The first edition of the French fashion fair Who’s Next in Dubai, Oct. 11-13, showed great promise. Its 205 brands from 16 countries attracted 1,200 buyers, primarily from the region, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, and from the United States, Brazil and Australia.

Brands from the mid-luxury segment were presented on 9,000 sq. meters in an open space flooded with light, which also served as the setting for a conference by the French trend office Nelly Rodi and an exhibit of the abaya, the traditional dress in the Middle East, reinterpreted for a design contest.

Overall, buyers were in search of ultra feminine and colorful fashion and high heels. Exhibitors were notably efficient and quick to write. Isabelle Prat from La Môme Bijou said: “The crisis was less dominant and buyers made their decisions very quickly.” The most important shops, including Villa Moda, Al Tayer, Chalhoub, Bibialhaja and Splash were also in attendance, but only three designers from the region took part as exhibitors.

After this promising start, Who’s Next has decided to repeat the fair in October 2010, the closing period for buyers for the summer season. The plan is to double the fair in two years and to show each season.

—Barbara Markert