The show in the western port city came weeks after the Saudi capital Riyadh hosted its first-ever Arab Fashion Week. NPR's Jackie Northam and Fatma Tanis covered the April event, which featured models wearing clothes by Jean Paul Gaultier and other designers from around the world:
"The first gowns by designers like Lebanon's Tony Ward and Bibisara from Kazakhstan were ultra-feminine — with long trains and an emphasis on sequins, feathers and beads...
"Saudi women regularly attend fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan. But the kingdom is still highly conservative and there are restrictions on what types of clothes can be exhibited at the Riyadh show — no cleavage, nothing above the knee and nothing too transparent. The audience was female only."
Jacob Abrian, the founder and CEO of the Dubai-based Arab Fashion Council that organized the Riyadh event, said at the time that Saudia Arabia was the most important market in the Arab region for fashion because of its young population with high purchasing power. He writes NPR in an email that Arab Fashion Week reflected "the serious steps taken to reform the country."
However, Abrian pans the drone catwalk. He notes that Dolce & Gabbana recently used drones for the first time in history in their 2018 show of handbags and accessories.
"The latest show in Saudi Arabia has copied D&G innovative idea in a very bad quality which absolutely doesn't reflect the vision and standards of the Arab Fashion Council," Abrian writes NPR.
Twitter users piled on the scorn after London student Jina Khoushnaw tweeted a video of the event she found on YouTube. Khoushnaw writes NPR that she posted it because she thought the show was "creative, different and extremely amusing too."