Beirut

Beirut Blast Anniversary: Zuhair Murad Turns the Mesh Covering the Destroyed Buildings into a Couture Dress for Charity

Beirut Blast Anniversary: Zuhair Murad Turns the Mesh Covering the Destroyed Buildings into a Couture Dress for Charity

Zuhair Murad
“For me, Lebanon is the land of eternal hope. To it, I’ll forever be devoted.” Zuhair Murad had said in a love letter to his home country, shared with Vogue Arabia two months before the blast in Beirut in 2020. On the tragedy’s second anniversary, the Lebanese couturier whose atelier was decimated in the explosion has captured this emotion in his latest design. The poignant creation is a dress made entirely of the blue mesh that wrapped most of the destroyed buildings in Beirut, and part of the project #RedressLebanon in collaboration with the affected local news organization AnNahar, and Impact BBDO.
Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad
By transforming the fabric associated with devastation—and which still covers the AnNahar Building to this day—into art, Murad aims to “dress the city in a befitting gown” while supporting the victims of the blast and their families. The initiative #RedressLebanon will be selling 10,452 NFTs of the dress to raise funds for the affected, with all proceeds going to the Institute for Development, Research, Advocacy and Applied Care (IDRAAC), the first NGO dedicated to mental health in Lebanon. The chosen number of NFTs signifies the total surface area of the country in square kilometers. 

According to a statement, Murad has tried to “express joy and hope through the creation of this unique couture dress, with an aim to make it become a symbol of resilience, beauty, and willpower of the Lebanese who are still witnessing atrocity and living under severe economic and social circumstances.” While the dress takes on the designer’s signature glamorous silhouettes, it is cinched at the waist with the newspaper headlines printed on a satin belt which is held together by a sequined red heart. “Until today, I cannot describe the feeling that I had while wandering in the destroyed streets of Beirut, walking from Mar Mikhael to Gemmayzeh,” said Murad. “I saw what was like a ‘horror movie’—the bodies, the wounded, the screaming and wailing, the darkness, and the rubble. I did not recognize Beirut’s roads, or its buildings, this scene will remain in my memory forever.”
Read Next: 13 of Zuhair Murad’s Most Memorable Celebrity Looks

Andrée Acouri, the World’s First Arab Model: “I Was the Master of My Own Decisions”

Andrée Acouri, the World’s First Arab Model: “I Was the Master of My Own Decisions”

Now 80, Andrée Acouri – the first Arab model to walk the international runways–reflects on a remarkable life of glamour, beauty, and (almost) no regrets. 
Andrée Acouri wears gown, Valentino; necklace, stylist’s own. Photographed by Kiki Xue for Vogue Arabia November 2021
Her shoulder-length blonde hair is swept back in waves, accentuating her angular face and almond-shaped eyes. From Rome, where she currently lives, Andrée Acouri smiles wistfully. Now 80 years old, she looks back on her years as the world’s first Arab model.
At a fashion show for Lebanese designer Jacques Cassia in Beirut in the 60s
Acouri’s story begins in 1962, two years after marrying Italian diplomat Italo Livadiotti. “I was not planning on entering the fashion world, despite the fact that my father was a fabric merchant, and I was attracted to materials like lace and guipure,” she recalls. “It all started by chance. I was with my sister-in-law at a restaurant in Switzerland–I vividly remember that I was wearing a Chanel suit–when a well-known designer offered me the chance to model his collection.” Despite her frankly admitting to him her lack of background in modeling, he insisted. His intuition was not wrong. The 1.78m slender young woman confessed that she experienced fear for a moment before entering her first show, but she soon overcame it, mesmerizing the audience. While her husband supported her new career as a model, her father strongly disagreed, and removed himself from her for two years. Much later, she discovered that he used to attend her shows secretly, finally confessing his pride after a show in St. Tropez. “It has been my favorite gift yet,” she says of his support.
Acouri wears trench, shoes, Michael Kors Collection; pants, stylist’s own. Photographed by Kiki Xue for Vogue Arabia November 2021
As a young girl growing up in Beirut, Acouri recalls that her parents separated when she was nine. “At the time, divorce was rare,” she shares. “I was deprived of seeing my mom. My dad sent me to a boarding school. I was a troublemaker to the extreme, not caring about school. I was the master of my decisions, and never liked being told what to do.” Greatly affected by her disconnection from her mother, Violette, Acouri underscores that she inherited beauty and femininity from her mother. She admits that one of the main reasons she chose her career path was to showcase her strong resemblance to her mother.
Andrée Acouri walking in a Dior show in Beirut, 1965
After her first show, one came after another and she became one of the most coveted models for global fashion houses, from Dior to Nina Ricci, Chanel and Saint Laurent. Adored for her charisma and bright nature, Acouri entered the fashion world through the big door and met big names, including Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, and Coco Chanel. “I was like a butterfly on the stage, as if I was flying,” she reminisces. Ricci played an integral role in her career. Acouri did not just model for the brand, but soon became the house’s muse and fitting model for seven years. She continued to work as a model until the age of 35, considered an unusual age for modeling at the time. She also took part in advertorial films with Sylvio Tabet and Rodrigue Dahdah, among others.
Acouri and Georgina Rizk
Riding above and beyond societal restrictions, Acouri launched a modeling school from her home in Beirut. Georgina Rizk was one of the young women who joined the school, and was accompanied since the age of 14. Acouri mentored Georgina Rizk’s pageant journey, from becoming Miss Lebanon in 1970 to Miss Television, Miss Europe, and finally Miss Universe in 1971. She balanced her role as a socialite, mother, and model, proving that women can achieve their dreams. Acouri, who was deprived of her mother’s embrace and affection, had a daughter with her first husband. She describes Paula as her one and only precious treasure. “My daughter is the most beautiful gift in my life. I’m proud of her and her achievements. We are very close,” she says. Acouri’s two favorite compliments are that she is an amazing mother and friend. “Paula accompanied me to the shows until she was nine; people used to call us Caline and Calinette,” Acouri shares, referring to the runway name–Caline–that Sylvio Tabet gave her to use as a model instead of Andrée, which represented her life off-stage.
Acouri with her daughter, Paula
Her career later slowed down after her marriage to her second husband, Bruno Livadiotti. Despite the hustle of life and fame, Acouri faced a painful phase in her life when she was diagnosed with cancer at the peak of her youth, but it did not stop her from loving life–rather, it increased her determination to live in the present, always looking forward. “I decided to live day by day, and always positively,” she says, adding that destiny blessed her despite the suffering. Now, she is full of life and glowing energy, and her eyes still sparkle.
Acouri wears dress, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini; earrings, Jil Sander. Photographed by Kiki Xue for Vogue Arabia November 2021
Today’s fashion does not appeal to the model who witnessed first-hand the work of the design masters of the past. She favors the Saint Laurent suits and Dior dresses of the 60s, and loves classic pieces–her current favorite brand is Armani. As a glamorous woman and an expert in fashion, she declares, “Today’s models are so skinny. They do not smile and walk without presence. This is sad. They must walk and turn their heads gracefully with an elegant smile beaming through.” Acouri believes that the ideal woman is always beautiful, elegant, and feminine, as she freely controls her life with independence. She then dedicates a message to herself: keep going and never look back. “I do not regret the past. What I regret is that I’m no longer in my twenties to walk for Elie Saab and Armani.” Yet one decision that Acouri regrets is that she had to decline novelist Auguste Le Breton when he offered her a role in the project Rififi. She yielded to her husband’s refusal for participation in the project, which still saddens her.
Acouri wears trench, shoes, Michael Kors Collection. Photographed by Kiki Xue for Vogue Arabia November 2021
Acouri will always remain the first Arab model and an icon of Lebanon’s golden age. “I do not know if this era will one day return,” she says. “The 60s were wonderful and prosperous, and we were fast-forwarding in fashion. In those days, I traveled a lot, and every time I came back to Lebanon, I told myself that we had nothing to envy the west for.
Acouri wears gown, shoes, Valentino; necklace, stylist’s own. Photographed by Kiki Xue for Vogue Arabia November 2021
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Originally published in the November 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia
Style: Michele BagnaraHair: Alessandro Rebecchi at Green Apple ItalyMakeup: Mary Cesardi at Julian Watson AgencyProduction: Interlude ProjectPhotography assistant: Viatceslav SenkevicStyle assistant: Rujana Cantoni

Inside the Harithand Fall 2021 Collection Everyone Wants to Wear

Inside the Harithand Fall 2021 Collection Everyone Wants to Wear

Photo: Courtesy of Harithand
Lebanese designer behind Harithand, Harith Hashim expresses that for Fall 2021, he wanted to create something easy-to-wear in keeping with the brand’s fluid identity, but even more light with a sense of liberty and romance. Suiting and dresses take on elongated shapes, there is no nostalgia here, rather hope grounded in earthy hues. Hashim, who recently dressed actor Angelina Jolie, reflects on lessons and inspirations from Beirut and the new strides the brand is taking.
Angelina Jolie wears Harithand Fall 2021. Photo: Getty
Like everyone in Beirut, you experienced deep trauma from the blast. Were you able to rest and take some time for yourself this summer?
It was a very hard year for all of us, losing my house, the office, many garments—everything. To top it off, the economic crisis and the revolution, all together, it felt like a never-ending nightmare. We didn’t have the option to rest. We launched our online website, we had to fulfill clients’ orders on time. This was a way to escape reality and focus on work. Being a creative director in Lebanon, at these times, is definitely hard work. We have to keep the same exact level and standards. The situation is not ideal, but I always remain optimistic, and I believe the beautiful days of Beirut are coming back.
With the collection preparations and between photoshoots, I haven’t really gotten much time for myself. Even with all this, I feel that I finally get to express myself in my designs with complete freedom, without the fear of ”not being suitable” for the market. Today, my designs really reflect how I see the world and how I envision the everyday woman.
Photo: Courtesy of Harithand
What changes have you made to your production following August?
We recently moved into a new atelier, a beautiful traditional Lebanese space in Gemmayze, where we produced most of the collection. The good news, which I am very excited about, is that we are producing some speci­c garments in Milan, working with the best local craftsmanship. For the ­first time in our brand history, we have begun creating denim pants and belts sourced from premium leather and made in Italy. It’s defi­nitely an exciting venture for us.
Photo: Courtesy of Harithand
What inspires you today?
I am inspired by people’s drive to live and enjoy life again, this passion is giving me inspiration to design and work for a better tomorrow. To me, Beirut creates diamonds—the amount of pressure around you drives you to succeed. I ­find it as my way of escaping reality and this collection to me means a lot as it reflects the romance and beauty that Beirut needs to return to. The chaos and beauty of this country drives my inspiration!
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5 Things to Know About Zuhair Murad’s Dazzling Fall 2021 Couture Collection

5 Things to Know About Zuhair Murad’s Dazzling Fall 2021 Couture Collection

Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad
Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad‘s fall 2021 couture collection is an expression of unapologetic splendor. After year of lockdowns, staying indoors, and the absence of social events, the collection of evening gowns is a heartfelt tribute to cities and cultures of bravery.
Here, five things you must know about Zuhair Murad’s fall 2021 couture collection.

The collection is an ode to the designer and his hometown’s resilience
Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad
Murad’s atelier, an archive worth 20 years of work, was shattered in the August 4 Beirut port explosion last year amid the pandemic weighing down the fashion industry. The collection pays a tribute to the perseverance entrenched in his country’s culture. Working on his couture line made Murad feel happy and alive, despite the hurdles 2020 brought.
The collection’s muse is the city of Venice
Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad
Murad looked to the Serenissima, another city of resilience that has suffered invasions and diseases but has re-emerged every time. From “fourreau” capes borrowing from Italian artist Vittore Carpaccio’s paintings to scoop necks and puffed cap sleeves inspired by the Venetian Carnival, the collection is wrapped in historical references of the City of Doges. The embroidery takes from stained glass windows and Murano chandeliers in Venetian architecture.
The collection combines gigantic volume with thin silhouettes
Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad
The gowns’ silver and gold crystal fringe, along with draped ballooning taffeta capes, juxtapose enormous proportions and slender silhouettes.
The collection’s color palette draws from tones of precious jewels
Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad
Pieces further down the line had a palette of deep black offset with tones of emerald, ruby, and sapphire, and winding embroidered numbers shimmering in diamonds.
The collection revisits Renaissance outfits
Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad
The combinations of crystal garlands, long dresses of patrician hostesses, and oriental princess kaftans represent Renaissance-inspired chiffon, taffeta, faille and metallic organza outfits. However, silver lurex and shoulders and curves revealed through slits and asymmetries bring a modern note.
Read Next: 5 Things to Know about Elie Saab’s Blossoming Fall 2021-22 Couture Collection

Lebanese Designer Hussein Bazaza’s New Collection Explores Predation in Human Lives

Lebanese Designer Hussein Bazaza’s New Collection Explores Predation in Human Lives

Photo: Courtesy of Hussein Bazaza
Lebanese designer Hussein Bazaza has unveiled his powerful new collection exploring the relation between social human behavior and predation. Through the aptly named collection Predation, Bazaza weaves a story of the dynamic between a predator dominating its prey, the aspects of which are present in all of our lives, such as our relationships, careers, cultures, and more.
Photo: Courtesy of Bazaza
Far from the expected, the collection is brought into existence to “break all fashion rules and stomp societal standards,” and does not conform in typical seasonal trends. The seasonless collection grows and evolves from its first look to its grand finale through different stages, or better yet, labels, each tagged under a “specific unconventional topic.”
Photo: Courtesy of Bazaza
In a mind-bending 210-second video production featuring a fascinatingly eery basement hideout with flashing fluorescent lights, a mysterious model sports some of the Beirut-born artist’s prêt-à-porter pieces from the thirty-strong collection. Savage and untamed, she struts around within hypnotically repetitive short clips in hot pink, neon lime and hot red colors popping out in a sea of black and nude. Inspired by “the hypocrisy in today’s world,” a tale of human predators and prey comes to show, as the short film directed by Samir Seriani takes you on a turbulent mental journey exploring everything you have ever been “silenced from saying” or even thinking of.

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Adopting the mighty force of nature, animal and floral patterns have an impactful and vigorous presence in every piece of the collection. Each composition is tailored in diverse fabrics, be it mesh, wool, leather, tulle, or intricate lace. Contrasting gowns gathered in long shimmering beads exude sensuality, accompanied by various eye-catching accessories and three unique bags, spoiling you for choice.
Photo: Courtesy of Bazaza
The stunning collection fully embraces Bazaza’s ravishing signature sartorial style and mood-lifting color blocking techniques, geometric cuts and the designer’s admitted personal favorite: lace collages. The brand’s experimental introduction of three-dimensional embossed petal-like motifs turbocharges the new line, with touches of the branded logo touches along each piece.
Read Next: Lebanese Designers Zuhair Murad, Elie Saab, and More to Hold Shows at Upcoming Paris Couture Week

Krikor Jabotian Unveils Brooch Collection Inspired By Lebanese Women in Support of Non-Profit Beit El Baraka

Krikor Jabotian Unveils Brooch Collection Inspired By Lebanese Women in Support of Non-Profit Beit El Baraka

Photo: Courtesy of Krikor Jabotian
Lebanese bridal fashion atelier Krikor Jabotian, in collaboration with non-profit charity organization Beit el Baraka, has launched its new campaign “Flower of Glory” to run throughout the month of June. The collection is made up of seven limited edition brooches created by Lebanese artisans, and all proceeds generated will go to Beit el Baraka, who are dedicated to keeping destitute communities in Lebanon afloat by providing them access to food, medical services and education.
Photo: Courtesy of Krikor Jabotian
Over the past two years, up to two million Lebanese people have found themselves in crippling poverty after the worst socio-economic crisis since 1920 hit the nation. The Lebanese currency’s soaring inflation rate, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the August 2020 Beirut blast – one of the most powerful non-nuclear explosions in history – have compounded Lebanon’s unprecedented financial and economic collapse.

Lebanese women, the nurturers, fighters, and mentors who let Lebanese communities blossom and persevere despite grave hardships, inspire the seven delicate brooches named Anahid, Layla, Sabah, Salwa, Therese, Varteni, and Victorine.
Together, the brooches create an exquisite bouquet of brass and pearl, each with its own one-off unique design, exemplifying the exquisite artistry of traditional Lebanese craftsmanship.
Photo: Courtesy of Krikor Jabotian
The most moving part of the campaign is a three-minute clip featuring three old Lebanese ladies fondly reminiscing their love for fashion, whether it be dressing up or sewing clothes from scratch for their loved ones, and their love for their country, Lebanon.
Creative Director and Lebanese fashion designer Jabotian says that he has a great sense of gratitude and respect for Beit el Baraka’s mission and vision. “It has been a devastating year for Lebanon, and this is the atelier’s humble way of giving back. We remain ready and willing to support one another, in hopes that one day every Lebanese can lead a dignified life. Hand in hand, we hope to make a significant step towards realizing this dream,” he added.
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Exclusive: Rula Galayini’s Latest Collection Pays Tribute to Lebanon with a New Brand Logo

Exclusive: Rula Galayini’s Latest Collection Pays Tribute to Lebanon with a New Brand Logo

Photo: Courtesy of Rula Galayini
Lebanese designer Rula Galayini’s latest collection titled Romancing Tomorrow is an ode to her country’s resilient spirit and people. The spring/summer handbag collection sees the launch of a new brand logo — an embossed R protruding from the bag’s metallic base. The newly revamped logo is Galayini’s love letter to Lebanon, embodying a phoenix rising from the ashes alongside a revolutionary sentiment. It speaks of resilience, the determination to rebuild, and the pursuit of making things right.
Vogue Arabia spoke to the designer about the thought process behind the newly refurbished logo and the new pieces.
Photo: Courtesy of Rula Galayini
Why was it important for you to introduce the new brand logo after such a trying year?
The past year had been a great, unprecedented opportunity to sit back and reflect on things – both on a professional and personal level. It was the time to reflect on my purpose as a mother, as a creator, and above all as an individual.
Ten years ago when I created Rula Galayini, the purpose was twofold: firstly to support local artisans who were being threatened by the influx of the mass-produced, and secondly to highlight, represent and export a piece of beauty from my region, so often victim to much negative stereotype.
Looking back at all that my country has recently been through and what my people are struggling with today, I wanted the brand’s raison d’etre to be as loud as ever.
Photo: Courtesy of Rula Galayini
How did the blasts in Beirut affect your creativity and production?
Firstly, the blast happened right in the heart of Beirut’s creative community. Our workshops, factories, and many of our artisans’ homes sustained major damage if they were not completely destroyed. Furthermore, our logistics facility is located at the port itself so it literally crumbled to the ground, causing a major setup back to our international logistics operation.
And this is not to speak of the emotional damage caused. I remember reading a statement released on August 4 that read, “We’re all dead today. If it didn’t kill our bodies, it killed our hearts.” Nothing summed the sentiment better. The moment, I heard the news, I remember stumbling to call my parents, my inlaws, my friends to make sure they were alive. Never mind if their homes were destroyed, their memories buried. That all seemed trivial at the time.
And then, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for having been abroad.  For having escaped the horror. For having the privilege to live in a non-toxic environment. For being able to actually live as opposed to just exist.
But then buried under a few weeks of disbelief, shock, bitterness, and helplessness, I uncovered a renewed sense of purpose.
Photo: Courtesy of Rula Galayini
Talk us through the creative process behind designing the new pieces. 
Rula Galayini bags have typically had very discrete branding. Our aspiration was to create a strong aesthetic identity without the use of names, but rather through a visual language that became iconic to the brand.
When designing the new logo, I wanted to remain true to that. But since there lies heavy symbolism in this season’s story, having one letterform was key in kickstarting that conversation. The ‘R’ is highly stylized in a matter that is reminiscent of contemporary architecture, which is an infinite source of inspiration. Then came the notion of what the ideal material and finishing would be ideal. Ultimately, brass was chosen in a rich gold-plated coating. The base of the plaque is lackluster but then a glossy gold ‘R’ protrudes through as though to insinuate brighter days ahead.
Since we design for a diversity of markets, we wanted to ensure the specificity of our story resonated well on a global level. The last year has been a challenging, eye-opening year for all. Whether people restructured their priorities and lifestyles, there is an unprecedented sense of mindfulness that now consumed us as. And this is, no doubt, one of the silver linings that happened to us. To that end, we wanted our new pieces to facilitate a sense of control in today’s unpredictable world. Secondly, women are buying smarter so our new pieces are timeless and versatile to cover as many walks of life as possible.
Photo: Courtesy of Rula Galayini
What’s next for Rula Galayini the brand?
India has been the latest market for us to land in. We are really happy about that as we had noticed a growing popularity of our products among the young, fashion-forward Indian tourists visiting Dubai.
We’re also focusing more of our efforts on growing our e-commerce outreach and offering as well as creating a meaningful sense of community amongst our customers and fans.
We have also recently opened a B2B line of business where we provide retail consultancy services to both regional and international fashion and beauty brands, who inspire to create meaningful experiences.
Read Next: How Rula Galayini’s SS20 Collection is a Tribute to Working Mothers

You Can Now Shop Lebanese Ready-to-Wear Brand Boyfriend Online

You Can Now Shop Lebanese Ready-to-Wear Brand Boyfriend Online

After a tumultuous year in Lebanon, Beirut-based brand Boyfriend is powering through into 2021 with the launch of its very own e-shop. On this occasion, the ready-to-wear label has also launched a poignant new collection, which is exclusively revealed to Vogue Arabia by designer Amine Jreissati. The word sajeen, meaning prisoner, is at the core […]
The post You Can Now Shop Lebanese Ready-to-Wear Brand Boyfriend Online appeared first on Vogue Arabia.

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