Timi Hayek lights up Fashion Design with the Sublime confidence of Youth

Talented designer Timi Hayek is a do it all. Her atelier is located above her boutique in Monot, in Beirut and she spends her days working on her sewing machine, playing with delicate fabrics, that she gracefully shapes into beautiful collections.

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Timi Hayek

Timi is a designer and an illustrator. She studied Fashion Print at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Arts & Design in London  and received the Liberty Art Fabrics Award for her print design, selected to be sold at British department store, Liberty & Co. The young graduate interned at renowned couture houses, Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in London and Paris. She then moved to Beirut in 2013, and started working with the up-cycled furniture brand Bokja.

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Pink Moon SS 16 by Timi Hayek

While at Bokja, one of her colleagues suggested she apply to the Starch Foundation, a launching platform for emerging design talents in Lebanon founded by Maison Rabih Kayrouz and Tala Hajjar. Timi’s portfolio was selected and she enrolled in the program for a year, gaining exposure for her brand and getting to meet her clientele in the concept store in Saifi where she exhibited and sold her collections. Between one sale and another, the young designer set up a small studio inside the store and kept working on her clothes, creating the garments in front of clients.

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Pink Moon SS 16 by Timi Hayek

 

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Pink Moon SS 16 by Timi Hayek

A year and a half ago, Timi Hayek opened her boutique in historic neighborhood Monot, and set up her atelier upstairs in the same space. The designer embraces slow fashion, handcrafting the clothes herself or with the help of a carefully selected couturier. The young talent curates each aspect of her label: she handpicks the fabrics and sketches garments through dreamy illustrations.

She then sits on her sewing machine and comes downstairs to greet clients looking to purchase her elegant creations. Timi also models in her seasonal fashion shoot campaigns set in breezy atmospheres.

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Timi Hayek

During her one year at Starch, the young designer’s collections were showcased in Dubai, for Fashion Forward style week, which gave her exposure to a cosmopolitan clientele. Clients from Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates pop into her boutique in Beirut or purchase her creations online on MySouk.com and Lebelik.com.

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Pink Moon SS 16 by Timi Hayek

 

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Pink Moon SS 16 by Timi Hayek

This year, she was part of the Starch delegation exhibiting in London at the International Fashion Showcase under the theme Blueprint Beirut.

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Timi Hayek is preparing for an upcoming runway show at Fashion Forward Dubai on October 20, where she will be participating as a Starch Foundation alumn. The collection that she will showcase is inspired by the Scottish Highlands. The clothes will be composed of a palette of washed out linens in faded tones and earthy colours, gold and silver jersey along with the characteristic checkered patterns. Timi’s collections themes flow spontaneously from the choice of fabric. The designer appreciates interesting textures, play of reliefs, soft feel and aged effects. Observing the way the textile behaves guides her in choosing the shape of garments.

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Timi sketching at her desk

She then starts cutting, draping and sewing. For her latest Spring Summer 2016 collection, Pink Moon, she envisioned a flow of summery pleats on dresses and skirt ensembles in pastel shades of pink. Her previous Fall Winter 2015 Dusk collection set a nocturnal ambiance through dark blue and purple dresses with touches of velvet. She embellishes fabrics with delicate embroideries and her whimsical illustrations. Timi Hayek favors above all things the handmade aspect of the creative process and from one season to another interprets inspirational fabrics into a poetic wardrobe.

Follow Timi on Instagram , twitter & www.timihayek.com

Kamsyn, October 2016

Article originally published in Kamsyn – October 10, 2016

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Azzi & Osta Famous Fashion duo turns Up the Volume

The dynamic duo George Azzi and Assaad Osta are putting their mark on the fashion world with their couture label Azzi & Osta. They have imposed their signature vintage chic style on the Lebanese fashion scene and are conquering the world one gown at a time.

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Azzi & Osta     Photo Tarek Moukaddem

 

 The first notes

The interest in fashion grew for both designers from an early age. George used to create outfits made of paper and cardboard that he presented to his classmates and family on fashion shows he organized at school. Assaad learned the craft from his mother. She used to sew her own dresses, and the long hours she would spend finishing an outfit with meticulous attention to details taught him to strive for perfection.

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Azzi & Osta   Photo Tarek Moukaddem

 

They both attended the three years fashion design program at Esmod, and distinguished themselves graduating with the Prize of the Jury for Assaad and the Prize of the President of the Jury for George. This landed them a two weeks internship at Elie Saab, which turned to a full time job.

During their two years working in Elie Saab’s design studio and atelier, they were exposed to volumes and structures, and had to explore the technique themselves in order to build the archives of the house which was newly venturing in this area. They experimented with larger shoulder and peplum style and deepened their knowledge of structures, setting the ground for what would become the signature style of the Azzi & Osta label. After their experience at Saab they ventured as freelancers each on their own. One common project brought them together as they decided to join forces. This collaboration made them realize their compatibility and convinced them to start their brand.

The duo goes crescendo

 

Azzi & Osta launched their first collection at the end of 2010 in the midst of an uncertain environment in the Middle East. Their opulent creations were well received and they started designing a collection each season along with bridal. Most of their designs are couture, with some capsule ready-to-wear pieces.

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Azzi & Osta  Photo Tarek Moukaddem

 

Clients can personalize the styles but Azzi & Osta ensure to infuse their identity in each piece. The house is engrained in the twenty first century, and it is not rare for orders to be completed entirely electronically, even fittings can be made at distance to finalize the outfit. When they were only starting their label, a dress that they had sent to a photographer in New York for a shooting was spotted by Tyra Banks.

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Azzi & Osta  Photo Tarek Moukaddem

 

Wonderful was their surprise when they found out the photographer wanted to keep their dress longer for this not so anonymous new client! Azzi & Osta styles have since caught the eye of celebrities across the planet; Nadine Labaki, Kesha, Aiswhara Rai or Giuliana Rancic. The label has grown and the designers have established their showroom and atelier in Tabaris, Beirut. They will soon place designs in selected boutiques in Dubai.

 

 

A signature style

 

The designers’ showroom is a window on their vintage style revisited with a modern conceptual approach. Among a couture box, multicolored candies and miniature roses Azzi & Osta dresses are twirling on their hangers. Their fetish fabrics are brocades, faille, gazar, tulle or crêpe, sprinkled with delicately placed details of lace and embroideries and often distinguished with color blocking.

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They master structured volumes, adding layered peplum to beautiful gowns, carefully crafting a magnificent tulip dress, and pairing modern cropped tops with impressive petticoat style skirts. The outfits are designed and tailored in their Beirut atelier, and embroideries are gracefully applied both locally and in India.

The designers are currently working on their fall winter 2016/17 collection which they revealed has a royal touch to it, in a neutral palette of black, whites enriched by gold and silver and applied pearls. Another elegantly walked step on their road to new successes.

Follow Azzi & Osta :   Website   Insta @Azziandosta 

Kamsyn, June 2016

Article originally published in Kamsyn – June 27, 2016

Lara Khoury’s Voyage to Fashion Horizons

Lara Khoury is leading her eponymous label to broad horizons. Her three signature fashion lines have traveled from America to the Middle East, all the way through East Asia.

Lara’s story is one of transforming constraints into opportunities. She grew up with a penchant for mathematics, architecture and fashion. Her aunt who owned a maternity clothing boutique inspired her to explore her fashion interest.

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After two years of classes at ESMOD in Beirut, she completed her studies in Paris. In summer 2006, she came home for vacation, and had to remain in Beirut due to the war and an expiring visa to France. Lara joined the house of Elie Saab working in couture and ready-to-wear, which gave her access to the industry’s behind the scenes. In 2008, she was ready to launch her own label.

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Amidst a chaotic political environment, her conceptual show in an old renovated house in Batroun created buzz and caught the eye of Rabih Kayrouz. He contacted her for a project intended to shed light on emerging Lebanese designers. First a fashion show in Faraya Mzaar brought together the selected designers, then the Starch Foundation came about offering a unique opportunity for talented young creators to showcase their work to clients and the press.

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Lara Khoury    Photo Anthony Saroufim

A few months later, the designer decided to open her own atelier and showroom. She initially envisioned it in an abandoned factory, but having no means to rent such a large space, she transformed her own studio apartment in Gemmayzé. Wooden doors found in the streets of Beirut were converted into raw looking parquet. The furniture and setting is movable; the open space encompassing the atelier and office during workdays can be clustered and freed up for appointments and events.

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In 2013, when Marseille was the European capital of culture, Lara was invited to represent her country at the Maison Mediterranéenne des Métiers de la Mode. The exposure to leading fashion houses and top-notch speakers complemented her creative background with a solid business foundation enabling her to take her brand to international markets. She now sells her collections in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates as well as in the United States, Japan and Ecuador, and more recently in Iran.

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Lara Khoury started with women ready-to-wear and launched SOW her couture signature in February 2015 then her men collection last October. The designer defines her style as experimental and minimalist. She galvanizes silhouettes through volumes; oversized tutus contrast with tailored tops and intricate pleats structure flowing dresses. Her fabrics are soft and delicate; muslin, cotton, tulle, satin or organza and she leaves trims with an unfinished feel embracing a natural look.

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The men collection echoes women’s ; independent, daring, and comfortable ; a collar with no reverse, modernized proportions for jackets, shirts and pants and fine fabrics of linen and wool. For her SOW couture collection she presents four bridal dresses along tailored men suits. Lara stays true to her effortless look; her customized gowns are an airy and graceful alternative for brides to dance the night away on their big day.

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Kamsyn sat with Lara for a fresh & quick talk on her Entrepreneurial debut: insights on the challenges faced and eventual initiatives that could boost fashion entrepreneurs in Lebanon.

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Lara Khoury    Photo Manon Nouailhac

Were you encouraged to pursue an entrepreneurial path or was a more traditional role expected of you?

When I grew up, wanting to be a fashion designer was not well regarded by society, but my parents encouraged me to embrace what I liked. I could not have been fulfilled with an office job, I had the desire to work independently and express my own point of view. Even though sometimes at the beginning there was some criticism, envisioning my goal kept driving me.

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Lara Khoury   Photo Anthony Saroufim

What advice would you give to women looking to launch their own entrepreneurial venture?

It is a difficult choice to be an entrepreneur. Follow your instinct and passion, and if you love what you do, there will be ups and downs but do not get discouraged. I personally learned while doing and acquired a maturity that I did not have at the beginning, now I am more careful with my choices.

What initiative can you think of to support women entrepreneurs in fashion in Lebanon ?

Fashion is a challenging field in Lebanon. We lack a federation that could help structure the sourcing of fabrics, organize an official fashion week or provide financial and managerial support to emerging talents. The opportunities here are lead by private initiatives, and family support was key for me.

Follow Lara   Facebook 

                         Insta @larakhoury

Kamsyn, July 2016

Article originally published in Kamsyn – July 24, 2016

We go all nuts for him

Behind the name Les Mauvais Garçons (the bad boys) hides a passionate pastry chef, Raja Farah, dedicated to composing delicious desserts in which each ingredients is carefully selected to delight our taste buds.

The chef’s favourite ingredient? Hazelnut, an ingredient that can be interpreted in multiple ways. For his choco-hazelnut tarte, Raja substitutes chocolate and hazelnut powder for the base, then fills it with different chocolate textures; creamy dark chocolate, topped by a crunchy chocolate crust then sprinkled with chocolate and hazelnut cream. The menu, which changes twice a year, features the classics of French pastry. Pastry cooking is a meticulous experience, in which dosage and timing follow strict rules from which one cannot deviate for a successful dessert. Originality can be added once the basics are mastered, and for Raja it resides in the choice of ingredients. He proposes unique combinations such as choux au spéculos, with a crunchy layer of biscuit and almond powder. The young chef also infuses some local flavours in his desserts; orange blossom, pistachio, apricot paste or rose water, and creates modern compositions such as his tarte Maamoul with almonds, hazelnuts and chocolate. For his lemon tarte, red fruits Pavlova, apple and salted butter caramel cake or his citrus fruit salad flavoured with twelve spices, Raja selects seasonal ingredients, as he says fruits are much tastier when ripe and fresh.

As a child, Raja was passionate about pastry. He learned his first recipes from his grandmothers. He still remembers the first cookbook he received which encouraged him to tackle more difficult recipes. For his university studies, he opted for a more ‘conventional’ curriculum, then worked in advertising, a choice guided by his parents who noted the instability and difficulty of the cooking profession. Between classes and tiny apartments without a suitable kitchen, Raja left cooking aside for a while. Then one day, that was it, he decided to pursue his long-time passion. The young man chose the prestigious Ferrandi school in Paris, and after a year of intensive studies, he completed trainings with the biggest names in pastry, Christophe Michalak and Jean Francois Piège, before coming back home to Lebanon to open his own pastry shop. In his lab in Badaro, the chef receives clients’ requests and prepares his desserts alone behind the oven, while planning possibly to open a boutique soon. Clients come back for his home-made desserts, and the chef also proposes a selection of choux and mini cakes with multiple flavours; vanilla, maple syrup, pecan or green tea and jasmine to cater for events. For his creations in which each ingredient is selected with care, Raja rhymes the delicious with the gorgeous.

Article originally published in L’Officiel Levant, June 2017 Issue

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From tip to toe

An airy style, contemporary lines and smart design, the heels of young footwear designer Jennifer Chamand have been spotted among celebrities like Bella Hadid or Amal Clooney. The talented woman with a determined character tells us about her journey…

– When and why did you start your own line of footwear?

I launched my debut collection on 20th October 2016, 10 days before giving birth to my twin girls! It took me 18 months from the time I decided to embark on this journey, to setting up my company, prototyping, sampling and finally launching my brand. I’ve had a passion for shoes ever since I could remember revising for my exams when I was little, wearing my mother’s shoes, saying I studied better in heels!
My dream to create shoes never left me, even when I worked in finance where I wore towering heels and used to get told the trading floor was not a catwalk! I’m a very determined person and my motto is “Don’t dream your life, live your dreams”, so I had to live mine!

– What is your background and prior experience?

I studied Economics at the London School of Economics, which encouraged me to start my career in Banking. I worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch for 6 years and my last year at Julius Baer. It was high pressure and I loved it. But I had to stay true to myself and pursue my passion. Whilst in banking, I enrolled in footwear making and shoe design courses during weekends and during the summer at Central Saint Martins and London’s Cordwainers’ College to deepen my technical knowledge and keep my inspiration alive. I also took intensive Italian lessons every day for 4 months to be able to present my business plan to my manufacturer in Italian!

– How did you manage to create a unique branding?

The shoe market is extremely competitive and I wanted to have a point of recognition to stand out. I thoroughly worked with an artisan atelier in Milan over 18 months to develop a unique concept that would give my shoes a distinctive look: le “Talon Aiguille” (literal French translation for the “Needle Heel”) where the gold-plated eye of the needle is delicately carved and inlaid into each heel. You can wear the shoes with or without the strap and in both cases the shoes are recognizable because of their subtle “eye of the needle” detail. The position of the strap below the ankle gives the impression of elongating the leg rather than cutting into it.

– What inspires when designing a collection?

The collections are driven by my love for the abstract geometry art movement and my mind for numbers, a reduction to essentials of form and colour, employing an analytical approach in the translation of colour and texture, the purity of the lines, the methodical precision. During the creative process I see, I touch, I smell… a totally sensorial experience at its apogee!

– How did you decide to introduce the brand to the market?  

 I was so lucky to be introduced to (Browns CEO) Holli Rogers and Laura Larbalestier (Women’s Buying Director) to whom I presented my prototype which they loved. They asked me to show them my sample collection when it was ready, I had less than 2 months to get the production finalised, but I managed to do it and they loved it! I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect partner to launch my debut collection, Browns is such an iconic shop, its buying is so refined and edgy and is a champion of emerging talent. I couldn’t be more grateful to them.

– Any projects for the near future? What is the next collection you are working on?

Browns just confirmed to me the third collection! They selected 10 new designs which will be available in stores and online from September 2017. Also I am doing a pop-up at Harrods the month of September and I couldn’t be more excited! It is a huge opportunity and a privilege to be able to showcase my shoes at such a legendary luxury department store. The collection I am currently working on is SS18 (in Fashion you live in the future!). Apart from new colours and textures, I am thrilled to say that I am currently prototyping a flat shoe! It will of course still incorporate my signature “Eye of the Needle”, which is a big challenge technically to produce, but will add such elegance, and character, to a classic flat shoe.

Article originally published in L’Officiel Levant, May 2017 Issue

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Muito BEY, colours and tastes

A colourful atmosphere, savoury meals and a fusion of culture, Lisbon gets up to date with Lebanese cuisine with its new address: Muito BEY.

In a modern setting, Muito BEY offers a Lebanese menu in the heart of the trendy neighbourhood Cais do Sodré. The numerous similarities between the two capital cities inspired Ezzat Ellaz, the entrepreneur behind Muito BEY. The weather first of all, which allowed him to find fresh local ingredients. The culinary tastes are also similar; a preference for lemon dressings, coriander, and some notes of garlic, but also the colours, sky blue, red roof tiles, sun and azulejos, the ceramic tiles adding a particular touch to the restaurant’s décor which was conceived by a Portuguese architect. Muito BEY is the bridge between ‘Muito’, from the Portuguese expression Muito Bom that means very good, and BEY the abbreviation of Beirut’s airport. On the menu feature tasty pastries; thyme manouché, cheese manouché or vegetarian and homemade bread, hot and cold mezzés, Chermandar, beetroot seasoned with tahini, Flaiflé Hamra or Labné Meklié and grilled skewers. The revisited traditional recipes are born from collaboration with Barbara Abdeni Massad, author of the cook book Soup for Syria. While 90% ingredients are selected locally, zaatar, sumac and other specialities are sourced from Lebanon and also used in cocktails with original recipes and names such Ahlan, Habibi or Badaro.

Ezzat Ellaz studied hotel management at the Ecole Hôtelière de Glion in Switzerland, and then pursued an international career in the Food & Beverage industry. He accumulated experience in the United Arab Emirates and Germany, then moved back to Lebanon and worked for five years in consulting, still in the Food & Beverage sector. His contribution to the creation of several restaurants across the Middle East fuelled his desire to open his own place. Passionate about Lebanese cuisine, he points out its versatility, which makes it adaptable to various concepts; from tapas, to fast food or luxury restaurants. Three years ago, Ezzat went on a vacation to Lisbon and noticed the growing dynamism of the city. He started looking into the project. He observed the habits of locals, where they like to go out, what they prefer to eat and what new restaurants are attracting clients in the city centre. In October 2015 Ezza moved to Lison. He found his location at the address of the old post office headquarters, in a once neglected neighbourhood that became in the past few years the IT address of the city’s nightlife. The restaurant now attracts a cosmopolite clientele delighted to find Lebanese cuisine in their city, a cuisine that they discovered through trips to other capitals, but also amateurs, curious to experience a taste of Lebanon.

Article originally published in L’Officiel Levant – March 2017 Issue

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Mohanad Kojak, couture as a means of expression

A couture label that tells the story of its designer, his emotions, his encounters and the society that surrounds him, Mohanad Kojak expresses himself through dramatic clothes, modern or nostalgic but always full of meaning.

Each one of Mohanad Kojak’s collections reveals a story, a point of view, an experience of the life of the designer. He is inspired by human interactions; a love relationship or friendship, family ties, a society that can sometimes be oppressive, and translates his feelings in the beauty of his art. His latest collection, Winter 2017, starts with a new-born love, the enthusiasm of an encounter that gives him energy and that he translates into a streetwear, sporty style. Then the deceit changes the course of the collection. It takes a more rebel allure, more neglected with accents of 90s grunge. Another of his collections is inspired by his funerals. He imagines the attendants: family, friends, colleagues or enemies; those that came because they care, those that came for the show or by duty and obligation. For his first bridal collection; he chose to represent the different motivations: the dress of the bride seeking protection, the one running after status, the materialistic or the fool in love. He dresses his mother, his biggest support, the woman who taught him to observe without judgment, as a bride, the one who understood that marriage is all those aspects at once; but mostly a partnership, a relationship that evolves and becomes what we make of it. With his best friend, a writer, Mohanad prepares a book for each collection in which they legend the images with deep quotes playing with tones: sometimes nice, sometimes aggressive, sad or full of hope.

He is only 18 when his adventure begins, by chance, 4 years ago. Mohanad is then a student in Applied Arts and Graphic Design. A project for one of his classes leads him to direct a fashion movie in which he presents a collection of clothes, outits that he creates himself. The models are quickly noticed and clients start coming in. The designer, who has no atelier or office at the time, meets them in cafés or at their homes. The brand starts growing and the young designer leaves university to dedicate himself to it. He opens a studio in Cairo and his collections are found in boutiques across the country and soon across the Middle East. Mohanad recalls that as a child he would go to the tailor to repair clothes for his family, the latter would show him the ropes of the job, and it is with that same atelier that today the designer works to make his creations. He picks noble fabrics, satin, silks and embroideries that he burns, stains or ages to bring more soul to the clothes. He does not hesitate to use furniture fabric to enrich his collections with sophisticated prints and textures difficult to find in Egypt. A do it all, he contributes to styling, beauty and photography for the mise en scène of his collections. The designer continues to observe life to transpose its richness and complexity. He registered again one year ago in university to complete design studies and currently is working on his new Spring Summer Collection. Inspired by Renaissance; soft colours and gold accents, smooth architecture but rich in details, chandeliers, paintings and other objects of the era, to which he will add emotions lived in the moment during the creative process.

Article originally published in L’Officiel Levant – March 2017 Issue

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