NEW YORK: The famous New York Fashion Week recently wrapped up after a gala display of what are expected to be the latest trends for spring and summer 2018.

Just as surely as the big industry names had their runway shows, including Coach, Marc Jacobs, and Philippine Plein, a number of smaller designers debuted new or growing brands.

On the first day of fashion show week, Maarkah’s fashion show took place in Studio 450 in New York City. Maarkah means brand in Arabic; and it is the creation of Rabab Abdallah. She told Annahar that the name was meant to shed light on Middle Eastern and African designers and introduce their colorful designs.

Abdallah said that her inspiration came from a desire to showcase the beauty and talent that exists in the Middle East and Africa. She wanted to create a platform that represents unity, talent, and diversity; and she thought what better way to do this than through fashion and the arts.

She added that there are many talented, established, and emerging designers who do not have a strong platform that recognizes their work outside their home countries. Many dream of an opportunity to represent their talent in New York, one of the fashion capitals of the world.

“I want to provide them with that opportunity to broaden their reach and market their brands to reach mass markets and audiences,” she said, adding that “fashion is a universal language; it represents the idea of coexistence. It is a language of unity, peace, diversity, love, and hope and a way to celebrate the individuality of style.”

Abdallah added that aspiring designers should stay true to themselves, and follow their passion with persistence. “Be a star in your own life by having a leading role without allowing anyone or anything to limit your dreams. Be authentic in everything you do; believe in yourself. Try to always be prepared and open to new ideas, people, and opportunities. You never know when they can change your life,” she said.

Later that night, the runway show “Art Hearts Fashion” took place at the Angel Orensaz foundation. Three designers showcased their design in an old synagogue filled with color and light. Among the designers was Elie Madi, a Lebanese designer who has dressed celebrities such as Carry Underwood, Katy Perry, and Gwen Stefani.

One of the attendees, Sara Smith, said that Madi was her favorite designer in the show. She added that the beading in his garments was meticulously done, with different patterns and colors giving liveliness to his designs.

Fashion week did not only entail runway shows, but it also combined galas and fundraisers. The largest one was the Carol Galvin Foundation’s fundraiser for women’s cancer held at the Play Station Theater.

Headlining talent included international gown designer Mimi Tran, fashion icon Richie Rich, contemporary woman’s wear designer Rutu Bhonsle, and the New York Fashions Times 2016 Designer of the year “Teen” BBTC Couture (Bound by The Crown Couture).

Celebrity guests included radio hit singer Meredith O’Connor and Nickelodeon star JoJo Siwa; with performances by Zay Hilfigerrr “Juju on that Beat” and platinum recording artist Aaron Carter.

Adding to the good causes was Fashion Vie, a show aimed at gathering money through a silent auction to help with the education of girls in Nigeria. The co-host Claudia Jordan, American actress, model, and reality TV star, said more than anything the fashion world needs to focus on young women and their education.

On the last day, Gemy Maalouf, another prominent Lebanese designer showcased her design in the Andaz hotel. There, press and buyers had the chance to check out her new collection, which entailed night gowns, evening dresses, and overalls. Her designs were sorted out by color, starting with black all the way to bright colors and patterns.

Maalouf said that “It all started with a little bit of genes and a whole lot of passion.”

With a father owning a fabric factory, it wasn’t surprising for young Gemy to inherit a liking for textiles that would soon grow into exceptional talent.