Bet­ter for Wear Rabih Kay­rouz cre­ates a launch­ing pad for his country’s emerg­ing ta­lent

Bespoke - - FASHION SHOOT -

Le­banon might be the fash­ion cap­i­tal of the Mid­dle East but be­fore the Starch Foun­da­tion came into ex­is­tence in 2008, the spot­light was be­ing hogged by Elie Saab, Zuhair Mu­rad and Rabih Kay­rouz. Younger, up-and-com­ing de­sign­ers were just not get­ting a chance in a cre­ative in­dus­try of cuthroat com­pe­ti­tion. “I re­alised that, for al­most ten years, there were hardly any de­sign­ers emerg­ing from Le­banon, and I won­dered why that was,” says Rabih Kay­rouz. “The an­swer seemed to be that new de­sign­ers didn’t have any sup­port. Grad­u­ates from all over the world face dif­fi­cul­ties upon leav­ing univer­sity but in Europe, they have the means of find­ing help. Here, they had no idea how to get started and that’s why I de­cided, with Tala Ha­j­jar [his PR and mar­ket­ing man­ager at the time] that some­thing needed to be done.” So, Ha­j­jar and Kay­rouz founded the Starch Foun­da­tion, as a com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing emerg­ing ta­lent. They then con­vinced the Beirut Cen­tral District real es­tate de­vel­op­ment com­pany, Solid­ere, to of­fer their NGO a head­quar­ters in the heart of the cap­i­tal. And ever since, they have been tak­ing on four to six young de­sign­ers a year and work­ing with them through the full busi­ness cy­cle, from the de­sign process to the cat­walk show, to press, mar­ket­ing and fi­nally re­tail, with a year-long ten­ure at their show­room. With now-es­tab­lished names like Krikor Jabo­tian, Hus­sein Bazaza,timi Hayek, Bashar As­saf and Rayya Mor­cos, just a few of the many ready-to-wear de­sign­ers who have come through their ranks, Starch’s suc­cess has been re­mark­able.

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