TIME: March 23, Thursday, 17:30
LOCATION: Hall 3
Etienne Cochet - GM, WSN Development: Who's Next, Premiere Classe & Paris Sur Mode Tuileries
Rania Masri - GM, Level Shoes, Chaloub Group
Bong Guerrero - CEO, Co-Founder FFWD
Firras Alwahabi - CEO, Faux Consultancy
Moderated by Ritu Upadhyay
Some of the biggest names in Fashion have jumped on board the "See Now, Buy Now" movement. Consumers who want instant gratification love it, but can this model work for our region? We have industry experts weighing in from both the retailer perspective as well as a creative one.
WSN Development: Who's Next, Premiere Classe & Paris Sur Mode Tuileries
Although he was destined for a carrer in politics, it is in the luxury goods and design industry where Etienne has dedicated the full force of his abilities. After having held commercial positions for Condé Naste publications, he joined the trade show organisers Blenheim Group in 1991 as a general commissioner for the trade shows Moving, Scènes d’Intérieur and Tex’Styles. It is during his time at Blenheim that Etienne began to rework the conventional function of trade shows. Appointed General Manager of SAFI (Salons Français et Internationaux) in May 1995, he merged all home wear trade shows, which has resulted in, notably, Maison & Objet becoming an unmissable event in the world of lifestyle and homeward trade shows. Etienne is also the brains behind the brand «Paris Capitale de la Creation», which since 2003 has brought together 17 trade shows, and of which he became the president in 2008.
Since June 2016, he has been at the head of WSN Developpement, the international leader of fashion and accessory trade shows, organising events such as WHO’S NEXT, PREMIERE CLASSE and PARIS SUR MODE TUILERIES, which take place four times a year, two of which fall during Paris Fashion Week. In 2005 he was made a Knight of the National Legion of Honor and in 2011, Officer of the National Order of Merit.
CEO, Co-Founder, FFWD
Bong Guerrero has been at the forefront of the fashion and events landscape in Dubai and the Middle East for more than 23 years.
He was heavily involved in the pioneering years of the fashion industry in the region, producing the first catwalk presentations of many of the established regional designers we know today. Alongside this, for the past fifteen years he has produced some of Dubai’s most iconic events for a range of top-tier corporate clients, and in 2009 established the live marketing agency brag. He has conceptualised and delivered some of the largest and most anticipated fashion productions in the Middle East.
Bong’s wealth of regional experience and love of both fashion and events culminated in April 2013 with the founding of Fashion Forward (FFWD). With solid support from his partners and formidable team, Bong launched FFWD as the region’s definitive fashion platform. The bi-annual event offers established and emerging designers from or based in the Middle East a unifying platform upon which to showcase their collections twice a year, complemented by a developmental programme of panels, presentations, and networking events.
CEO, Faux Consultancy
Firras Alwahabi, founder of Faux Consultancy, originally Iraqi was raised between Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
The business savvy studied design and worked in luxury retail before founding the company in 2011 upon realizing the absence of support for Arab design talents. Alwahabi now champions the public relations, sales and distribution, and incubation of Middle Eastern designers – launching many that have gone on to claim international recognition and presence in global retailers such as Madiyah Al Sharqi, Mochi and L’Afshar.
While being a catalyst for introducing homegrown brands and concepts, Alwahabi’s ever-evolving consultancy also works regularly with international fashion power houses and retail groups.
Outside of these pursuits, Alwahabi has also lended his unique voice as a regular columnist for the Middle Eastern counterparts of Style.com and Harper’s Bazaar.
GM, Level Shoes, Chaloub Group
Born in Lebanon and raised between Saudi Arabia & Canada, Rania Masri began her career in Montréal after completing her luxury fashion Marketing studies.
In 2002, Rania moved to Dubai to work with Azadea group, managing regional development for one of the Inditex Brands across the Middle East. Rania went on to join Chalhoub Group in 2006 to head the Ralph Lauren Middle East operation. During her time at Ralph Lauren she was instrumental in elevating the strategy of the brand within the region as well as leading its ambitious expansion across 10 countries.
In 2012 Rania’s new mission with the group was to lead the company’s first ever owned fashion concept, Level Shoes, a now globally recognized retail concept dedicated to the world of footwear. The 96,000 square-foot store offers a curated space divided into 40 designer boutiques and five multibrand areas, with over 250 international and regional designer brands.
Ritu Upadhyay is the Middle East correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). Often referred to as “the fashion bible,” WWD has been THE industry voice of authority for the global fashion, retail and beauty communities for over 100 years. Ritu covers the business side of retail and fashion along with trends and runway shows, bringing together a unique understanding of both the creative and commercial sides of the fashion industry. For the last ten years, she has covered international runways shows in emerging markets, reporting on new design talent, as well as breaking news on retail markets across the Middle East. She has profiled fashion luminaries including Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, Elie Saab and as well as traveled to factories across India to report on manufacturing and skilled artisans. Ritu studied journalism and political science at Northwestern University. She began her career at the newsweekly, TIME Magazine in New York and has authored a biography on President John F. Kennedy. In addition to WWD, she has covered the Middle East for Bloomberg TV. Born and raised in Chicago, Ritu has lived in New York, India, Jordan and Pakistan, and currently divides her time between Washington D.C. and Dubai.