi Arabia was to create a platform for Saudi designers to give them the exposure they deserve. When the Arab Fashion Council approached me and wanted to collaborate, I saw this as an opportunity to fulfill this objective and to empower the talent that our country has to offer. The fashion week we organized in April was the first of its kind and the kickoff of a journey much larger. That said, we have decided now to take a new path by rebranding the event as the Saudi Fashion Week, while I am working on a more comprehensive approach toward our domestic fashion industry via the establishment of the Saudi Fashion Community as a new concept. Here, the goal is to encourage Saudi designers to get out there and bring their work up to international standards. As a Saudi woman myself, I understand them more than anyone, and with my background and international experience, I have the connections—in Japan, France, and the US—to provide them with the right support and to truly build a fashion community in Saudi Arabia.

How did the first fashion week ever in Saudi Arabia come around?

There were many challenges to organize this event, and we faced many obstacles and resistance in what we wanted to establish. We always believed it was possible, and with the generous support of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), we made our ambitions reality. Organizing a first-time event with international standards was not easy; however, with our determination we made it work. The result was a successful event with a broad range of renowned designers and great international media coverage. The first fashion week that took place in April was only the starting point, and we are poised to organize more events on different scales. Aside from events, we will focus on many different approaches to develop our Saudi fashion community, including educational and cultural projects to support and encourage local designers. In addition to design, we want to introduce manufacturing to the market. We should be able to have the manufacturing localized and up to international standards.

How do you envision approaching this from an educational perspective?

There are already institutes for fashion design; the task for us is to take them to the next level. By creating the Saudi Fashion Community, we want to further professionalize the way of teaching, align it with international practice, and encourage local talent. We want our designers to be fully recognized internationally. The talent is there, though it is not always guided in the right direction. To compete in the international arena, we should nurture our students and show the pathway to make this a professional career for them. This is our main focus right now.

With the opening up of the entertainment sector and the activities coordinated by GEA, how do you envision alignment for your events?

The GEA is a crucial authority for all of these events to happen. Organizing such events is unchartered territory in the Kingdom, so with its support and development of regulation, it becomes much smoother. As it represents the government, it makes the event more accepted by society. GEA has an experienced and dedicated team and understands how to allocate its budget to support fashion, F&B, music, theater, and many other events. With the current transformation of Saudi Arabia, it plays a key role, and we are grateful for its support in organizing the first fashion week in Saudi Arabia.

How do you see fashion in the context of sports?

The sports industry is booming in the country, and the General Sports Authority (GSA) is doing an excellent job in encouraging top sports and promoting mass participation. There are many new sport events happening, and I look forward to exploring more collaboration with its organizers. Fashion design is often related to sport, with many top brands having sports lines. Also, there are special Arabic interpretations, like the collaboration by GSA with Nike to develop the first sport hijab. This is just one example, and I envision significantly more overlap and collaboration between Saudi designers and different disciplines of sports. Once the Saudi Fashion Community is more established, we strive to develop a partnership program with GSA to promote sport and fashion design.

How do you envision bringing Saudi fashion designers into the international market?

As part of our mandate at the Saudi Fashion Community, we want to make Saudi designers more aware of international opportunities and encourage them to develop themselves up to these international standards. That is the first priority: fully unlocking their talents. Second, we will arrange for them to participate in local and international events to showcase their designs. The platform we want to create is not just focused on promoting local design, but also becoming a contact point for international designers that want to come into the market and establish themselves here with design boutiques and tailor shops. In this way, we will create a two-way street with mutual benefits for all the parties involved. It would be fantastic if we could get our Saudi designers recognized internationally for their talents in this way.

As a young female leader of the new generation Saudis, what is your message to aspiring graduates that want to fulfill their ambitions?

My message to every Saudi woman is to never give up on anything. If you have found your passion and outlined your ambition, do it and believe that you can do it. No one and nothing should be able to stop one from fulfilling their dreams. A year ago, no one would have believed it if we had told them about our plans to organize a multi-day fashion show in Riyadh, and yet we did. Never give up on your ambitions.

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