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Saudi Arabia Makes History With First-Ever Swimwear Fashion Show in Groundbreaking Move at Red Sea Fashion Week | Fashion trends

Saudi Arabia Makes History With First-Ever Swimwear Fashion Show in Groundbreaking Move at Red Sea Fashion Week |  Fashion trends

 


Saudi Arabia held its first fashion show Friday featuring models in swimsuits, a major step forward in a country where less than a decade ago women were required to wear an abaya that covered the body . The poolside runway show featuring the work of Moroccan designer Yasmina Qanzal featured mostly one-piece suits in shades of red, beige and blue. Most models had their shoulders exposed and some had their stomachs partially visible. “It's true that this country is very conservative but we tried to show elegant swimsuits that represent the Arab world,” Qanzal told AFP.

The fashion show features one-piece swimsuit designs by Moroccan designer Yasmina Qanzal.(AFP)
The fashion show features one-piece swimsuit designs by Moroccan designer Yasmina Qanzal.(AFP)

“When we came here, we understood that a swimsuit fashion show in Saudi Arabia is a historic moment, because it is the first time such an event has taken place,” she said , adding that it was “an honor” to participate. The show took place on the second day of the inaugural Red Sea Fashion Week at the St Regis Red Sea Resort, located off the west coast of Saudi Arabia. The resort is part of Red Sea Global, one of the so-called gigaprojects at the heart of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 social and economic reform program, overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Prince Mohammed, who became first in line to the throne in 2017, launched a series of dramatic social reforms in a bid to soften Saudi Arabia's austere image, stemming from its historic support for a purist form of Islam known under the name of Wahhabism. These changes included removing stick-wielding religious police who chased men out of shopping malls to pray, reintroducing movie theaters and holding mixed-gender music festivals.

They have coincided with increased repression targeting dissent, particularly from conservative clerics who might protest such measures. Shouq Mohammed, a Syrian fashion influencer who attended Friday's show, said it was not surprising given Saudi Arabia's attempt to open up to the world and develop its fashion sectors and tourism.

The fashion industry was worth $12.5 billion in 2022, or 1.4% of the national GDP, and employed 230,000 people, according to a report published last year by the official Saudi Fashion Commission. “This is the first time there's been a swimsuit show in Saudi Arabia, but why not? Seriously, why not?” said Mohammed. It's possible and we have it here. Raphael Simacourbe, a French influencer also present on Friday, said there was nothing risky in his eyes but that in the Saudi context it was a major achievement. “It’s very brave of them to do this today, so I’m very happy to be a part of it,” he said.

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