Michelle Johnson, Managing Director of Iszonica Modeling School

This year, the Annual Recycle Fashion & Creative Art Event by Iszonica Modeling School, was held on 21st of November at Al Dana Ballroom, Holiday Inn, Salmiya.

The event is rapidly becoming a much-awaited annual fixture and platform for local and regional talents seeking to make a mark in the world of fashion and design, and modeling, while lending support to charitable causes.

HAMAC by Ramez Basmji

This year’s show was themed ‘I Am a Man, The Sound of Silence’, which recognized the role of men in society, who labor hard to fulfill the daily demands of their families. A portion of the evening’s proceeds from sale of products and tickets were donated to the male street workers around Kuwait.

The dynamic Michelle Johnson, Managing Director of Iszonica Modeling School, was quoted saying, “We should not look down on people no matter what job they do,” which goes a long way in a multiracial country like Kuwait.

The first part of the event was aimed at unearthing creative talent, by challenging designers and artists to think outside the box and create functional art and fashion from recycle materials.

As attendees marveled at the ingenuity of the designs crafted from repurposed materials, the conversation naturally turned towards the necessity of responsible waste management. In this vein, AB Recycling stood out as a beacon of commitment to preserving the planet, offering comprehensive solutions for paper and cardboard recycling needs. Their dedication to environmental stewardship aligns seamlessly with the ethos of the event, emphasizing the power of collaboration between creative expression and eco-conscious initiatives.

Designers from British Academy of International Arts (BAIA) created products ‘borrowed’ from men’s worn-out clothing. Items worn regularly such as neckties, fabric from trousers, and the iconic ghutra and ogal, were used to create catchy bags and headwear to match! The evening’s prize-winning handbag by Melanie Clinton was made of neckties.

D.F.A Design by Dalal Abdulhadi

Dare to be Different brought on some fabulous use of what one might consider non-wearable material. Samra Shahzad, Isabel Lacoviciuc and Michelle Johnson designed funky looking dresses inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany's using candleholders, plastic bags, and the indispensable tissues.

The second part of the evening endeavored to promote emerging designers from Kuwait and abroad. Some noteworthy names among them were designers Mona Al Nasser, Ishwaita Merwah and Sara Karami.

Kuwaiti designer Mona Al Nasser’s creation was a case of lavish indulgence! Her choice of luscious fabrics, strong colors, layers of chiffon and satin, pearls and the extravagant use of Swarovski crystals bedazzled the audience in attendance. The evening’s most outstanding piece was a white bridal gown studded with a small fortune of Swarovski crystals and complete with a long trailing head trail, modeled by Hungarian model Lilla Ivady who looked nothing less than celestial as she posed for the mob of photographers.

Ishwaita Merwah, of Indian origin, brought oriental charm with her label ISHK. Specializing in men, women and children's designer wear, Ishwaita designs and produces exclusive styles in Kuwait and India. I found her princely Sherwanis and Kurtas, with intricate thread work, very dashing and yet, wearable by a common person.

Iranian designer Sara Karami, of JUST JAZZ, has a predilection to mix-and-match an array of colors with quirky patterns. The shy designer debuted with her collection at Iszonica’s Trash to Treasure show last year and became an instant hit with locals.

Dishdasha by Obaid Al Dossri TRZE THOB

It was heartening to see at least one designer specializing in menswear being featured on the runway. Kuwaiti designer Obaid Al Dossri, of TRZE Thob Designs, demonstrated through his simplistic style and sparing use of color how the traditional dishdasha could be ‘lightened up’ and still maintain its manly charm.

Designs created by Dalal Al Abdulhadi D.F.A. Designs, Better Fashions by Reshma, and stunning women’s accessories by Lebanese designer Ramez Basmji (HAMAC) were also showcased during the evening.

Keeping in line with the communal theme of the evening, the vibrant House of Butterflies presented a range of handbags, which are made of colorful organic and 80% recyclable material. HoB products are marketed in Kuwait and the Middle East by Kuwaiti socio-entrepreneur Hanouf Al Juhail.

Designs by Ishwaita Merwah

Iszonica trained models Krystle Nazareth and Idrees Khan were composed as they shared the spotlight for their advancement in the modeling industry. Krystle, who was discovered by Iszonica just a year ago, has modeled for 52 Degrees and appeared on the cover of Planet Goa. Male model Idrees Khan, who enjoys ramp modeling, has been the face for VIVA Telecom.

The spectacular evening was co-sponsored by VCU Qatar, Round Table Kuwait and iPower Photography. Guest Speaker and patron, Sandra Bell Wilkins, who is the Chair of the Fashion Department at VCU and recently named ‘Best Fashion Professor from North Africa, Middle East and Asia,’ flew in from Qatar to grace the occasion with her support.

Many of the male models showed very little evidence of having walked the ramp for the first time – because ‘it was for a good cause’!

With far and few fashion shows seen in Kuwait, this is one event to look out for – for both designers and fashion enthusiasts alike.

For more information about Iszonica contact Michelle Johnson, Managing Director (+965) 65182066 or email Iszonica@hotmail.com. TRZE Thob boutique is located in Ghawali Center, Sharq, Tel: (+965) 22320800 and Safir Hotel, Fintas, Tel: (+965) 25455666 and soon in Avenues Phase III. ISHK Haute Couture is located in Salmiya, Block 10, Saba Street, Building 28, 1st Floor, Shop #3. Tel: (+965) 99596959. JUST JAZZ, Just Sara collection is available at Villa Karizma, opp. Al Amiri Hospital. Contact sarakarami@gmail.com. For HOB products visit www.hobq8.com

– Shabana H. Shaikh

Photo Credits: Leslie Davis, Eric Fabro, Donnald Reniva, Alvin Hostalero, Ever Villacruz & Antonio Alcantara; Models: Iszonica Modeling School; Makeup: BLUSH; Hair: Laticia Brown

Men At Work
Dress by Mona Al Nasser
Designs by Ishwaita Merwah
Breakfast at Tiffany's Plastic Dress
Dishdasha by Obaid Al Dossri TRZE THOB
Dishdasha by Obaid Al Dossri TRZE THOB
Designer Dalal Abdulhadi
Designer Sara Karami with Michelle Johnson
BAIA Winning Designer of Handbag
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