Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Bonjour Beirut: Missak HajiAvedikian’s fun take on couture

What happens when you mix, great couture aesthetics, strong heritage influence and a hint of fun together? You get Beirut’s newest  enfant terrible Missak HajiAvedikian.

The minute I entered the Armenian Lebanese designer’s showroom in the middle of the hussly bussly Armenian center I knew I was getting something different, more authentic and candid in a way.

Missak has a great sense of humour which translates even in his most dressy gowns. He does fashion for fun and you can see it through the feathers, unusual bird cage silhouettes and scattered laser-cut butterflies. He is not one to shy away from drama or experiment and this is exactly why I fell in love with his avant-garde designs.

It's obvious when you see Missak's playful creations that he has a
lot of fun making them. I love this dress!!

Don't let Missak's dramatic profile photo fool you... he has a great
sense of humour in person!

Each collection from Missak is based on a theme and it is always connected back to his Armenian heritage. Like many Armenian Lebanese who were born and bred in the country, they still have a strong sense of community and even speak Armenian (a specific dialect) besides Arabic, English and French.

Missak’s designs  first caught my eye when I saw a dress from his debut collection for Starch (the boutique and initiative by Rabih Kayrouz to promote Lebanese designers). The dress was a simple shift with a print of one of my favourite paintings, Archile Gorky’s ‘The Artist and His Mother’. The emotion of the painting was superbly translated on the dress, as worn and modeled by Missak’s sister in the photoshoot which was done in a very candid way, over a traditional Armenian banquet set by his mother. Missak then told me that the mother in the painting looks a lot like his mother, the woman from which he got his passion for making clothes.

The dress featuring Gorky's 'The Artist and his Mother' painting was the first
thing to draw me into Missak's unusual take on design.
I love this dress from 'Age of Innocence' collection which took
took inspiration from one of my favourite movies by Martin Scorsese.

Elegant without overdoing it, this gorgeous dress with tutu-like
tulle skirt screams attitude...

Drama again, this time in the bow sleeves of this pleated corset.

Missak’s more recent collections are not as literally attached to Armenian heritage but he tries to keep at least one related element like the name of each collection for example.

One thing I really like in Missak’s work is that he almost always highlights the waist. Be it with corsets, belts or fitted dresses he’s always empathizing the curves which most Middle Easter women have. But this also is exactly the reason why Missak doesn’t think his ‘style’ and dresses would work in Europe – or Asia for that. America and the Middle East seem like the perfect market for his stunning edgy yet feminine gowns. What do you think? Would this kind of thing work in Asia? Leave your comments below.

I for one, love his quirky, artsy and refreshing approach to couture and would love to see him expand beyond Beirut in the near future.

You can read more about Missak and see his full collections here. Also follow him on facebook here.

Love the structure of this dress...

And it's obvious Missak's love for corsets which he's becoming known
for around the region!

The Swan Lake collection shows Missak's softer side in light shades
and structured but soft look all in all. 

I can't say I love this dress enough!!! The corset lace work is beautiful
and the skirt is so dramatic and fun! Perfect for a fearless bride!
Oh and of course I tried some of Missak's stunning dresses while
I'm at his showroom! This is my favourite!!! I know what I'm
getting next time I'm in Beirut!

Probably the poofy-est dress I've ever worn! Not even my wedding dress ;-)
But I love how cute this dress looks
P.S. Excuse my un-photoshopped and badly-lit photos!!!

This dress would have fit perfectly on a slightly taller and fuller model
(see, being too slim is not always great!) but love the combination of
period costume and modern cut in this dress!