From Oct. 1 to Oct. 4, designers from all over the world showcased their Spring-Summer 2015 collections at the Dubai International Financial Centre during the first Fashion Week Middle East (FWME). The first installment of what aims to be a biannual event, it aims to boost the fashion industry of the city to the level of world fashion capitals like New York, Paris and Milan.
The event was organized by English-Strickland & Associates. Around forty students from NYU Abu Dhabi volunteered at the event taking jobs such as VIP hosts, logistics assistants, backstage runners and cashiers.
Some students expressed that the event was poorly organised and chaotic but that nonetheless it presented an interesting opportunity for them to witness how the organization of an international event of certain significance in the region is tailored from scratch.
“The level of disorganization was unexpected. I didn't expect the organizers to change my volunteer position, for which I was ready, [in] the last moment, being only given a brief 10 minute instruction and put in charge of a reception desk to sell tickets; it was pretty much a shock to me,” said sophomore Victoria Blinova.
Some volunteers expressed the view that the organization was poorly executed. Sophomore Serhii Rokachov said:
“We had a very limited amount of water and food available over the course of the two days when I was working. Furthermore, the whole organization was poor and from the very start it was unclear what exactly some volunteers would be asked to do.”
Another problem faced by the organization team was the cancellation of the attendance of numerous designers — from originally 50 scheduled to only 18 — for reasons that the organizers did not disclose, to the disappointment of many spectators. In an email to volunteers, the organizers cited a decree by the Emirate of Dubai asking all establishments to refrain from holding entertainment activities on Oct. 2 due to Eid al-Adha observations.
From late shows to low attendance and volunteers not respecting their schedules, the FWME was an event full of surprises which presented issues for everyone participating in it.
However, some appreciated the learning opportunities as part of the volunteering experience, “I learned to improvise, react quickly and be patient, very patient in a stressful and changing environment,” said Blinova.
Students were also exposed to new experiences in the fashion industry such as the chance to interact with famous artists, models and designers from the region and abroad in a professional environment.
“I liked the fact that I was able to watch a few fashion shows for the first time in my life,” Blinova explained.
The Fashion Week also had an after party, open to those over the age of 21, as well as backstage access for some, depending on the position.
Mario Zapata is deputy features editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.