Mel's Place

Published: Wednesday October 15, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday October 15, 2014 MYT 12:33:12 PM

Fashion and food in the heart of the desert

Fancy meeting you here: With Eleen Yong at the event's after party.

Fancy meeting you here: With Eleen Yong at the event's after party.

A fashion event in Dubai which led to rekindling a fondness for the city.

I’ve just a spent a week in Dubai, and have fallen in love with the desert city all over again. Despite the heat and stuffiness, every time I visit this thriving metropolis I feel some kind of connection with it. Perhaps it’s the people, or perhaps it’s the fashion scene – but I just feel I’m meant to be there to promote my business.

I spent four days at the Fashion Forward event, which forms part of the Dubai Fashion Week, and just one word is enough to describe the whole event: fabulous.

Everything was so professionally organised, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite like this. Oh, and did I mention that the audience was super fashionable and creative? Honestly, I could have been at any one of the more renowned international fashion weeks.

Although all the shows were impressive, my favourite had to be Furne Amato’s couture. Furne Amato (also known as Furne One) is one of a number of Dubai-based Filipino designers. His collection was just amazing – the clothes had a touch of the alien yet were not too outlandish to be worn. Each outfit was so meticulously detailed, it was a work of art.

Another highlight of Fashion Forward was bumping into our very own Malaysian supermodel – Eleen Yong – at all the couture finales. Eleen was also in Milan when I was there for the trade fair. Apparently she had been cast by an Istanbul modelling agency for the Dubai event, and will also be in Osaka for the Sakura showcase which I will also be attending end October. I feel so proud of her success and very happy that she’s going places. Eleen is truly someone we can all be proud of – despite her successes, she is so humble and easy to work with.

Other than the fashion shows, I enjoyed shopping at The Garden, which was set up as part of the event offering quirky and fun accessories from the region as well as international brands. There was a lot of precious jewellery - diamonds and other gems set in gold and gold-plated silver – in modern designs. Of course, they were pricey but justifiably so, given the quality of the stones. The designers were also there, and I must say I learnt quite a lot talking to them.

It was the Eid holiday while we were there, so we had a few days off and Dirk and I decided to go on a desert dinner tour. The last time I had been into a desert was in Egypt, ages ago. The local tour we joined was very affordable – about RM140 for transport, dinner and a belly dancing performance, all lasting about three hours. What’s more, they offered all sorts of activities like camel riding, desert biking, henna hand painting and shisha smoking – on the house – but I didn’t go for these as I was quite content to lounge on the floor like a native, and enjoy the beautiful sunset.

Of course, I had to visit the shopping malls and especially the famous Dubai Mall, one of the most prestigious malls here. But, honestly, there were just too many people from all corners of the world here. It looked like there were over 10,000 people queuing every hour to watch the music fountain show which lasts less than 15 minutes. It was kind of crazy, but at least now I’ve seen it and can understand why it attracts the crowds. In terms of outlets, the mall had every brand conceivable and all kinds of food chains, which was pretty impressive.

I also visited the Madinat Jumeirah mall a number of times, especially after the shows because it was right next to the Madinat Convention Hall where Fashion Forward was held. So we had our late after-show suppers here. The Noodle House is a must-try restaurant. They serve noodles mixed Chinese-Malaysian-Thai style but call it Singapore style! It’s pretty good, especially if you are craving for Asian food.

We also had a number of Middle Eastern and Lebanese meals which I love, hummus being one of my favourite culinary delights. If you like biryani, go to the old souk area, which is full of very affordable Indian restaurants, much cheaper than restaurants in the malls.

I must say Dubai was a fabulicious fashion, makan and sight-seeing trip for me. I met many great fashion and business personalities and certainly hope to return to this region soon.

Shokran Dubai – I will be back!

> Award-winning fashion designer Melinda Looi tries to marry consumerism and materialism with environmental consciousness. She believes her greatest creations are her children. Send your feedback to

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