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Riyadh: Jean Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli are in Saudi Arabia — headlining the kingdom’s first ever Arab Fashion Week, an event that opened Tuesday to equal parts excitement and controversy.

Two weeks later than initially planned, the Saudi Arabian edition of Arab Fashion Week joins designers from Europe and the Arab world over the course of four days — including the kingdom’s own Arwa Banawi, whose The Suitable Woman line is adored by fashionistas across the region, and Mashael Alrajhi, the eponymous gender-inclusive label of a rarely-seen Saudi sheikha.

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Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al-Saud, honorary president of the Arab Fashion Council in Riyadh, joined designers, influencers, and industry insiders from Ukraine to Lebanon for the inaugural season of fashion week at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, the hotel now infamous as the holding place of hundreds of royals and businessmen arrested in a state-sponsored corruption crackdown.

“Fashion has always an interest of Saudi Arabia,” Princess Noura told AFP at the event.

“It has not been something that wasn’t on the table or in the picture,” she added. “Our fashion council is trying to bring the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia to a whole new level, a whole new industry.”

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