Lebanese Fashion

by Talar Zambakjian Artinian

Fashion is something that not only serves to dress the body, shelter or cover oneself, it has evolved alongside the human being and has become a means of expression with which we have the opportunity to show the world what we are and what we think.

It’s a social, cultural and generational phenomenon that impacts and transforms collective thinking. These last months have been tragic for humanity, we have seen how bad decisions have changed the course of countries completely, six months since the Covid-19 spread throughout the world and has given us a change in our days, leading us to a “new life” that can be noticed on the catwalks of the world, social networks became a refuge. It definitely took a crisis to develop a tactic, so far we have not respected the planet and this is a wakeup call. Today this article is very different from always, I don’t want to tell you what dress or shoes you should wear, I just want us to use solidarity and make it fashionable.

There is a very popular phrase “home is where the heart is”, for those who don’t know me I was born in Lebanon and grew up during the civil war in this country. When the situation became much more dangerous, my family and I had to find shelter in  Paris for a year. Can you imagine a nine year old girl changing her entire environment because of this? It’s something that thousands of children still live with. My refuge was fashion, my creative way of expressing myself. I can say that I was born in a culture where fashion encompasses more than clothing, for us in Lebanon fashion is art.

Only a few weeks have passed since the tragic explosion in my country, I still remember the moment when this situation flooded the news; feeling panic, even if you are miles away is a terrible feeling, your body trembles and you only think at that moment, there is no way to change what you are living. Unfortunately, we Lebanese have reflections of war, but we have never seen this level of destruction in Beirut. This shockwave not only destroyed all the glass around it, it also destroyed homes, many lost their families and friends, there are still missing people and most unfortunately broke our hearts into pieces. For those of us who are far away, our eyes filled with tears when we thought about our families, friends (I myself lost two friends) and our city, life can change you in minutes and this is a clear example. In recent months, the economic crisis, the increase in poverty and the increase in prices have aggravated the needs of each of the country’s inhabitants, the increase in the transmission of Covid-19 has subjected the health system to a pressure from which it has hardly been able to escape.

Now social tensions are increasing and expectations for the future are radically complicated, the current level of social tension and insecurity subjects us to a significant level of stress. This explosion has affected the most vulnerable, our child population. This population has caused irreparable damage in more than 120 schools serving 55,000 children. The main hospitals were hit very badly too. And many cancer centres for children that are badly hurt and unable to treat the
patients. Furthermore, we must remember that in Lebanon there are more than two million refugees, this situation has
severely punished the refugees too.

Beirut with turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, sinuous and sunny, a geographical synthesis of an original natural beauty. I have asked myself, How can we restore the brightness and beauty to this country? Many questions and few answers, the truth is that the fight continues and we have much to do. I know that life has many lonely bridges to cross, today I have this space to address many young people who have courageously taken a step forward towards their professional future, building the path to their dreams by starting a new life.

As much as life hits us, we continue with force, a clear example of what Lebanon has lived through for years. Beirut has long been considered the new capital of fashion, as well as being generous and open to many cultures. A country that has the capacity to survive through fashion, there are more than 40 haute couture houses with up to 270 employees, for a very small country, fashion abounds in every corner. This is where the endless list of red carpet designers who dress celebrities at the Oscars, Cannes or the Grammys comes from. Conflicts, instability, have perfected the personality of each of its inhabitants, a city of opposites between ruins and luxuries, unique personalities have emerged. As Kayrouz would say, “We are not frivolous. But fashion has shown that Lebanon is more than war.”

Rabih Kayrouz: With its own Parisian vibe, from the designers who are in Paris and have made it their home. He is worthy of admiration for his soul, his culture, his sensitivity and his affinity. We can see his simplicity in his work, he makes all structure and movement a poetry. He designed a dress that requires more than 300 hours of work, being very dedicated to what he loves.

His building suffered irreparable damage, in addition to having suffered a small brain haemorrhage, 2 clots and 22 stitches. Rabih you are a phoenix capable of being reborn from your own ashes! Elie Saab With an uncontrollable taste for fashion, he was 11 years old when civil war broke out in Lebanon. The apartment where he lived with his family in a coastal suburb of Beirut was bombed. Fashion is nothing more than a synonym for hope and life, it’s his magical place, a way of saying no to violence, of cultivating love on difficult days. Neither the bombs nor the absence of a fashion industry in his country kept him from his goal. He is the master of lace, embroidery and femininity, self-taught in the world of fashion.

His building in the central district of Beirut was devastated by the blast, fortunately he and his team escaped unharmed.
Rami Kadi An extraordinary debut, he has performed in the French capital during fashion week, full of fascinating colours and silhouettes, glitters and lace. Rami found favour in the label’s fusion of romantic details and glamorous touches. “If you fall 7 times, you must get up 8”. All his effort was destroyed, but we are sure that everything he has built will rise much more strongly.

Zuhair Murad: Zuhair, whom I admire and respect, the key to his success is that he doesn’t have a single style, he makes us feel like true goddesses. From a young age he dreamed of being recognised internationally for his innate talent, he never doubted himself and when he moved to the city of Paris he studied fashion design. His first boutique opened in Beirut, in 1999 he paraded for the first time in Rome where he achieved resounding success and set his career on track. It stylises the female body, gives us that slender air to the silhouette that leads us to walk so firmly. Unfortunately it was one of the most affected by the shock wave in Beirut, destroying years of efforts in just a few minutes, more than 80% of work was destroyed, fortunately there were no human losses. Looking at the images, we cannot put the sadness aside, but we know that he will resurface from this tragedy and we will see him as we have never seen him.

I want to mention that there were many losses in Beirut, many restaurants, houses, jewellery stores and especially hospitals. We believe in hard work, in the willpower that each one has to be reborn in this devastating tragedy. No matter how difficult it may seem, there is always a way, when strength comes from the heart. We are born artists, no matter what conditions we find ourselves in, we will be able to get up amongst the rubble.

I want this to fill us with hope and inspiration, we fight every day, no matter how many times they want to knock you down, you must be strong. It’s important that the eyes of the world continue to look at us, at this moment we do more than make clothes, we are returning the light and beauty to Lebanon and the world. Remember that solidarity doesn’t belong to anyone, it belongs to everyone. You must continue standing Lebanon, supporting Lebanon, no matter where you are.

We shall rise again like the Phoenix


@talarz @be_a_starlette

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