Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar’s (VCUarts Qatar) Department of Fashion Design is at the helm of building awareness about sustainable fashion in the country. The Department’s Eco Luxury Lab (Eco Lux Lab) recently created and organised two creative workshops on sustainable fashion for Shop Qatar, at Doha Design District (DDD) in Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD).
The first workshop focused on sustainable practices in denim production, and the second, on perfume making. The denim workshop was led by renowned designer Bill Curtin who runs BPD (Blueprint Denim Warehouse) from New York.
Curtin and his team flew in from the US to conduct the in-person sessions. It was the first time that the designer – who collaborates with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Converse, Tommy Hilfiger, POLO, Urban Outfitters, Gap, Marc Jacobs, LOFT/Anntaylor, NIKE, Converse, Coach, Telfar and Alexander Wang – has held a workshop in the Middle East.
“I’ve held workshops in the Far East and in the West, before, but it’s the first time that I’m holding one in the Middle East,” Curtin said. “The fact that it’s being held in Qatar indicates the level of foresight and awareness that people in the country have about sustainable practices in fashion. Denim is something that everyone identifies with, but not many are aware of the processes that go into manufacturing it, nor of the adaptations that can make these processes sustainable.”
The limited number of seats for the interactive denim workshops were sold out almost as soon as they were publicised. Participants listened to Curtin explain the new codes of sustainability and his experience designing for celebrities and high-end brands. He also shared his creative process, and various methods of denim washes including wet and dry techniques.
Christopher Fink, chair, Fashion Design, VCUarts Qatar, said: “Eco Lux Lab is a VCUarts Qatar initiative created by the Fashion Design department specifically to explore new areas of sustainability and luxury with the wider community in Qatar. The Lab’s eventual intention is to incorporate these new disciplines into our curriculum. From that perspective, the highly popular workshops were truly a success.”
For Noor Mohammed and Noor Ahmed, two graduates in Business Management, it was a series of firsts – their first workshop on fashion, on denim and on sustainability.
“When we read about the workshops on Qatar Calendar, we immediately knew we had to attend,” said Mohammed. “As graduates in business management, we are familiar with the growing relevance of sustainability in all spheres of life. So, it was exciting to see this taking place in an area that we could relate to – denim. And, it’s wonderful to see that Qatar is offering such workshops to the public.”
The Perfume Creation Workshop was led by Francis Hembert, president of Cinquiéme Sens Inc, leaders in perfumery and perfume training from Grasse, France. In the sessions, participants familiarised themselves with the basics of perfume creation, and how to use their olfactory senses to create unique fragrances.
Each participant received a perfume kit ‘The Olfactorium’ which is a miniature version of a perfumer’s organ. In the world of perfumery, a perfumer’s organ refers to either or both the physical workspace, and the ‘kit’ that contains vials of different base notes, which the perfumer combines to create fragrances.
In addition to creating fragrances, the workshop also helped participants understand the techniques used by professionals in the field to sell their fragrances, including an understanding of the different styles and preferences of customers.
Shop Qatar is a much-awaited annual retail and hospitality festival that takes place in Qatar; DDD is a hub where local, regional and international talents can come together for creative collaborations.