Arab creativity in the limelight at Beirut’s catwalk shows

October 22, 2017
Talent on the runway. Dress by Lebanese designer Elie Bejjani. (L.I.P.S)

Beirut - In an exquisite display of col­ours, fabrics and embroidery, the “Designers and Brands” catwalk shows celebrated ris­ing and well-established Arab fashion designers in addition to creators from Turkey and France over three days in Beirut.
Taking place at the Grand Ball­room of the Four Seasons Hotel, the event showcased 29 “back-to-back” fashion shows featuring designers and brands from nine countries.
Johnny Fadlallah, director of the organising company L.I.P.S. Management, described the large gathering of designers over a short period of time as “a new innova­tive formula” in the fashion show business.
“It is not a fashion week or a regular show but it is a pioneer­ing fashion project that gives de­signers the opportunity to be the heroes of their own activity. We provide them with a sumptuous venue and large public relations and media exposure and give them the possibility to invite their own audience under their own brand name,” Fadlallah said.
There are no criteria for par­ticipation or selection. Once the project was announced, designers could apply online. A participation fee of $300 per outfit presented on the catwalk was charged by L.I.P.S., which provided the mod­els.
“I am not here to judge who is good and who is not,” Fadlallah said. “All designers are welcome. We have young talents and very well-established fashion design­ers. It is an open platform to give exposure to every person who wants to advertise himself, have his show in the most elegant way.”
Designers from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, France and Turkey presented at least ten pieces from their new collections, including evening and wedding dresses, trendy outfits, accessories and lingerie.
Iraqi designer Zead al-Athary’s collection inspiration from Iraq’s heritage was reflected in tradi­tional embroidery and striking gold and black used for his even­ing dresses. Glittering crowns and golden and copper accessories spe­cially prepared for the show com­pleted the outfits.
“In previous collections the de­signs were mainly inspired from Iraqi folklore that reflected Iraqi history and culture,” Athary said. “This new collection is different in the sense that it is a mixture of Iraqi heritage, haute couture and mod­ern designs. All the dresses have beading and embroidery, a feature of traditional Iraqi dresses.”
“The organisers gave us the op­portunity as young Arab designers to present our designs in a profes­sional and high standard way. Pre­senting in Beirut is an important step towards international expo­sure for Arab designers,” added Athary, who had participated in two previous fashion events or­ganised by L.I.P.S. in the Lebanese capital.
Unlike Athary, his compatriot Zahraa al-Rubaie was a first-timer in Beirut, where she launched her “Orchid Collection” of haute cou­ture and evening gowns inspired by the tropical flower.
“I have already participated in fashion shows in Bahrain and Cai­ro but it is the first time in Beirut,” said the 23-year-old designer, who has her own brand boutique “Az­ure” in Baghdad. “I hope that my designs will be well received here. Beirut is always a big test for rising designers and a platform for inter­national exposure.”
Well-established Saudi designer Amina al-Jassim’s ten-piece collec­tion of luxury evening gowns and a wedding dress drew applause from the audience. Jassim chose to dress her models with the finest fabrics, such as tulle and satin, and a wide colour palette, in­cluding brown, red, blue, green and beige in addition to black.
“I have been participating in Beirut fashion shows for the past 16 years. I like to be here mostly because in Lebanon the events are widely covered by the media, which is very im­portant for designers to become known. It is the best place for a designer to get exposure,” she said.
Lebanon’s Reem Kachmar’s con­ceptual collection of 12 evening gowns and one bridal dress were inspired by women’s paintings of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. The mixing of rich fabrics and embroi­dery reflected a blend of East and West, she said.
Creations by Syrian designer Manal Ajaj brought “antiquity fashion” back to the catwalk. Her collection “Jasmin Goddess” was inspired by ancient figures, in­cluding Atargatis, the chief god­dess of northern Syria in classical antiquity; Julia Domna, the wife of Roman Caesar Septimius Severus; and Queen Zenobia, the ancient ruler of Palmyra.
Lebanese designer Jane Konsol presented her new line of lingerie, including baby doll dresses, cor­sets and brassieres.
Thrilled by the obvious success of the inaugural event, Fadlallah, whose company won the Golden Star award of quality for the sec­tion of event management and fashion in Geneva, said the second edition of the event is scheduled for March 2018.
“We have just announced it and we are already fully booked. I be­lieve we have reaffirmed Beirut’s status as the capital of Arab fash­ion,” he added.