Catch up with Ann Hertha Johannesen and Fredrik Bodin, The organisers of Style Gallery Dubai
Interview with Ann Hertha Johannesen (AHJ), CEO – Fashion Exclusive UAE
Q: Yourself and Fredrik are the master forces behind the Style Gallery Dubai event – Can you introduce the event to those who did not get a chance to attend it?
AHJ: The Style Gallery is a PR platform for Scandinavian Fashion & Accessory brands, both existing and/or new in the market. The Style Gallery is an easy way for regional press and buyers to get a quick overview of what Scandinavia has to offer. My goal is to build a bridge between the cool designers in Scandinavia and the craving fashionistas in the Middle East.
I believe that over the past 5 years, people in Dubai have become much more conscious and interested in standing out and differencing themselves. At The Style Gallery we are introducing them to some of the coolest brands we have in Scandinavia, using it also as a platform where regional designers can meet Scandinavian and Danish designers, network and possibly collaborate in the future.
Q: You have a worldwide fashion experience; have been representing several brands with a very particular emphasis on Scandinavian labels which took you to set up Fashion Exclusive UAE, a successful fashion PR agency promoting Scandinavian designers. Besides the fact that it was only natural to represent designers from your hometown, why did you choose that path?
AHJ: I know Scandinavian brands quite well, having spent so many years in the business. I know the history and what’s at the core of each and every brand. Meanwhile, I have become so much more familiar with the dynamic of the GCC market, so it was only natural for me to combine these two areas of expertise.
Q: Do you think Dubai could potentially be a successful platform for Scandinavian designers?
AHJ: I definitely think that there is a huge potential for Scandinavian designers in Dubai.
Q: How much exposure Scandinavian brands currently have in Dubai? Where can we find such brands?
AHJ: I represent many brands which are currently carried by retailers all across Dubai. For instance: Altewaisaome currently sells in D.tales on Jumeirah Beach Road. Maria Black in Saks and Etoile. Oh! By Kopenhagen Fur is available in Etoile and the The Cartel. Most brands will be carried by many more retailers all across the UAE in the next few months.
Q: How do you feel the local clientele and fashionistas are responding to the Scandinavian designs which promote minimalism and clean designs as opposite to the Dubai ‘bling bling’ style? Do you think the clash of culture is too important and would prevent Scandinavian brands from succeeding and growing in popularity in the Middle East?
AHJ: Part of the purpose of The Style Gallery was to show off the variety of Scandinavian and Designs. Scandinavia does not only represent minimalistic designs. We have several designers like Stine Goya, Hanne Bloch & Baum und Pferdgarten, who are amazing with prints or Orit Elhanati which designed amazing piece of jewelleries, perfect for the local clientele.
The response from the visitors at The Style Gallery as well as the people I got to team up with, over the past few years, have been overwhelming . As previously mentioned the good thing about Dubai is that, there is enough room for everybody and that includes the wide variety of Scandinavians Brands I represent. People are intrigued and do welcome creativity, new designs, inspiration and cool brands.
Q: What do you think of the fashion scene in the UAE? And Dubai in particular?
AHJ: I love the diversity of Dubai’s fashion scene. There is room for everybody.
Q: Any upcoming projects in the pipeline?
AHJ: Right now my focus is to get the brands I represent established in the right stores. As for The Style Gallery, it was definitely not a one-time event.
Q: Any other activities besides promoting Scandinavians brands?
AHJ: We are planning to organise some photo shoots for Scandinavian brands and fashion magazines in the UAE. It can be hard to shoot Spring/Summer collections back home in January.
Q: Would you promote brands other than Scandinavians?
AHJ: Eventually but for now, I think it is important to “kill your darlings” and stay focused.
Q: What’s your favourite colour?
AHJ: All shades of blue.
Q: What do you enjoy the most?
AHJ: My friends, new experiences & seeing my ideas through.
Q: Who’s in your opinion the most glamorous woman?
AHJ: I’m a big fan of Cate Blanchett but Blake Lively also looks amazing every time she steps into the fashion spotlight.
Q: What’s your favourite cuisine?
AHJ: I love anything that is prepared with passion but if I had to choose one cuisine, I’d definitely pick the Japanese cuisine.
Q: The thing you wished you knew when you were 20?
AHJ: That times flies
Interview with Fredrik Bodin (FB), Project Manager – Business Sweden
Q: What made you decided to promote Scandinavian designers in the UAE?
FB: We have noticed that there was an interest from both Swedish and Danish designers as well as from regional stakeholders so we wanted to build a bridge between the two and create a platform for our designers to reach the most relevant regional stakeholders. Essentially, we realised that there was an existing demand that needed to be met.
Q: Fredrik as co-organiser of the event, How much involvement did you actually have on the organisation of the Style Gallery Dubai event?
FB: As a co-organiser of the event with Fashion Exclusive UAE, we divided the tasks where each of us had a certain set of responsibilities. Fashion Exclusive UAE has excellent contacts in the Danish fashion industry and managed to get a good number of Danish exhibitors on board whereas we were in contact with the Swedish designers and partners.
Q: How did you manage to get so many great sponsors on board for such a boutique event? Was it an effort shared by Fashion Exclusive as well as your organisation?
FB: I think it is important to mention that our excellent supporting partners cater to the same customer demographic as The Style Gallery. For us it was about demonstrating to our partners that The Style Gallery would be a great PR & marketing platform where they will be able to promote their products and services. It was a rather effective and positive cross promotion for all parties involved.
Q: Any new project in the pipeline to promote Scandinavian designers?
FB: We will definitely build up upon the success of the first edition of The Style Gallery and shall make sure we do not lost momentum by following this up actively. When we first discussed The Style Gallery, it was always our intention to make it an annual fashion event in Dubai. We are also envisaging the possibility of bringing it to other regional markets.
Q: What’s your favourite Scandinavian designers?
FB: I was very happy that P.A.P. (www.papsweden.se) choose to exhibit as I am a huge fan of their leather accessories. Otherwise I am really fond of brands such as Acne (www.acne.se) that make excellent jean-swear and J. Lindeberg (www.jlindeberg.com) for their fantastic suits.
Q: What would you said Scandinavia does the best?
FB: In terms of fashion and design, I think that Scandinavian brands are very well-known for their functionality, stylish look and high-quality materials . The design is not always flamboyant, but instead the Scandinavian designers do pay a particular attention to details and handicraft.
Semia Azaiz, Editor in Chief, Luxsure Dubai, Luxsure Group
For more information about The Style Gallery Dubai, please visit www.thestylegallerydubai.com