Showing posts with label beirut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beirut. Show all posts

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Fashion Forward Dubai: 5 Middle East designers to look out for

I’ll admit. It’s probably the only time I miss being in Dubai, even though I lived there for many years before moving to Singapore, I've never really had any feel for the place.

That was before the Fashion Forward event, which took place recently and could be the first step towards nurturing a real fashion scene in the desert

When people complain to me about the ‘lack’ of a proper fashion scene in Singapore, I always tell them to compare it to Dubai, where there is hardly anything interesting fashion-wise. The first vintage shop in the country opened only a couple of  years back while the concept of ‘local’ and ‘independent’ designers was non-existent bar for a handful of individuals who introduced this idea not too long ago.

But when I learned about Fashion Forward happening in Dubai, I breathed a sigh of relief that perhaps the city has finally started celebrating the young talent and giving them a proper platform and the exposure they deserve.

A beautiful dress from Lebanese designer Dina JSR at Dubai FF

And as usual, Michael Cinco brings the drama to the catwalk...
And oh how I wanted to be there for the Starch Foundation show! I'm
especially in love with the work of Celine Der Torrosian of AZADE like
this cool outfit which I want to get my hands on!!!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Bonjour Beirut: Falamank does vintage, modern and antique jewellery like no one else…

As someone with eclectic taste in fashion, I rarely make big definitive statements about my style. But here is one which I’m sure will be true for a long long time to come: if I had to choose only one jeweller to wear their pieces for the rest of my life, it has to be fellow Lebanese designer Tarfa Itani of Falamank.

I hear you ask what about my love for antique jewellery? Well, the best part is that Tarfa makes her own designs AND picks some amazing antique jewellery from around the world to sell or even transform into statement pieces without undermining or ruining their appeal.

I was first introduced to Tarfa’s work just over two years ago on my wedding day, when my fashionista extraordinaire cousin gifted me a delicate gold and diamond bracelet, featuring a flying dove. I instantly fell in love with it as it was something I would pick for myself and naturally I decided to find out more about this Beirut-based label and catch up with the designer for this blog.

An exceptional pendant from Falamank's Mosaic collection...  
'Omri' ring: Arabic for 'My life' as in 'sweetheart', how sweet is that?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Bonjour Beirut: Johnny Farah's fabulous bags!

My husband has always joked that no matter where he went in the world, there would be four things – Chinese, Indians, a Lebanese businessman and an Irish pub!

While it is understandable why people from the two most populated nations on earth would exist everywhere, the Lebanese one has always puzzled him. That was until he met me and came with me back home to understand more of our unique culture.

Most of my co-nationals will write prose about the natural beauty, the weather, the food and the party scene which Lebanon enjoys but for me, nothing makes me more proud than seeing some truly unique people making it everywhere in the world while keeping a distinct character about them.

Johnny Farah is one of those people. And although I only found about him on my latest visit back home, believe it or not, he’s been around in the industry at least a decade before Elie Saab and enjoyed the company of greats such as Andy Warhol while living in NY in the 70s!

Johnny Farah's collaboration with artist Ranya Srakbi has produced some to-die-for bags
which live up to the label's chic identity but adds on a stunning twist!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Bonjour Beirut: Sarah's Bag 2013 collection

If you're a regular reader of this blog then you probably know by now that if I'm a big fan of one designer or label, I'm not shy to shout out loud about it. Not just once, but twice and a dozen times if I feel it deserves to.

And this is specifically why I'm posting again about my favourite Lebanese label Sarah's Bag who not just only makes gorgeous clutches and accessories but does that for a good cause as well.

I think I've already said enough about how much I admire Sarah's Bag and its founder and creative director Sarah Beydoun so you can read all about her mission and how she started the label in this previous post.

But today, I just wanted to share with you some of the snaps I took in the label's gorgeous Beirut showroom housed in a French colonial building in the city's historic Rue du Liban (Lebanon street).

I'm in love with this stunning leather clutch and its zips details! Amazing how Sarah's Bag
has been evolving its designs to come up with such creative and chic pieces as well as
crafty ones.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Bought in Beirut: MMM for H&M shoes at 90% off!!!

Being the fashion fanatic that I am, finding a great bargain makes my day!

So imagine when this bargain is the plexi heels I’ve been coveting from H&M’s most recent collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela. And I’m not talking half price here; yup I finally snagged me a pair for 10% of its original price!

This is no fake imitation I’m talking about. It’s the real deal which luckily for me, happens to be on clearance sale at H&M branch in Downtown Beirut, Lebanon.

Sometimes waiting does pay off ;-) These MMM for H&M wedges
cost me 10% of the original price! Talk about a great bargain!!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Bonjour Beirut: Nadine Mneimneh - ditching couture for contemporary fashion

Coming back to Beirut, I always set up myself to meet the new generation of Lebanese designers who are following in the footsteps of their predecessors of glamour and couture.

So it doesn’t surprise me when people like Missak HajiAvedikian, Azzi and Osta who have interned at Elie Saab decide to do couture and focus on cocktail and evening wear, what Lebanese designers are increasingly getting known for, not just locally but on an international celebrity and red carpet level.

The surprise is, when I came home this time, I visited Nadine Mneimneh at her atelier, who unlike her co-nationals has decided to take a totally different direction and focus on contemporary everyday wear.

Unlike a lot of Lebanese designers, Nadine has ditched evening couture
for contemporary fashion.

The recent collection uses material like Linen to create comfortably elegant looks.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Bonjour Xmas: Seven stylish gift ideas for the woman in your life

With less than a week to Christmas Day, time is definitely too short to go out and aimlessly look for gifts for the special woman in your life. 

So if you’ve left your Christmas shopping to the last minute (as most people do), fret not as I’m on hand to help whether your budget is S$15 or S$500.

The great thing about my guide is that each gift is something I would own and thus comes with the Bonjour Singapore seal of style approval. More importantly, every single present idea in this list helps to support and grow the Singapore and Asian fashion ecosystem.  

And for those of you who are feeling lazy (and who are quick on the draw) you can also order most of these gifts online. So you can be super-stylish and awesome from the comfort of your desk or lying in bed at midnight.

Singapore label Foreword's necklace makes a great Christmas gift
for any fashionista!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Bahareh Badiei brings Middle Eastern chic to Singapore

Middle Eastern women are some of the most glamorous in the world.

You might not believe that if you watch too much of the news but it’s really true. Just walk down any street in Beirut or Tehran and you’ll see women dressed up from head to toe, perfectly made up even if just to visit the neighbours or the grocery shop.

I think it’s something in our DNA, or maybe in the culture which puts so much importance on looking elegant and chic. Pretty much all of our designers do ballgowns and flipflops are nowhere to be seen unless you happen to be at the beach (even then there is a fair share of heels and bikinis).

So when I received an invite to a show by Bahareh Badiei, a Singapore-based Iranian designer, I naturally expected one thing – glamour!

Bahareh Badiei, Singapore based Iranian designer
Designer Bahareh Badiei (in the middle) with the models at the cozy presentation at Novus
Restaurant in the National Museum.

Bahareh Badiei's first collection in Singapore
All photos by Kenneth Choo (
Thank you Kenneth :-)

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bonjour Beirut: Bling with Style at Cream Boutique

For the past couple of months, I’ve been highlighting some of the new Lebanese designers who have drifted away from the bling and taken a whole different and more understated approach to fashion, even couture. But that doesn't mean Beirut bling is dead!

Just step into one of the super hip boutiques around downtown and Saifi village (where my dream apartment would be one day!) and you’ll probably need to keep your shades on. Neon, crystals and gold everywhere from accessories to clothing – only it is more on the funky side than tacky.

One of the coolest shops around is Cream – a place for those who are not afraid to stand out and want something bold, trendy and a little quirky. Best of all, most of the stocks are by Lebanese brands who have taken in the footsteps of other successful labels like Sarah’s Bag and started producing cool accessories even if not with the same level of sophistication.

Bling bling everywhere... Cream is full of everything fun and colourful!

Love the location in Saifi Village in downtown Beirut!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Bonjour Beirut: Malaika Najem’s Unconventional, Raw and Beautiful Jewellery

If you ask anyone the words you’re least likely to hear when discussing fashion in Beirut – ‘raw’ or ‘urban’ will be top of the list.

For such a gritty environment (and Beirut often defines the concept of raw) there is an almost escapist obsession with being refined and polished. Quite often to an extreme.

Even away from the fashion scene you’ll find architecture that involves plastering new facades over historical buildings and the famous Lebanese look (never leave the house without makeup, bling or a blow dry, what surgery can I do this year...)

Yep, Lebanese people are known for their seeking of what they see as aesthetic perfection. And its no wonder Kim Kardashian is such a hit over there.

Raw, ethnic and intruiging... Malaika's work is not your average
style of jewellery, especially not in Lebanon!

 You can multiply that by 1 million when it comes to fashion - just look at the breakout labels that come from Beirut. Nothing but glamour in the form of Elie Saab, Zuhaair Murad and Basil Soda.

So when I stumbled upon Malaika Najem’s work, the epitomy of raw and unfinished, I was more than a little surprised.

Malaika is a jewellery designer whose work is all about the core rather than the perfectly polished exterior. she definitely is a breath of fresh air in a country stifled by a narrow fashion perspective.

The beautiful and charming Malaika, bringing some depth to the overly
polished fashion scene in Beirut.

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!!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bonjour Beirut: Mira Hayek's year round summer fun

One of the best things about living in Singapore (although I’m sure plenty will disagree) is the fact that it’s pretty much summer all year round.

And that means one thing. Summery clothes 365 days a year too!

I’m talking vibrant colours, colour blocking galore and generally embracing that wonderful mood you have when the sun is shining and life is good.

Mira Hayek Lotus dress
Mira Hayek's dresses are anything but dull

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Bonjour Beirut: Sarah’s Bag combines cool with a cause

Every fashion brand longs to have at least three things. A coveted line that achieves cult status quickly, celebrity endorsement and a back story that gives people a reason to talk about the brand.

So when you hit all three effortlessly, you know you’re doing something right.

And that’s where Sarah’s Bag comes in. This is an accessories label that is little known outside of the Middle East, but something of a phenomena inside it.

I personally love them, and whenever I go out in Singapore sporting a Sarah’s Bag I get asked about it. So while they might be anonymous over in Asia, it’s going to become my mission to change that.

Sarah's Bag handbags
Gorgeous hand-made creations from Sarah's Bag...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Bonjour Beirut: Azzi and Osta and the battle against bling!

If the national dress in Singapore is hotpants and t-shirt, Beirut’s is a ball gown!

It’s a nation where one popular saying is ‘borrow money to dress up’, seeing someone dressed up to the nines just to cross the road to the grocery shop is not an uncommon sight. In some places you have to see it to believe your eyes!

It’s no surprise that there are dozens of designers specializing in evening wear and glamorous dresses. From  Elie Saab, to Rabih Kayrouz and Georges Chakra.

While some designers go seriously OTT and bling it like there is no tomorrow, others, namely the new generation, have stuck to a much more modern and stylish approach to glamour – understated elegance.

The perfect example of such designers and probably the forerunners for such style are Georges Azzi and Assaad Osta, whose label Azzi & Osta is gaining popularity and changing people’s views on what is glamorous in Beirut.

A breath-taking bridal creation from Azzi and Osta

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Bonjour Beirut: Dina Khalifé’s playful silk prints

Note: this is the first of 8 posts on Lebanese designers and cool emerging labels I met/discovered on my trip back home. Knowing there are so many talents in Beirut I couldn’t reach while living abroad, was behind my inspiration to explore the emerging designers in what has quickly become my second home, Singapore.

I hope you enjoy this series and can see that regardless where you are in the world, there are some amazing talents out there who deserve to be known everywhere else. So keep reading and join me on this part of my journey which is very dear to my heart.

Dina Khalifé

Dina Khalifé's vibrant prints are just so charming!

Who knew that in my recent visit back home, I would find out that one of my dear university friends has recently launched a fashion label?

Dina was my classmate at university majoring in Graphic Design, and always had a thing for doodling and illustration. It seems she has finally found a way to bring her cute illustrations to life, through silk scarves, separates and enamel accessories.