At the end of February the Arab Fashion Council announced it would host its first ever Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh at the end of March.
Participating designers began preparing their collections for the runway, showrooms and events. So too international journalists and buyers organised flights and booked accommodation. Then came the sudden announcement fashion week will be postponed until 10-14 April.
"The first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh will be more than a world-class event, it is a catalyst through which we believe the fashion sector will lead other economic sectors such as tourism, hospitality, travel, and trade," its honorary president Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud stated at the time.
On the website RiyadhArabFashionWeek.com bold letters claim Arab Fashion Week "is recognised as one of the world's 5 most important fashion weeks alongside New York, London, Milan and Paris." Perhaps the fashion council forgot the industry leading events in notable cities like Berlin, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai, who all have a long and lauded history of fashion weeks and trade fairs.
An explanation for the delay was sent by email to the New York Times: “Since the initial announcement made in February, Arab Fashion Week Riyadh has garnered significant interest from international guests wanting to attend,” said Layla Issa Abuzaid, the country director for Saudi Arabia at the Arab Fashion Council, the Dubai nonprofit responsible for the event. “Given this important historical moment for the kingdom, the Arab Fashion Council and participating designers have collectively taken steps to postpone the dates in order to welcome guests from all over the world. This could only be done by taking additional time.”
As a self-proclaimed top 5 global fashion week force, the schedule appears relatively quiet with just 14 designers showing collections in addition to guest shows from Roberto Cavalli and Jean Paul Gaultier. On its Facebook page the original fashion week dates have not yet been updated, despite it being a ticketed event open to the public.
Men take note: on its website the fashion council warns its events are for women only.