“I have always dreamed of glamour,” says Al Awfi backstage after the show, her porcelain skin shimmering against her black abaya and painted red lips. “Atelier Zuhra is named after my mother; a woman with passion, who has forever been my role model. I introduced myself to couture as a child – I admired the beauty of ballerinas and always wished to have my own couture house.” She opened Dar al Aufi boutique in Dubai, offering in-house eveningwear and bridal designs, and started to build a regional clientele who gravitated towards her enthusiasm for maximalist glamour. In a short time, spectacular gowns became the lexicon for Atelier Zuhra. At the Fashion Forward showcase, the maison featured 35 dresses, each seemingly more grandiose than the last; with Syrian designer Nabil El-Nayal, who showcased his brand just afterwards, divulging that “each dress took up a rack” backstage.