Men We Love- Switched to Fashion Mode

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Creating a solid, credible and sustainable platform for talented designers, Bong Guerrero, founder and CEO of Fashion Forward and managing partner of Brag, gives Yasmeen Maqbool an insight into his fashion palette

Branded parties have been your innovation to Dubai. Tell us more?
When I arrived in Dubai in 1990, the social scene and nightlife was just kicking off and I saw huge potential in harnessing this new generation of people who wanted something innovative. We were working with such fantastic brands at the time that it seemed perfect to give our parties a real identity. The brand names were a great pull for the guests and in turn the brands got exposure to a large section of their target audience through the parties.

How did you decide to take it further?
I wouldn’t say that in starting Fashion Forward (FFWD) I moved on from the events sphere, as Brag is very much a part of my focus. I have been involved in the fashion industry throughout my career. My first job when I moved to Dubai was in a fashion house, and so many of the events I’ve produced over the past 20 or so years have been fashion oriented. My first ever fashion show was set in the Burj Al Arab. Fashion Forward happened organically when we spotted a need in the market for all of these fantastically talented designers in our region to have a solid, credible and sustainable platform. The fashion and events worlds are intertwined – I love to produce a well put together, professional show, whether that is a car launch or a runway presentation.

Your schedule sounds hectic?
At the moment we are gearing up for FFWD Season Four which takes place from October 4th – 6th so a typical day would be a breakfast meeting with one of our designers then head to the office to meet with the FFWD team. During the final planning stages from the lighting, to the running order, catwalk/Garden designers and securing international guests, all has been fine-tuned. This includes heading down to the The Madinat Jumeirah to brief the security staff since the event sees not less than 18,000 attendees. It also includes Skype calls with designers overseas. This season we have designers from Lebanon, London, India and Oman amongst many others, so keeping in close touch in the run up to the event is vital. The team and I usually work late. We are a really closeknit team and without them FFWD would not happen, so we like to make sure we communicate any issues to each other each day to make sure everything is on track and running smoothly.

With the Dubai Design District shaping up, how do you foresee Fashion Forward gaining pace?
Through our strategic partnership with Dubai Design District (d3) we have found perfect alignment with UAE
Vice President, Prime Minister of the U.A.E. and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the government, a wider vision for Fashion 2020 – growing and establishing Dubai and the region as a fashion and design hub for the future.

We are constantly evolving, growing and learning each season and value the input of the fashion community. We are realistic in our approach, but with the progress we have made thus far with FFWD, and the support of d3, we are sure that our vision will be a reality.

You like to party at: 40 Kong.
The designer to watch out for: All of the FFWD designers.
Your favourite designer: Kenzo, YSL & Dolce & Gabbana.
Your favourite me-time: Dinner with friends.
Your favourite restaurant: Teatro.
Your most challenging moment: Launching Fashion Forward.
Your favourite vacation destination: Barcelona
Your favourite pet: My dog Tiger and cat Noki.