#NoFilter: An Interview with Designer and Stylist Amine Jreissaty

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Amine Jreissaty Boyfriend fashion brand
Photographed by Jeremy Zaessinger for Savoir Flair

If you’ve been reading Savoir Flair for any length of time, chances are high that you’ve run into one of the astonishing editorials styled by Amine Jreissaty. As one of the region’s most in-demand stylists, we’ve had the pleasure of working with him for the majority of our shoots, which makes him part of the Savoir Flair family – part of the magazine’s very identity, in fact.

His eye for splendid contradictions and vivid details make his work utterly magnetic. Like many gifted creatives, his expertise was born from a childhood fascination with fashion and style, supported in large part by two very cosmopolitan parents. Born and raised in Beirut, Jreissaty came of age just after the city’s reputation as the “Paris of the Middle East” began to dwindle into chaos. Eventually, he and his family were forced to leave their home in Beirut for several years because of the war. They spent time in Brazil and France as a result, which expanded Jreissaty’s cultural horizons at a young age.

His parents also instilled in him an abiding love of stylish clothes. “My parents are the reason I was raised around fashion, fabrics, nice cuts,” shares Jreissaty. “My mom was completely obsessed with Thierry Mugler, and she always wore his designs with beautiful jewelry. She was so elegant, unique, and sharp, but at the same time she was cool – not a stuck-up or severe mom. She just enjoyed beautiful clothes. She would point out all sorts of fashion details to me, so I grew up with this eye for fashion and style because of her.”

Jreissaty’s father also contributed to his growing interest in fashion as a child. “My dad always wanted to open a men’s store when he was younger, but his family forced him to go into the family business instead. So, his perspective when I was growing up was, ‘I’m never going to do to you what my parents did to me.’ That’s why he and my mother were so encouraging of my life and choices. ‘Go and do it,’ he would always say.”

Amine Jreissaty Boyfriend brand first collection
Photo: Courtesy of Boyfriend

With two immensely supportive parents encouraging his dreams, Jreissaty was set up for success early in life, but it would take some time for him to find his destiny. After going back to Lebanon to study business at the American University of Beirut, he completed a Masters in Fashion Design, which was geared toward individuals who did not study fashion as an undergraduate degree.

Therefore, the master’s program was a comprehensive overview of every domain. “We did patternmaking, sewing, drawing, PR, communication, styling – a bit of everything. The idea was for you to have a basic knowledge of every single field that makes fashion what it is.” In 2007, with one master’s degree already on lock, Jreissaty decided to embark on another journey, this time at L’Institut Français de la Mode for a second master’s, specializing in communications.

Even ugliness inspires me.

“I got accepted, but at the same time, I lost both my grandmothers in Beirut within five days, so I had to come back,” he explains. As fate would have it, his return to Beirut led to the step that would ultimately launch his career as a stylist. Hearing of his fashionable background and education, a daughter of a family friend came calling. Marie Claire Arabia was just launching in the region and searching for the right Assistant Fashion Editor for the job. Jreissaty fit the bill.

Given that this was his first job in fashion, he was in for an eye-opening experience. Under the tutelage of Marie Claire’s International Fashion Director Joseph Carle, Jreissaty was given a crash course in styling. In the words of model Liu Wen, whom Carle discovered and helped launch to stardom, Carle was a “judge of talents”.

Clearly, he saw something in Jreissaty and, as Carle’s legendary reputation goes, he wasn’t wrong. The two months that Jreissaty spent with the veteran fashion director would prove to be crucial to his career. “He pushed me so much when it came to mixing different elements together, on daring to do what I had in mind. He was a great inspiration and a teacher,” Jreissaty says.

Amine Jreissaty Boyfriend brand first collection
Photo: Courtesy of Boyfriend

After five years of working at Marie Claire Arabia – first as an Assistant Fashion Editor, then as the head of its fashion department, and finally as the head of fashion and beauty for all its titles – Jreissaty took a leap of faith into the unknown and decided to embark on a new career as a freelance stylist. In May 2012, he left the magazine world for styling, and has never looked back.

During his time at the magazine, he had the good fortune of attending Fashion Week all over the world, and it was at Paris Fashion Week in 2008 that he first met Savoir Flair’s Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Haleh Nia. In his first year of freelancing, Nia offered Jreissaty the opportunity to style for Savoir Flair, but his initial job for our haute couture shoot in July 2012 was disrupted by his father’s tragic death.

Eventually, Jreissaty would come on board as Savoir Flair’s preferred stylist, working exclusively with photographer Jeremy Zaessinger for seasonal shoots like Winter Blooms, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Perfect Fifth. Over the years, Jreissaty has also styled influencers like Dana Hourani, Razane Jammal, Diala Makki, and more. “The best shoots I did in my career are for Savoir Flair,” Jreissaty declares. “Haleh gave me the freedom and trust that no one else ever has.”

I would say that just like my own personality, my shoots are often full of paradoxes.

Typically, stylists are tasked with telling a story for a brand or an editorial concept, which means you’re fulfilling a vision that most likely originated from someone else. However, Jreissaty confesses that regardless of the template, he puts his entire being into every single shoot. A retrospective of the many editorials he has styled reveals a unique angle: he is obsessed with subtle, delightful contrasts. “I would say that just like my own personality, my shoots are often full of paradoxes – a clash of aesthetics, shaped yet unpolished, clean yet messy,” he explains.

“It could be through the hair, the outfits, the makeup, the attitude, or even the context. There must be life in the story I tell, some imperfections that give it a soul. A shoot is a story, and a story with no emotion is simply boring. I get inspired from anything and everything. From the streets, from art, from imperfections, from beauty – even ugliness inspires me.” However, he is quick to acknowledge that the success of translating the story of a brand or magazine is the result of teamwork. “I am not the only one responsible for a great shoot. We all feed each other with ideas, experiences, visions,” he shares.

 

Amine Jreissaty Boyfriend brand first collection
Photo: Courtesy of Boyfriend

In a way, stylists have to be somewhat clairvoyant in order to deliver someone else’s vision, but sometimes doubt can set in. “I sometimes feel that I perfectly see what the client wants, and being able to deliver exactly that makes me the happiest person. But I still experience self-doubt every single day and every single shoot,” he confesses.

In fact, this trait is born out of extreme perfectionist tendencies. “The word ‘obsessive’ would describe me,” Jreissaty shares. It is precisely this fanatical devotion to perfection, order, balance, and attention to detail that has shaped him into the region’s most celebrated stylist. “I think I have a sense of observation that is pretty sharp,” he says wryly. Talk about understatement of the year.

Often, innately talented creatives have trouble processing their success, preferring to jump straight to the next project without so much as a pat on the back. Jreissaty is prey to the same fast-paced way of operating, never reveling in his accomplishments. However, this year brought with it a success so huge and unexpected that he was forced to stop and consider how far he’s come.

It started earlier this year with a glittering, emerald-green bomber jacket that he designed in collaboration with Sarah’s Bag, which was styled with a disco theme. The success of this design was the spark that ignited his career as the designer behind the brand-new “gender invisible” brand Boyfriend. After the collaboration, a concept store approached him to design a capsule for men. “If I am going to create a capsule, I will create a brand,” he thought to himself.

Like a surfer and his wave, I took the wave.

From the seed of an idea to seeing his clothes on the retail shelves of concept store 6:05 in Beirut, Jreissaty worked at lightning speed. His earlier training for his master’s degree prepared him for many of the aspects of designing the initial five-piece capsule. He sketched the collection himself and hunted down the fabrics. He also carried out the sampling, fitting, fine-tuning, and producing, carving the brand’s identity and the lookbook shoot – all of which was done in Beirut.

“I was at the stage where after ten years of styling, I needed a change,” he shares. “It was the right moment, the right time. Like a surfer and his wave, I took the wave.”

Amine Jreissaty Boyfriend brand first collection
Photo: Courtesy of Boyfriend

Boyfriend’s thesis is Minimal and Subliminal. When asked about the meaning of the brand’s tagline, Jreissaty revealed a surprise: “If you look closely at the logo, you will realize that the letter ‘O’ is cut in two different spots, and if you overlay the ‘I’ on the ‘O’, you will realize that it forms the symbol for men and women.” His intuitive desire to provide a gender-invisible line filled with ample cuts and oversized silhouettes is likely what caused the strong response to his first collection. Praised by influencers far and wide on social media, it sold out instantly.

Boyfriend’s main goal is to provide luxurious basics that both men and women could have in their closets. “I wanted to work on volume and cuts that were suitable for both,” he says. This is what he means by “gender invisible”, which is distinctly different from “gender fluid”. Whereas “gender fluid” clothing acknowledges the differences between men and women, “gender invisible” says they do not matter. In fact, Jreissaty sees the sartorial divide between men and women as entirely arbitrary – a forward-minded notion, especially for the Middle East. Jreissaty laughingly says, “It’s about time, no?”

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