“Saudi 100” is the brainchild of Burak Cakmak, former dean of fashion at Parsons.
“Saudi 100” is a touring exhibition currently in New York featuring clothing and accessories from 100 Saudi designers, curated by Burak Cakmak, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission and former dean of fashion at Parsons School of Design. On view through August 7 at the Flatiron event space Iron23, it is free and open to the public with pre-registration.
The traveling fashion showcase, debuted in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, late last year. It is split into eight different categories—ready-to-wear, modest, concept, premiere, demi-couture, bridal, handbags, and jewelry—and represents the creative breadth and wonderful craftsmanship that the Kingdom’s designers, eighty percent of whom are women, offer. Many have never previously shown their work internationally. “First and foremost, it is about opening that cultural bridge that can lead to more steps to come in the future,” says Cakmak.
The designers featured represent all levels of business development, from emerging brands launched by recent design school grads to establishment labels from two women in their seventies. Cakmak sites a Foz Couture gold-thread jumpsuit with matching cape and a Layla Moussa thoub hand-embroidered with chrysanthemum flowers as two highlights.
For Cakmak, the choice of New York for the exhibition’s first international stop was both personally and socio-culturally motivated. “I lived here for five years during my time at Parsons and I’ve always believed in the diversity of what New York has to offer in terms of culture,” he says. “And if you look at the history of fashion, clearly Paris has couture, but it it was New York that really made it a big business.”
The exhibition is part of a larger year-long program that aims to nurture Saudi talent, providing mentoring from global industry leaders as well as workshops on topics from design and innovation to building a sustainable business.