‘Blueprint Beirut’ in London

It’s Fashion Week season for Fall Winter 2016 collections! New York shows are almost over and next stop is London. If you happen to be in the city, do not miss the IFS (International Fashion Showcase), at the Somerset House. This year’s edition ‘Fashion Utopias’, will be the fifth edition of the annual event sponsored by the British Council and British Fashion Council.

closeuponprint     timihayeksketch copy
Illustrations by Timi Hayek – Please do not use without permission

For the first time, Lebanese designers will participate in the event. In an exhibit titled ‘Blueprint Beirut’, and in partnership with The Arab British Centre, eight Starch Foundation designers will each showcase a creation reflecting their vision of Beirut. Pieces by Margherita Abi-Hanna, Joe Arida, Mira Hayek, Timi Hayek, Rayya Morcos, Nour Najem, Sevag Dilsizian and Bashar Assaf will be displayed in a traditional Lebanese home setting re-imagined by architect Elie Metni. Lebanese talent takes over London!

‘Blueprint Beirut’ will be held at West Wing Galleries, Somerset House, London as part of ‘Fashion Utopias’ from February 19 to 23

Jolie Lola’s pretty handbags

Nathalie El Metni crafts handbags with creativity and a touch of glamour. Her designs are thought for modern ladies with an active lifestyle.

retro clutch tribal snake      Slide1 copy.jpg

Jolie Lola’s story started over 10 years ago when Nathalie decided as a hobby to design beach bags and accessories for herself and her friends in Beirut. Her line was a success but she decided to flee the country like many during the 2006 war and moved back to Canada. In 2009 she found herself at a turning point and felt the need to move to a new path. She took the leap to pursue her passion and set up her brand, Jolie Lola. Nathalie is now based in Beirut where she sources her leather from Italy and works closely with local artisans to design her creations.


Nathalie’s style is urban and versatile. She revamped the classic fanny pack into an elegant ‘Belt Clutch’ that one can wear attached to the waist with a belt, on the shoulder/across bag with a chain or held in the hand. Another one of her key designs is the leather backpack with a fringed pompon, also offered in a mini version. Her collections are colorful and she plays around with leather using different types of skins: from painted prints on exotic skins to embossed patterns on calfskins. She adds unique touches from her travels like an ancient mosaic piece found at an antique dealer and also works with semi-precious stones such as tourmaline, turquoise or onyx to craft refined pieces of jewelry with an oriental vibe. Each piece comes in limited edition or can be exclusively customized, and is wrapped in a reusable eco-friendly playful canvas bag. Nathalie’s way of thinking goes with the evolving times, as she seeks to design accessories for women that sometimes have no time to change between the office, the errands and the soirées.


Price: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆




Sitt. Samia’s Closet

Samia Saab’s closet is unlike any other. Inside it she holds a collection of textiles, garments and accessories from past centuries, which tell the fashion history of our country.


A graceful elderly lady with a bright smile, Samia recounts our fashion history from the 16th Century to today’s famed Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz. The Emir Fakhr-al-Din introduced costume to Lebanese society. Sober and elegant, the outfits were distinguished by a cotton or hessian string according to the class the wearer belonged to. The clothes were made of silk, cotton or wool. The Emir and princesses had the most elaborate clothing, mimicked by notables and cavaliers. Peasants adorned the black Sherwal and covered their heads with the Labbade, a hat made with goat wool from the mountains. Women wore long dresses or skirts, and embroidered headdresses, which held the Mendil (veil), while noble ladies carried Tantours, a sophisticated headdress made up of a tall conic silver tube around which floated a silk veil.


When she was five, Samia Saab went up to the attic of her tree storey house. In an old wooden trunk brought back by her father from Mexico, she found her grandmother’s petticoats. Her passion for fashion blossomed, as she started organizing masquerade balls for her friends and neighbors, and crafting costumes for her guests. Her inspiration came from the arts, nature and her travels from which she brought back treasured dolls, costumes and fabrics. She then opened a boutique and confectioned with her couturiers Kaftans, Abayas, and Kubrans, a straight gilet cut, paired with a Sherwal generally covered by a skirt. A browse through her creations, introduces us to Sarma, gold thread embroidery, brocades, and embellished silk from Zouk’s artisanal district. The luxurious fabrics and traditional techniques that Sitt. Samia uses in her creations are an invitation to travel through time.

samiacloset2                   samiacloset1

Creative Laboratory: Fashion Design at LAU

Lebanese talents have raised the name of Lebanon in fashion spheres for decades offering our small country a place of choice in fashion weeks and on red carpets across the world. With the LAU Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design, the new generation of talents is getting ready to take the fashion world by storm.


The four years program, launched a couple of years ago, was designed in collaboration with Elie Saab and the London College of Fashion to bring a leading university’s standard of education to aspirant fashion designers. When students are not attending classes, they stick around in the lab perfecting their skills with state of the art material. Digital printers, silent sewing machines, heat pressing, everything is designed to encourage students to experiment with textiles and cuts. They learn to look beyond the ordinary, to be creators of fashion. They attend deconstruct, reconstruct workshops tearing down a classic suit jacket to turn it into an avant-guarde top, revisit menswear tailoring techniques for women’s wear and learn to create laminated fabric with plastic pills and a shopping bag. They are also encouraged to embrace the heritage of their region; traditional textiles, embroideries, but also crafts from outside the world of fashion or even pop culture. The legend Sabah inspired a student who spray-painted the back of an oversized denim jacket with the image of the singer.


Students can pick an area of focus such as Menswear or Swimwear and perfect it. They are prepared to be global players in leading fashion and design houses across the world or start their own businesses. Throughout the program they are exposed to the realities of the sector, collaborating with international industry professionals and on company projects. Jason Steel, who teaches students to challenge the status quo, has volunteered with Inaash to add a modern design touch to the traditional Palestinian embroideries. Students have brought a splash of color to Bensimon footwear, creating a capsule collection around the theme of crystals, which was exhibited in the brand’s Paris store. The patchwork collage sweater of a student, who engineered together 130 pieces caught the eyes of a leading retailer in Beirut. More collaborations are planned to infuse outlets across Lebanon with a young daring spirit, while offering a window for the up and coming talents to display their works. The top standard institution is a welcome boost to an industry, which benefits from a rich pool of young dynamic talents, in need of additional support structures to encourage them to thrive.






The Chocolate Fairy

For the Salon du Chocolat, at Biel in Beirut last week, pairs of designers and chocolatiers fashioned chocolate into beautiful creations.


Just as Cinderella’s fairy godmother used her magic wand to transform a pumpkin into a carriage, rags into a ball dress and mice into horses, the pastry chef Romy Zakhour, recreated a fairy tale. With her expert hands, she turned chocolate into a ‘One thousand and One Nights’ ensemble with a dress, a magic carpet and a genie’s lamp. Romy’s magic formula? Melt the dark chocolate at 50° Celsius to start crystallization, refresh it to 27°Celsius, then quickly raise temperature by a couple of degrees to reach desired texture. Use 1026 tiny square shaped bars for the bustier and skirt, ornate with pearls and flowers, and cover collar gently with gold dust. Mix chocolate with sugar to obtain paste to shape the lamp and carpet. Bond the different elements with melted chocolate. Top the recipe with passion and a solid know how and you will obtain an elegantly dressed up outfit.


Romy’s passion began the minute she put her hands into the craft of chocolate making. Her father started the now renowned glacier and chocolatier Evasion. Romy initially destined herself to a career in architecture, but opted for Hotel Management which was closer to her father’s business. Her conviction came the first time she assisted her father in his artisan shop. From then on, she traveled regularly to Europe to perfect her skills, attending a ganache workshop in Belgium or a Christmas bûche making class in France. Last year, at 24 years old, she was the youngest chocolatier to participate in the Salon du Chocolat’s 1rst Edition, creating a dress with white, milk and dark chocolate. The chocolate fairy’s creations such as ‘Perles de Nuit’ a tea infused chocolate ganache covered in jasmine flavored petals bring style and beauty to the delicious.

dresses       chocodresses

The Chocolate dresses Fashion Show took place on November 12 and the dresses exhibit from November 12 to 14 at Biel

The Ladies Furrier

Mr. Dikran Tamirian is a furrier and a storyteller. His epic life story is one of resilience and drive. He was born around the end of the 1920s, and his fur atelier, in Bellevue, Mount Lebanon, is still bustling with activity.

AtelierMarina      atelierMarina2

The furrier first learned the craft from his mother, Mayranouche. A twelve-year old fleeing the Armenian genocide, she was kidnapped by the Turks and placed in the village-town Severek. She met Hovhannès and ran away with him to Aleppo. In 1930, she heard that her brother, Agop Kermezian, was alive and living in Paris. He was a furrier for Jean Patou and other notorious couturiers. She traveled to him and learned his trade, while pursuing a hairdressing diploma. Three years later, she settled with her husband and son in Beirut where she started working at a salon de coiffure. Soon enough, she decided to dedicate herself to fur couture, and her brother sent her a sewing machine from Paris. At the time a few fur houses were establishing themselves in Beirut, reinforcing the city’s reputation as a capital of style and refinement, which attracted locals and foreigners. The oldest furrier in Beirut was the renowned Gabriel Djanandji, later joined by his sons. He opened a prestigious boutique on Bab Idriss, at the heart of the city.


Dikran’s family lived in one bedroom, in an apartment with other families on Rue de l’Armée. The room was divided between a living area and the atelier, where Dikran assisted his mom by pedaling to activate the sewing machine, as there was no engine at the time. The elegant ladies of Beirut’s high society came to the atelier for their fittings. In 1946, Dikran decided to sail away to Europe to perfect his craft. He spent a year in Paris, six months in London, then two years in Berlin where he did an apprenticeship with his uncle. In 1949, Dikran set up a vast atelier shop, maison Marina (Mayranouche’s surname) on George Picot Street. He traveled to Paris, London and Frankfort to purchase his furs, and learned their treatment and cleaning in the United States. In 1967 he gained exclusive representation of Christian Dior Haute Fourrure in Lebanon and held fashion shows at Phoenicia hotel’s nightclub Le Paon Rouge. At the start of the civil war his atelier was vandalized and all his belongings, including appliances, machines and merchandise, were stolen. With the support of his suppliers who had become his friends, and a boutique put at his disposal by the Summerland hotel, he started over to reach new successes. And the story goes on.

Marina Fur 2      Marina Fur1 2     

Fourrures Marina
Bellevue “Awkar
: +961 4 543463
: +961 3 671710
📞: +961 1 869666
Direct: +961 1 791430

Le Salon du Chocolat Show

The 2nd Edition of the Salon du Chocolat at Biel, invites us to explore the rich array of flavors, shapes and textures that chocolate lets us indulge in, including, of course, fashion.


Organized in parallel with the Beirut Cooking festival, the Salon du Chocolat will kickoff with a chocolate couture Fashion Show. Lebanese designers teaming up with talented pastry chefs have played with the codes of the One Thousand and One Nights tale. Motifs, embellishments and transparencies will be featured in an enchanting presentation of chocolate dresses, tunics and sherwals. Guest of honor, Abed Mahfouz, has concocted a delightful chocolate creation in collaboration with chef Charles Azar.

The runway show will take place on Thursday, November 12 at 12pm. For those who will miss it, the delicate dresses will be exhibited at the Salon during the entire event. Chocolate tastings, chef appearances, workshops and live recipe demonstrations from Lebanese and international chocolatiers are also on the Salon du Chocolat’s appetizing program. Sahtein!

The Salon du Chocolat will be held from November 12 to 14, from 11am to 8pm at Biel

2626 boutique: Three generations, one passion

In the newcomer boutique in Kantari, the ladies behind 2626 will gradually reveal its secrets as you walk around and discover the miscellaneous objects and clothes that make up the store’s selection.

Tiaratops      Nadatops

2626 is the work of three women, the grandmother, the mother and the daughter. The grandmother, Rosemary Jennings, half British, half Lebanese, learned to sew on her own, and set up her atelier in Beirut in the 1950’s, designing dresses for ladies evening occasions. Her daughter Nada joined, adding her own touch. She favours dressy evening clothes that embrace the shape of the body with a sexy flair. A couple of years ago, Nada’s daughter, Tiara Ghandour, came on board. After fashion design studies at Esmod, Beirut and a master at Marangoni in Milan, she started designing her own line of leggings. Ever since she was a child, Tiara liked two things, photography and fashion. She drew abstract patterns and painted on her jeans. She decided to combine her two passions; the photos she took from a multitude of sources, from music to travel or architecture, were transformed into prints, which in turn made for eclectic leggings.

Fatimahand      clockprint

On Tiara’s initiative, the three ladies set up to open a boutique, combining their visions into one space. The common thread between them was tops, which they felt in line with the times, as people attend fewer receptions requiring formal evening gowns, and go out more to cocktails and soirées pairing sophisticated tops with jeans or skirts. They applied their respective style, working essentially with a tulle basis, a light and transparent fabric, which reveals the body’s sensuality. The name 2626 is for the age at which Tiara started designing, her lucky number and also announces a futuristic vision, timeless design. At 2626, you will find on one side the lacy elegant tops designed by the mother and on the other side the more edgy patchworks or prints of Tiara’s cocktail tops. Large frames hold Tiara’s photographs of a Buddha in Seoul or Lady of Fatima’s hand found in the Chouf mountains. She also transforms her pictures and applies the energetic prints on cosy sofas on display in the boutique. The ladies’ fruitful imagination and intergenerational inspiration make 2626 a unique place for creativity and style.

Talleyrand Building, Burj el Murr
📞: + 961 1 372614

Price: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

Lara Khoury does Man

Lara Khoury introduced her women label in 2010. She has quickly become one of the Lebanese designers to watch and has gained recognition locally and internationally. She is now embarking on a new adventure, launching a Men clothing line.
The designer envisioned her line for the urban Lebanese professional. Fabrics are comfortable yet refined with linen and fine wool from Italy and the United Kingdom, as key ingredients. The formal suit takes on a more casual feel by playing with daring collars distinguished by their cuts and shapes, The collection features costumes, jackets and shirts in subtle hues of black, blues or greens. Pieces are conceived as playful basics that men can pair together or match with their own wardrobe items.
The line’s debut will take place at the Pop Up boutique in Achrafieh, a concept store dedicated to edgy Men accessories and ready-to-wear. Lara Khoury has chosen ten passionate professionals to present her first Spring Summer 2016 collection in lieu of models. From the winemaker, to the architect or the product developer, each of the Lebanese men has been invited to the studio and styled their own look from the collection. The photo-shoot will be presented at the event on Thursday, along with drinks and appetizers. For the men looking for a relaxed yet elegant alternative to the classic suit, this is the place to head.

The Event will be held on Thursday, October 22 from 7 to 10pm
Pop Up
Salim Boustros st, Merehbi bldg, Ground Floor
Achrafieh, Beirut
For more information please call 01 44 34 26

Layover on the Silk Road: The Silk Museum – Bsous

In a garden filled with jasmine, lavender and olive groves, lies a charming Lebanese mansion that was once a flourishing silk manufacture. Now turned into a museum, it is one of the rare testimonies of the blooming age of silk making in Lebanon.

Museum Garden      Museum terrace   

The Emir Fakhr-al-Din, at the end of the 16th century, imported silk production to Mount Lebanon from Italy. Farmers planted white mulberry trees, silkworms’ main food, and women in the house looked after the animals, feeding their ravenous appetites. The silk industry created the first jobs for women outside their homes. They were sought after as they worked longer hours, were paid five times less than men and had slender fingers allowing them to work meticulously with fragile cocoons and thin threads. White and fine threads from Tripoli were used for gold embroidered fabric, the strong silk from Beirut for weaving taffetas, moiré or tapestry, while the Chouf and Kesrouan’s robust and yellowish silk was suited for velvet. The first spinning mill was established by a merchant from Marseilles, Nicolas Portalis, in the village of Btater, using modern techniques.  Silk was the most important industry in the 19th century and a class of rich merchants emerged. Trade from different cities across the region transited through the ports of Saida and Beirut on the way to Ottoman cities, Europe and Africa.

Farmers at work      Magnanery hall

The Bsous Silk manufacture founded in 1890 terminated its activity in 1945. The region was suffering from bad harvests, war and foreign competition’s lower priced synthetic fabrics. In 1966, a couple, Alexandra and George Asseily, fell in love with the land and devoted their energies to bring it back to life. Reopened as a museum in 2001, it testifies of an era when the production and commerce of silk brought wealth to our mountains and seaports. Evening dresses, embroidered bags and tapestry adorned the life of emirs and sheikhs. Along with silk works, traditional techniques and machines the museum presents an exhibit every year. Until November, Silk Fantasy invites us into the world of Italian designers from the 70s to 90s. Gucci, Versace and their contemporaries were the first to draw patterns on silk, with playful cravats, flowery dresses and blouses. Andrea Pfister’s imaginative prints dialogue with the designers’ clothing, along with scarves highlighting artist Ken Scott’s spectacular color combinations. A gem from the past, the museum’s regular exhibits offer perspectives for a fading craft by revealing traditions and techniques from countries along the Silk Road.

 Silk Fantasy exhibit      Silk Fantasy       

The Silk Museum – Bsous – Casa of Aley
Haret el Sett Street
📞: +961 5 940767
Fax: +961 5 942834

Silk Fantasy exhibit ends November 8, 2015. The museum reopens in Spring 2016