Six Lebanese brands – Emergency Room Beirut, Azzi & Osta, Roni Helou, Boyfriend the Brand, Hussein Bazaza, and L’Atelier Nawbar – showcased their work through Milano Fashion Week’s digital platform, exclusively as part of Sara Maino’s ‘Spotlight on Lebanese Designers’ initiative.
This initiative was launched by Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana in an effort to support Lebanese creatives as a gesture of solidarity for the citizens of Beirut, who were affected by the explosion in the port of Lebanon’s capital on August 4, 2020.
Emergency Room Beirut
Emergency Room Beirut presented a mini movie titled ‘Not a Fashion Movie.’ The brand’s presentation features members from the brand’s extended family as well as new figures sharing their experiences and personal stories in French, English, and Arabic in an abandoned clothing factory in the neighborhood of Bourj Hammoud. The presentation explores different themes such as death, body image, harassment, hopelessness, and immigration.
“I’m angry but I am unable to yell.” “The subject of the year is to survive.” “I thought it was the end; I’m not okay.” “I don’t want to rebuild the house, I do not want to be phoenix.” These are some of the most captivating, raw, and heart-breaking moments shared in Emergency Room Beirut’s video. “The words expressed by these people who come from different paths of life are a testimony of the year 2020 as experienced by the residents of Beirut,” says Eric Mathieu Ritter, the founder and designer behind Emergency Room Beirut.
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– Short Movie presented during Milan Fashion Week on 27.09.20 – Featuring: @hodaziade @mohamed.zrk @joelleabouelnasr @zeddaminn @tsigereda_brihanu @asinjustandrea @cherrychills_ @myriamboulos @greedy_ears @iamsashaelijah – Produced by @theclinicstudios Directed by @ivakc Music by @rommepouge Editing by @duniakc & @alex_chahine Sound by @joy_moughanni Production @nadiadeghayli & @sluffy13 Location @unionmarks – #ThisIsAnEmergency
Azzi & Osta
George Azzi and Assaad Osta, the duo behind the modern haute couture brand Azzi & Osta, starred in their brand’s Milan Fashion Week digital presentation, celebrating their 10-year anniversary. Inspired by the early age of couture, the duo explained that the brand draws its inspiration from history, particularly the history of art.
Azzi & Osta, which is best known for its use of color, embroidery, and distinct incorporation of different volumes, also happen to be a sustainable brand. It does not use real fur, feathers, or animal skin. The designers also repurpose fabric and embroidery, aiming to minimize excess waste. Clearly, Azzi & Osta’s attention to detail extends far beyond the realm of fashion to consider all angles of fashion and its impact on the world.
Roni Helou debuted his ‘RH2021’ collection during the brand’s digital MFW presentation. The ‘RH2021’ collection called attention to the global crisis of water pollution, particularly in Lebanon. The presentation follows wandering youths on their journey to discover the damages and consequences of water pollution on Lebanese lands.
The ‘RH2021’ collection is juxtaposed against different settings of suffering lakes and riversides, aiming to highlight the burdens of sewage systems and other contaminants where rates of diseases such as cancer in local communities have increased. “Rivers are no longer able to adequately support their aquatic inhabitants, transforming what is naturally a source of life into an agent of illness and death,” Helou explains.
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🍂 Wandering youths journey around Lebanon in #RH2021 discovering the consequences of water pollution on our country. Video created for this year’s digital Milano Fashion Week #MFW. —— Thank you to the amazing team and cast for this unforgettable day last winter 💚 @carla.jl.daher @mantahray @yxngbass @alysaab @atassikarim @ghiyahaidar @ahmadaabdullatif @milanfashionweek
Boyfriend the Brand
Amine Jreissati, the founder and creative director behind Boyfriend the Brand, starred in the exclusive video that debuted on the Milan Fashion Week digital platform with visible injuries in the wake of the Beirut explosion.
Boyfriend the Brand is known for its minimal silhouettes, subliminal details, and “gender invisible” nature, and is composed of pieces found in men and women’s closets. The brand serves as a styling course where each piece can be reinterpreted and worn in different ways. Boyfriend is different “because it targets everyone, no matter your gender, age, and size,” Jreissati explains. He continues, “and most importantly, it brought back to people the importance of ‘basic’.”
On the Milan Fashion Week digital platform, Hussein Bazaza debuted his ‘NH4NO3 // SS 21’ collection, which highlights the vast range of chaotic emotions many Lebanese have felt after the devastating explosion. The exclusive presentation explores different emotions such as fear, panic, anxiety, confusion, and even happiness, highlighting what many Lebanese people may be feeling right now. The collection mainly consists of ‘outerwear’, portraying the need to protect oneself against danger. Bazaza explains that he was not inspired to create pieces fit for a warm summer as 2020 has been a cold year for many in the emotional sense.
Exploring various personal emotions, the presentation shows a woman dressed in contrasting looks ranging from romantic to grunge, depicting the juxtaposition of “our real life.” The presentation ends with a noise every Lebanese will never forget, highlighting the trauma many will continue to endure for years to come.
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THIS SEASON’S COLLECTION IS ALL ABOUT THE CHAOTIC RANGE OF EMOTIONS ENDURED RIGHT AFTER A TRAUMATIC EVENT TAKES PLACE. IN OUR TRAGIC CASE, IT WAS THE DEVASTATING EXPLOSIVE BLAST THAT OCCURRED ON THE 4TH OF AUGUST IN BEIRUT, LEBANON. JUMPING FROM FEAR, PANIC, ANXIETY, HATE, LOVE, HAPPINESS, LOSS, CONFUSION AND SO MANY OTHER MIXED FEELINGS, THE MOST DOMINANT OF ALL IS ALWAYS DENIAL AND ITS UNBROKEN PRESENCE THROUGHOUT EVERY EMOTION FELT. SADLY, TO DENY EVERY SENTIMENT SENSED IS TO DENY ONE’S MENTAL STATE AND EVENTUALLY HAVING AN EMOTIONAL ROUTINE OF PURE REJECTION DAY AFTER DAY. SS21 AIMS TO REPRESENT WHAT EVERY LEBANESE IS UNFORTUNATELY GOING THROUGH ON THE DAILY. OUR SS21 FASHION FILM, DIRECTED BY NONE OTHER THAN SAMIR SIRYANI, TELLS THE STORY OF ZEINA, A YOUNG WOMAN AUDITIONING FOR A ROLE, CONFUSED AND FOGGED WHEN ASKED TO TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT HERSELF. FROZEN, EMBARRASSED, DISORIENTED AND INTIMIDATED, WITH NO KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT TO SAY. DENIAL HAS LED HER TO BECOME UNKOWN EVEN TO HERSELF, UNABLE TO EXPRESS ANYTHING. THE PICTURE CUTS TO SPEEDY SCENES OF DIFFERENT EMOTIONS BURSTING THROUGH HER. SHE IS DRESSED CONTRASTINGLY IN EVERY SET, FROM GRUNGY MASCULINE LOOKS IN HER MOMENTS OF STRENGTH, TO AIRY ROMANTIC PIECES WHEN SHE SEEMS AT PEACE, BUT ALWAYS IN DENIAL, DEPICTING THE JUXTAPOSITION AND CONTRAST OF OUR REAL LIVES. THE SHORT MOVIE ENDS WITH HER BACK IN THE CASTING CALL. SHE IS ASKED ONCE MORE TO TELL US ANYTHING. ONLY TO HAVE HER RESPOND WITH A NOISE WE CAN NEVER FORGET. THE DESIGNER WAS NOT INSPIRED TO CREATE LIGHT PIECES FIT FOR A WARM SUMMER. IN THE EMOTIONAL SENSE, 2020 HAS BEEN A COLD YEAR. THUS, THE LABEL HAD TO CREATE OUTWERWEAR FOR MOST OF THE LOOKS TO PORTRAY THE NEED FOR MORE COVERUPS AGAINST THE COLD, AND AGAINST DANGER FOR PROTECTION. @samirsyriani @zenafarhat #bazaza #mfw
The sisters behind L’Atelier Nawbar are fourth-generation jewelers who specialize in handcrafted wearable luxury. The brand is one which celebrates beauty and difference. In line with the brand’s values, a clip of the Lebanese revolution was featured, highlighting the importance of freedom of expression. Reminiscing on what was and what is to come, the brand highlighted the beautiful landscape of Lebanese lands, recalling ‘better days.’
You can find the Spotlight on Lebanese Designers digital Milan Fashion Week platform here.