The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Fashion houses raise awareness of breast cancer on runway
BEIRUT: The third edition of the LIPS Management Designers and Brands Show opened with a bang Monday in the glittering ballroom of the Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand Hotel, showcasing the work of both established and up-and-coming Lebanese fashion designers. Beyond the glitz and the glam, the event also had a social mission: held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, profits raised from the shows will go toward fight the disease.
The first of the 2018 event’s 25 shows was Lebanese fashion house Choueiter’s newest collection, worn by models who wove their way across an unorthodox catwalk made of two diamond-shaped runways.
“Opening the show is great, but very challenging at the same time,” Nabil Choueiter said. The collection’s pieces featured wintery colors – black, gold and silver and were based on the idea of the “chic, modern woman,” he added.
Choueiter Haute Couture was founded in 1955, when Lebanese designers Georges and Edward Choueiter opened their first atelier in Beirut. They went on to open two more boutiques, in Riyadh and Paris.
The Designers and Brands project was established in 2009 by LIPS, an events business catering to Lebanon’s fashion industry. LIPS continues to manage the project and also runs other fashion events as well as Lebanon’s largest modeling network. Its CEO, Johnny Fadlallah, works alongside his daughters Samantha, the company’s COO, and Cynthia, its designers’ coordinator and stylist.
When asked about the importance of Beirut hosting such an event, Fadlallah told The Daily Star, “Lebanon was, is and always will be the capital of fashion in the Middle East. We have giants in the field participating.”
Farah Mastoura, from UAEbased online dress hire service Designer 24, which has operated in Lebanon for three years, similarly spoke about the high standards in the Lebanese fashion industry. “Lebanese women are always upto-date when it comes to fashion. That pushes businesses to be up-todate,” she said.
Designer 24, whose models walked the catwalk Monday evening, aims to make luxury designer fashion more accessible by allowing customers to both hire occasion wear and loan their own dresses to the company. Mastoura said: “The aim of our show here is to show people that designer dresses can be accessible to people with all body shapes of all sizes.”
This year, LIPS is also introducing a showroom where designers can present their brand, accompanied by a glamorous reception. More than 80 of them will present clothing, accessories, shoes and much more.
Such aspects of the event enabled up-and-coming Lebanese fashion stars to present their collections alongside more established designers. Dutch model Michelle Wiegman looked regal in a shimmering dress from Rachad Itani’s fall-winter collection. When asked about the development of the fashion industry in Lebanon, she told The Daily Star, “My experience between now and two years ago is that fashion is going more toward Europe. Brands are focusing on a bigger market.”
“For me, the designs are really beautiful I feel like a princess wearing this gown,” she said.
Aya Hammoud, a 22-year-old designer who was showing a collection for the first time, told The Daily Star that she believes fashion is “natural for Lebanese people: We’re born like this.” Her fall-winter collection, Stars in the Night, which will be worn on the catwalk Tuesday at 7:30, features modern, metallic pieces inspired by “shiny objects in the darkness.”
The 2018 edition of the Designers and Brands event is particularly notable, as all profits from dress sales will go to the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation. Maria Farah, one of LIPS’ models, was diagnosed with the disease six months ago, but is now in remission.
Farah’s battle with the disease inspired LIPS to host the “Pink Party” Sunday, in coordination with the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation. More than 20 celebrities, influencers and bloggers walked the runway in a pink-themed fashion show to raise awareness of the disease. Hairstylists from Schwarzkopf are running a Share Your Hair campaign during the event to encourage attendees to donate their hair to create wigs for women fighting cancer.
The LIPS Management Designers and Brands Show will continue each evening from 4-10:30 p.m. until Wednesday, Oct. 10, at the Hilton Beirut Habtoor Grand Hotel.