Haute Beirut: Lebanon Reinvents Itself As A Fashion Destination


 Stephan Rabimov

“Live. Love. Lebanon.” This is a bold tourism motto for a visionary nation tucked into the most volatile corner of the Mediterranean. Lebanese sense of style has been forged by centuries of cultural exchanges between the Arab, Hellenic, Roman, Ottoman and Western civilizations. Now its designers engage in fashion diplomacy to reposition the country at the economic crossroads of the region. There is a particular affinity between the fashion world and Lebanon. Once dubbed the “Paris of the Middle East,” its capital city Beirut possesses a rich heritage of French influences in architecture, cuisine and lifestyle. The bustling Hamra Street with sidewalk cafés, boutiques and theaters is a vital social artery of the nation much like Champs Elysées. Lebanese fashion is experiencing a major moment on the world’s runways. Let’s take a look at its brightest stars.

Backstage At Rami Kadi Couture Spring-Summer 2019 Show “Éternité Éphemère”

Backstage At Rami Kadi Couture Spring-Summer 2019 Show “Éternité Éphemère”


In Beirut, fashion is dominated by the Haute Couture ethos and aesthetics. The Middle Eastern sartorial convention is widely defined by elaborate beauty and extravagance of intricate details which translate into status: the ultimate form of luxury. This is why Lebanese designers feel at home at Paris Fashion Week. For example, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad are revered veterans of the iconic catwalk. Last season, couturier Tony Ward, who had worked at Dior, Lanvin and Chloe, joined their ranks with a well-received collection for his eponymous label. Lebanese brand Rami Kadi, which counts Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez as fans, rocks the elite nightlife scene with its glitzy creations. Another must-know name is Azzi & Osta whose femme-meets-futurism pieces have looked equally amazing on Cardi B and Queen Rania of Jordan. Most recently Sandra Oh wore them in promos for her historic Saturday Night Live appearance.

The Sleeping Buddha, AZZI & OSTA Spring-Summer 2019 Couture Presentation, Hôtel De Crillon, Paris, France

The Sleeping Buddha, AZZI & OSTA Spring-Summer 2019 Couture Presentation, Hôtel De Crillon, Paris, France


If Hollywood is another indicator of the It-ness factor, then Lebanese designers are hot, hot, hot! During the latest film awards season, Julia Roberts donned a custom one-shoulder Elie Saab gown for her appearance presenting the Oscar for Best Picture. Actresses Krysten Ritter and Angela Bassett stunned in Reem Acra gowns. Molly Sims dazzled in a sequined gown by Zuhair Murad, and Meagan Good shined in a lilac dress from Georges Chakra’s spring collection.

Dania Shams in Krikor Jabotian design.

Dania Shams in Krikor Jabotian design.


“Lebanese designers are known to be red carpet designers, but we also have a progressive scene with new designers in the Ready-To-Wear, breaking norms and creating something really different,” says womenswear designer Krikor Jabotian who has just won the inaugural $200,000 prize from Fashion Trust Arabia.

The prestigious honor confirms Lebanon’s potential as the style capital of the region.

A garment by Tarek Sinno

A garment by Tarek Sinno


As geopolitical tides keep turning, the local fashion scene adapts to accommodate growing interest in affordable streetstyle. The creative energy is palpable in Beirut, yet many local designers lament that the path to international consumers is fret with unique obstacles. Access to high-quality materials and secure manufacturing are prevalent issues. Neighboring wars take a major toll on funding and infrastructure, often turning away foreign capital.

“Government support could help the fashion industry on so many fronts,” says Jabotian. “One of the biggest challenges as a fashion designer in Lebanon is the constant political uneasiness that affects our day-to-day business. Political and economic stability alone would empower organizations to thrive on the most basic level, and job creation opportunities in the fashion industry would be massive.”

“Fashion design in Lebanon is on another level,” says Lana El Sahely, fashion writer and founder of L’Armoire De Lana blog with a third of a million Instagram followers.

Lana El Sahely, fashion writer and founder of L’Armoire De Lana blog with 300K+ Instagram followers.

Lana El Sahely, fashion writer and founder of L’Armoire De Lana blog with 300K+ Instagram followers.


“Dubai is a platform for designers to grow economically, but I feel like Lebanon is truly the creative hub,”said Sahely.

However, at the moment, Beirut is missing a key feature of an emerging fashion market… “It’s a shame that Lebanese designers don’t come together to make a real fashion week in Beirut,” says Reem Kachmar, Lebanese bridalwear couturier.

“For this season’s bridal 2019 collection, Reem Kachmar applied delicate floral embroidery and hand sewn lace on illusion style dresses for a graceful, romantic and contemporary bride.”


Without an established platform, Lebanon struggles to keep its domestic talent from shifting focus elsewhere. Many flee abroad to jumpstart careers. A fashion week could be the solution to offer talent a change to prove itself and garner international media attention.

Beyond logistics, navigating the complex religious landscape of the region is an ever-present challenge.

“Forget about questions of taste. It’s improving with time, but obstacles like religion and tradition prevent us from being like other fashion capitals,” says couturier Jean Louis Sabaji.

"For this season's bridal 2019 collection, Reem Kachmar applied delicate floral embroidery and hand sewn lace on illusion style dresses for a graceful, romantic and contemporary bride."Backstage at Jean Louis Sabaji runway show.

Backstage at Jean Louis Sabaji runway show.


While some designers are reluctant to address ancient norms, others believe fashion could be the key to starting a different type of dialogue on the age-old issues. “Fashion is something that is truly shared,” says Reem Kachmar. “Women and men all over the world fantasize about it. It’s an international language that people love. It has the power to bring cultures together!”

The Couture Bride by Elie Saab design


A good sign for the future is the growing prevalence of fashion education in the country. The young aspiring designers have more choices and chances to learn from diverse global faculty and stay on top of latest trends. ESMOD Beirut, the pillar of Lebanese fashion industry, is adding new courses to keep up with the times. The Lebanese American University offers its own competitive BA in Fashion Design. The international success of local designers brings awareness to this fashion haven. A local proverb claims a person with one plan gets it done while a person with two plans gets confused. The common goal of the Lebanese design community and its diaspora is clear: put Beirut firmly on the world’s fashion map.

Additional reporting by Leen Lakkis.

The Couture Bride by Elie Saab design





31 responses to “Haute Beirut: Lebanon Reinvents Itself As A Fashion Destination”

  1. Kris Welter Avatar
    Kris Welter

    YUCK!!!!!!!!! That is NOT “fashion”….it’s disgusting and treats women as objects instead of people….
    Cover yourselves, ladies, if you want your man to RESPECT you! Women who dress like that should be in the Red Light district of Amsterdam, not walking down the streets of the Middle East.

    1. Arzna Avatar

      These are not for wearing when you go shopping in the Tehran bazar nor in the Red Light district of Amsterdam . Lebanese designers are amongst the most famous in the world as red carpet designers. Top names in Hollywood are dressed by Lebanese fashion designers. This is a totally different world than the one you seem to be familiar with.

    1. Dumbyad got so scared of Lebanese gays she fled to Montreal in order to pursue a career in cashing ’em Rothschild-financed welfare checks.

      Time to go back to your native village to fight all this mattress (and carpet) muncher filth!! 🙂

      1. Hind Abyad Avatar
        Hind Abyad

        More Proof Six Million is a Lie | 6 million fairy tale

        1900 New York Times: 6,000,000 living arguments in favour of ZionismNYT. 1902 New … 1910 New York Times: 6,000,000 Jews in Russia in a sad plight NYT.

        1. “..humm.. tortured by hate? Sorry no sympathy ;-(”

          You are so clinically stupid and hopelessly illiterate that I doubt you really understand most of what other people write. Not sure you can even figure out the drivel from Nazi sites you link to. I bet you go straight to the pictures. 🙂

          1. Niemals Avatar

            No she can’t even figure out the drivel from all the Nazi sites she is linking to.
            The best one have many pictures.


          2. Niemals Avatar

            “Ron please block (link: https://twitter.com/Antwort) twitter.com/Antwort” – wow,
            suffering from persecution syndrome….

            What happened to niemals

          3. Hind Abyad Avatar
            Hind Abyad

            What happened to Niemals? You blocked me.. have many old accounts dating from 2008 2910. Your only hobby.

            You are blocked from following @niemals and viewing @niemals’s Tweets.” Bye

          4. Niemals Avatar

            “There’s always that magical 6 million figure…” ????
            After attending a military parade in Moscow commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, the Israeli leader warned that seven decades after the Holocaust, “there is a country in the Middle East, Iran, which calls for the destruction of another 6 million Jews.”

  2. Niemals Avatar

    @Meditteraces:disqus, you are definitively suffering of persecution syndrome.
    This tweeter account “@Antwort” is a new chapter in your stupid and hopelessly illiterate behavior.
    Despite having 23 followers it have have no tweets. ????
    You are begging your soulmate Ron Hughes (identically stupid); “Ron please block (link: https://twitter.com/Antwort) twitter.com/Antwort”
    @Antwort has not tweeted yet. If someone tweets, the tweets appear here.

    1. Hind Abyad Avatar
      Hind Abyad

      Well parasite, while i blocked @Antwort, you were nowhere on YaLibnan…!

  3. Hind Abyad Avatar
    Hind Abyad

    Lebanon “couturiers” are definitely almost there.


    1. Hind Abyad Avatar
      Hind Abyad

      “The video promotes the colonial theft of Palestinian cuisine, culture,
      history, and geography. The viewer is told that there is “good shawarma”
      all over Israel, and the Dead Sea becomes Israeli in an Orientalist
      playground, as Lucy is sitting on a camel covered in colorful cloths.”

      1. What about the colonial – and shameless, I must add – theft of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars?

        1. Hind Abyad Avatar
          Hind Abyad

          The only thieving Canada are the likes of Bnei’Brith & CO.

          1. Too bad they also stole your prescription meds.

          2. Hind Abyad Avatar
            Hind Abyad

            I have no prescription for aspirin

          3. The only treatment you need is a kick on the a$$ and out of the civilized world. No prescription needed for this.

    2. One if the good things about Israel is that you’ll never set foot in it. 🙂

        1. Hind Abyad Avatar
          Hind Abyad

          aicWe know thist, there were no states in the 40thies, there were no difference between Jordanians, Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese, they were in Canaan (Mesopotamia). Same history, culture, food Dabkeh same music poetry, literature, same Semitic Aramaic blood.

      1. Hind Abyad Avatar
        Hind Abyad

        I did set foot in Jerusalem, Palestine.

        1. How did you get the cash for the ticket? Wow, the Canadian welfare state is generous. 🙂

  4. Hind Abyad Avatar
    Hind Abyad

    I wonder who’s responsible
    “NGO offers Lebanon taste of lionfish in effort to contain invasive species”


  5. Wow, this blog is eye-opening! Lebanon's Haute Couture scene is seriously making waves, and I'm here for it. The way Beirut is reinventing itself as a fashion hub is amazing. The blend of culture and style is so evident, especially when it comes to those stunning wedding dresses. They've got this unique charm that's hard to find anywhere else. Can't wait to see more from Lebanon's fashion scene! 

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