A non-profit fashion fund dubbed Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) was launched last year to support Middle-Eastern and North-African designers. In addition to fostering new talents, the organization also supports established designers.
In its highest-profile initiative to date, the FTA started an annual competition to award rising stars in the field of fashion a chance to invest in their dreams.
The celebrity-studded judging panel included 25 industry veterans, like Net-a-Porter founder Dame Natalie Massenet, Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, Moncler chief executive Remo Ruffini, and none other than Victoria Beckham!
In total, there were 5 prizes to be awarded, one for each of the following categories: ready-to-wear, evening-wear, shoes and bags, and jewelry.
Over a hundred participants were shortlisted to 25 finalists, and on Thursday, the winners of the fund's inaugural prize were announced. The close competition between the stunning designs saw 2 prizes tied for one category, bringing the grand total to 6 winners. Lo and behold, over two-thirds of them were Lebanese!
#1 Salim Azzam
Lebanese womenswear designer Salim Azzam took home the prize for the ready-to-wear category of the competition.
#2 Roni Helou
In the same category, Roni Helou's eclectic designs won him a spot among the six.
No stranger to the industry, Roni had displayed some of his work at the London Fashion Week in February of this year.
#3 Krikor Jabotian
The evening-wear award went to Krikor Jabotian for his refined craftsmanship and innovative use of opulent fabrics.
Krikor began his career at Elie Saab’s creative department. He has dressed the likes of Kelly Rowland, Hailee Steinfeld, Jessie J, and Queen Rania of Jordan.
Krikor's fashion line was also the only one selected to be stocked at Harrods.
#4 Mukhi Sisters
Maya, Meena, and Zeenat of the Fine Jewellery Stores of the Mukhi family took home the prize for best jewelry brand and design.
Aside from our 4 Lebanese winners, it is right to mention the two other winners of this elite fashion contest: The Egyptian duo behind the bag brand Sabry Marouf, and the Moroccan footwear label Zyne earned their winning spots in their respective categories.
The prizes of the competition included mentorship from an executive committee of 13 Middle Eastern fashion and business leaders, such as Lebanon's very-own fashion mogul Reem Acra, as well as a prize of up to $200,000 tailored to each winner’s business plan. The winners will also be mentored by, and stocked at, MatchesFashion.
Check out the Lebanese winners' inspiration and backstories in the videos below.