Everything That Went Down At The Seventh Annual Designers' Week In Beirut

BY Allyson Portee / May 7 2019 / 09:51 AM

BAZAAR chats to all the designers to showcased their collections along Zaitunay Bay

Everything That Went Down At The Seventh Annual Designers' Week In Beirut
Phoxx designer, Najwan Meyassar

Beirut launched its Designer’s Week, the seventh edition of its kind over the weekend in Lebanon, with the support of the Ministry of Environment, and adopted a green mission for this year. The event was hosted in downtown Beirut at Zaitunay Bay’s lower promenade, which attracts thousands of visitors all eager to discover new trends, stroll down the bay, and enjoy the sunny weather at one of the charming outdoor restaurants and cafés.

Started and founded by Sandra Ghattas, the General Manager of Gata Events and Promotions. Her aim this year was to for the event to be green and eco-friendly, and for the designers to be mindful of this with their designs. “Designer’s Week has turned into a remarkable success story and an annual rendezvous that has attracted more than 250,000 visitors, tourists and foreign residents in the past six years,” said Sandra. “And more than 250 up-and-coming Lebanese designers, craftsmen and SMEs across design categories, have paved the way towards local, regional and international fame.”

Nathalie Zeidan Chebaklo, the founder of Lebanese Designer's, which started as a mere page on Instagram and grew into a fully-fledged business, said, “I believe in Lebanon a lot so anything that makes us proud I like to talk about it- fashion art news, influencers, or businessmen, anything”. They promote Lebanese designers and talent on Instagram, at exhibitions at pop ups and on their website. For Design Week, Nathalie and her team rented two tents and they provided the display material to Lebanese artists. “We’re not only about designers, we’re about art- anything with creativity.”

The week kicked off with an official opening ceremony, attended by His Excellency Fadi Jreissati, the Minister of Environment, Sandra Ghattas.

Maggie Baroud Jewellery

“I’ve been in jewellery design for 24 years,” said designer Maggie Baroud. “It was a hobby and turned into a business. I cannot make repetitions in collections. I go a lot to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Dubai. Fashion is always changing from one season to another- the colours and the design. Now that it’s Ramadan, I cannot introduce the same designs that I send to Europe. I have to present what’s happening in the season.” The brand can be found online at Maggiebaroud.com.

95-percent of the 70 emerging designers were women, mostly mothers, had 50,000-plus visitors visiting their booths. One of these mothers is designer Diana Rifai who loves working with denim and mixing fabrics. “My background is in painting first but a love for fashion came. Everything we do is handmade and it has been my passion to combine the chic with the simple,” said Diana. Many of the designers launched their brands and collections for the first time in categories such as fashion, jewelry, furniture, home accessories, bags, shoes, beachwear, and accessories. 

NGO Antami

Some of the designers have a humanitarian approach. The NGO Antami was started by two women that gives proceeds back to poor Lebanese people. The whole brand - named Ghazel el Baneit - was founded with the intention of doing something about poverty in Lebanon. The women that make the clothes are some of Lebanon’s underprivileged women. “We pay for their schooling and their university, and we also have kitchen, providing meals to them.” 

With a strong green mission, Gata Events and Promotions has committed to raising environmental awareness by exclusively resorting to Green marketing channels to promote the event, in addition to making recyclable shopping bags available in every stand during the exhibition. The designers were urged to design environmentally-friendly products.

Linda Farah

Linda Farah, dressed in a colourful dress stressed the importance of versatility. Her designs can be worn at night and during the day. “My fabric is exclusive with lots of African prints, made by a Dutch fabric designer.” 

House of Daje designers

The duo behind House of Daje are full of personality and humor, and they know the importance of accessories for women. “We’re different from other Lebanese jewellery designers because our creations are more edgy with statement earrings for gala events and weddings- special events. We don’t do bracelets, only rings, earrings. And the stones we use are swarrovski stones, and everything is either silver or 18k gold plated.” Every design is made in Lebanon but they have exhibitions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Amman. 

Nadine uses a lot of pearls and stones in her jewellery design for her brand Edeeva by Nadine. “All of our items are 18 karat gold with a range from Dhs294 to Dhs36,724- it depends.” Nadine stumbled into jewelry design. Having studied Economics at university, she designed jewelry from her home for friends, who nudged her to open a shop. She will open a shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and every year she exhibits in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Jordan. 

Phoxx designer, Najwan Meyassar

Phoxx designer, Najwan Meyassar always knew she wanted to be a fashion designer. The designer was living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and she knew it would be handbags that would be her craft. “The only way to express myself was either with shoes or bags, so I chose handbags.” Najwan’s bags are geometric and funky, where you can go from day to night, “Everything is leather, I use a bit of python and some orders are crocodile- but I want to keep the bags young and fresh.” 

Since its launch in 2013, the event has earned the support of the city of Beirut, which has contributed to its staggering success and massive media coverage. The event has turned into a remarkable success story with an annual rendezvous that has attracted visitors, tourists, and expats. The designers have also had the opportunity to get local, regional and international fame.

House of Paisley

The Lebanese duo, who started House of Paisley together, created statement t-shirts and ready-to-wear collections. Their spring/summer 2019 collection is made with cotton denim and other pieces have floral prints with dresses that are free-flowing and perfect for Ramadan. “Our clothes are made with cotton, they are one size fits all and can be worn day or night,” said Noah. “Beirut inspires us a lot. We didn’t live here during the war so when we moved back we connected to our country,” said Rima. With t-shirts that make statements about Lebanon, it draws attention to the country and to Beirut. And there are t-shirts promoting issues like feminism with their “Feminism” t-shirt, written in Arabic, and done in collaboration with the Arab Institute for women. “We also did an environment t-shirt with the Ministry of Environment, making shirts about recycling in organic cotton.”