ALBA fash­ion stu­dents show avante-garde cre­ations

‘Ar­chi­tec­ture dresses,’ hand­made sweaters on dis­play as de­sign­ers chal­lenge the norm

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mariette Pfis­ter

BEIRUT: Deep bass beats re­ver­ber­ated through­out Sta­tion Beirut Wed­nes­day night as a crowd of well­dressed vis­i­tors waited for the show to start.

Il­lu­mi­nated paths marked the way through dim rooms for mod­els clad in avant-garde style strut­ting down el­e­vated plat­forms, show­cas­ing work by first and sec­ond-year stu­dents from the Academie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts Ecole de Mode.

First-year stu­dents Marie-Gaelle Helou, Mar­i­anne Che­cri, Jackie Beik and Joanne Had­dad were ex­pected to pro­duce three de­signs: a flag skirt, an event shirt and “le corps ex­traor­di­naire” – the ex­tra­or­di­nary body.

And the re­sult? De­signs with de­scrip­tions like Che­cri’s “iri­des­cent over­all with shells and tri­an­gu­lar mauve mask.”

The col­lec­tion of young de­sign­ers looked al­most ex­trater­res­trial, or “as­tro­nau­ti­cal,” as one vis­i­tor, Su­sanne Sch­melter, de­scribed it.

The mod­els were wear­ing eclec­tic geometric head­wear paired with sim­i­larly an­gu­lar out­fits.

The first look, a de­sign by Helou, had been fea­tured on the flyer for the event.

The white over­alls were rem­i­nis­cent of silky sheets in an un­tidy bed, si­mul­ta­ne­ously fluffy and shiny.

“The first-year stu­dents get a pretty fixed plan, while the sec­ondyear stu­dents have more free­dom,” Em­i­lie Du­val, di­rec­tor of Ecole de Mode, told The Daily Star.

She added that while first-year stu­dents were just asked to de­sign spe­cific pieces, sec­ond-year stu­dents were re­spon­si­ble for putting to­gether an en­tire out­fit.

One of the as­sign­ments for the sec­ond-year stu­dents – Ma­bel Sfeir, Yas­mine Issa, Nour Mza­wak, An­drea Chaa­nine and Na­dine Bou Ar­bid – was “la robe ar­chi­tec­ture,” (the ar­chi­tec­ture dress) for which the young de­sign­ers had to de­rive in­spi­ra­tion from a Beirut street of their choos­ing, Chaa­nine ex­plained.

Her de­sign was half cov­ered with a red caro-pat­terned apron, which was not fixed on the model’s shoul­ders, but rather hung down di­ag­o­nally from blue and white strips, ac­ces­sorized with a tun­nel-like cylin­der con­tain­ing blue spi­rals hanging from her arm.

The sec­ond-year de­sign­ers were also tasked with craft­ing big, woolen hand­made sweaters.

While their dresses sported ec­cen­tric non-func­tional el­e­ments like pro­trud­ing spikes and spi­rals, the sweaters more closely re­sem­bled streetwear one might see in a fash­ion­for­ward city – ex­cept for one de­tail: these pieces had to in­clude at­tached hoods cov­er­ing the mod­els’ head from front to back.

Du­vant ad­dressed the aes­thetic of the show, say­ing she ini­tially re­ceived push­back from stu­dents who wanted to de­sign more tra­di­tional, main­stream pieces.

“In the be­gin­ning, the stu­dents com­plained a lot, be­cause they have an idea about fash­ion in their mind, they want to do evening dresses,” Du­vant said. “That’s why we want to break their fixed idea.

“We want to push them to go be­yond their hori­zon. In their third year, they can do what they want,” Du­vant said.

Chaa­nine de­scribed her work as a cre­ative process that has yet to achieve “high art.” But she also said her mother sup­ported her fash­ion stud­ies since child­hood, even en­cour­ag­ing other fam­ily mem­bers to em­brace Chaa­nine’s artis­tic vi­sion. “When I started [de­sign­ing], some of my friends and fam­ily said: ‘What are you do­ing?’

“‘This is not fash­ion.’ But now, [my mom] tells them ‘OK, you will be shocked first, but it’s art.’”

“It was so much work, it was re­ally hec­tic,” Chaa­nine said.

“But when you see the model on the stage, you for­get ev­ery­thing. It’s worth it.”

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