In the weeks since the blast that occurred at the port of Beirut, the call for aid has reached far and wide as Lebanese creatives stand in stoic support of their country, and do their part to contribute to the ongoing relief efforts. Zuhair Murad, one of Lebanon's foremost designers, launched his 'Rise from the Ashes' initiative in hopes of raising funds through the Beirut-based NGO Offre Joie.
Murad's initiative has become incredibly popular on social media, as several celebrities have joined in and shown support by sporting his initiaitve's tees. From Shakira, JLo and Kourtney Kardashian who recently joined the initiative, to Alessandra Ambrosio and Mohamed Hadid, Murad's initiative has gone viral on social media.
Murad shares with Bazaar the journey of creating and developing the initiative thus far.
Harper's Bazaar Arabia (HBA): How did this initiative come about?
Zuhair Murad (ZM): When the explosion took place, and when I realized just how much damage and suffering it caused my country and its people, I knew I had to do something to help out.
Especially seeing that the Lebanese government still has not done anything to help out. Ironically, it was the Lebanese people who were actively on the ground helping each other, providing each other with basic humanitarian needs, fixing each other’s houses, cleaning the streets, recycling glass, and so on.
Knowing that I have an international reach, I wanted to use my platform and connections to spread awareness about what is happening in the country, as well as to help raise money for it.
HBA: How badly was Zuhair Murad, the atelier in Beirut, and the team affected by the blast?
ZM: The headquarters in Beirut comprised of 10 floors which included the Beirut offices, ateliers, a couture showroom and even a bridal boutique. It had years and years of archives, hard work, happy and sad moments.
My entire life, and all my years of perseverance, were in that building. The building is located right in front of the port and so it is completely damaged. There is absolutely nothing left of it.
Thankfully, the team was not physically affected. They had left the building minutes before the explosion. However, we are all morally and mentally affected. Every time we pass by the building, every time we look at old photos, every time we think about how close we were to being there, how lucky we got while other people were not, we feel extremely down.
What happened is a catastrophe. I don’t know one Lebanese person, whether living in Lebanon or abroad, who is not in pain.
HBA: Why a t-shirt, hoodie, etc. (as the items of clothing chosen are quite affordable and casual, in comparison to some of your collections and other pieces)?
ZM: We wanted to reach a maximum number of donations, and we wanted to encourage people from around the world to do so. We didn’t want to ask people for too much.
And we thought, if people are going to be generous enough to donate, the least we can do is offer them something in return. A tee shirt, or a hoodie, seemed like the option that suits an immense amount of people. We did not want to go into complicated designs. Anyone would wear a tee shirt. Anyone would wear a hoodie. It felt right. It is also a fast option for production under such a short period of time.
HBA: Out of all the charities and organisations supporting Beirut and providing relief, why Offrejoie?
ZM: Offre Joie has been working on Lebanese ground for the longest time. It was founded in 1985, and has developed different methods to confront the continuing challenges of Lebanon.
The organization highly values love, respect, forgiveness and voluntary service. Over the years, I’ve seen it build homes, offer children the childhood they so rightfully deserve, provide Lebanon with humanitarian needs... and so on. It was always present, and therefore seemed like my top choice.
HBA: Can you explain the process of teaming up with the celebrities in order to promote awareness? How was it determined to reach out to specific celebs?
ZM: It is a long process of utilising brand contacts and personal relationship, as well as people who proposed people, friends of celebrities that pushed for the initiative, and so on. I am very happy with the amount of help we have received so far. Everyone has been incredibly supportive of the initiative and in turn, of Lebanon.
HBA: Obviously, many industries have been affected by the blast, but the fashion and creative industries were really hit hard as many ateliers, studios, etc. were in located in the neighborhoods surrounding the port. How do you think this will impact the future of the fashion industry in Lebanon?
ZM: We have lost so much, it has been a hard time for us, especially seeing the financial situation in the country and our money being blocked in the banks. This makes getting back on our feet even harder. However, under God’s will, we will rise again. Lebanon will rise again. We will push, and persevere, to move forward. We owe it to our country, to ourselves, to get back up again. My dream has always been to have and keep Lebanon on the map in the fashion industry. This will not stop me.
To support Murad's initiative and purchase the 'Rise from the Ashes' tee, visit www.represent.com/Beirut.com.
Lead image courtesy of Instagram/zuhairmuradofficial