Elisa Sednaoui. Serge Najjar. Alessandro Michele. Johanne Issa. Juergen Teller. Karen Chekerdjian. Kamal Kassar
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The Identity Issue
FRONT / 48 Who’s Who / 50 Editorial Introduction The inspiration behind this issue / 52 Contributors A brief selection / 58 Who are you? Lebanese designers, artists
and creatives on what identity means to them / 70 The Edit What’s on our radar this
summer / 90 Objects of Desire Shoes, bags, sunglasses and more / 108 In The Studio
with Ryan Houssari / 120 Dossier I Where you sit on the gender identity scale / 124 Dossier II How cinema treats and mistreats our fashion icons / 132 Trends Looks,
ideas, accessories / 142 Dossier III How fashion and identity are inextricably linked / 146 Muse Trends inspired by the late Bill Cunningham / 158 Subject In conversation
with Nour al Nimer / 162 Dossier IV Gucci under Alessandro Michele / 168 Dossier V
In the Milan workshops of Buccellati / FASHION / 178 Altered States Elisa Sednaoui by Laura Sciacovelli styled by Amelianna Loiacono / 198 Concrete Jungle Hanne Linhares by Arved Colvin-Smith styled by Katie Felstead / 212 After Everyone’s Gone Kate P by Cristina Coral styled by Amelianna Loiacono / 238 Through the Looking Glass
Photography by Tony Elieh / 248 Tear It Up Karolina by Raya Farhat styled by Mélanie
Dagher / BEAUTY / 264 Perfume, Powder & Paint Photography by Raya Farhat /
270 11 Make-up Rules That Work for the Stars Charlotte Tilbury shares her secrets /
272 Like Father Like Daughter Reena Hammer talks family, work and Urban Retreat /
FEATURES / 274 Not What You See, But How You See It Meet Lebanese photographer and Instagram sensation Serge Najjar / 284 Rediscovering the Lost Voices of Arabic
Music Kamal Kassar, Mustafa Said and the AMAR Foundation / 292 Good Dreams, Bad Dreams Curator Massimiliano Gioni on his new show at the Aïshti Foundation / 304
Sci-Fi Wahabi Sophia Al-Maria at the Whitney / 308 All About the Girl Female artists
at Tate Modern’s new Switch House / 312 Mirror, Mirror Architects and their clients /
320 Simulacra An artistic vision by Johanne Issa / 328 Of Exquisite Taste Stimulating
your senses and your style / OPINIONS / 346 On Food Dalia Dogmoch Soubra on zaatar
chicken / 347 Where We’re Eating / 348 On Drink Michael Karam on wine, whisky
and identity / 350 Where We’re Drinking / 352 On Happiness Lucille Howe on DOGA
/ 354 On Travel Ramsay Short on travelling over tourism / 356 Where We’re Staying / THE END / 358 Capturing The Self How Lebanon’s best photographers see themselves
/ 364 The Last Page with... Juergen Teller
On the Cover Ever-changing, alternating between elegant and refined, playful and dramatic, model, actress, director and philanthropist Elisa Sednaoui takes it
all on. Shot in London by the brilliantly
creative Laura Sciacovelli, Elisa channels artist Cindy Sherman for our cover
shoot, taking on different characters,
wearing different masks, playing with the idea of identity. Elisa’s look is by
Prada / Styling by Amelianna Loiacono
/ Hair by Shiori Takahashi / Make-up by Jo Frost
Elisa Sednaoui. Serge Najjar. Alessandro Michele. Johanne Issa. Juergen Teller. Karen Chekerdjian. Kamal Kassar
no.84 Aug/Sep 2016 LL10,000
A WAVE OF GRACE An exclusive set of earrings with white and yellow diamonds surrounding a deep blue heart-shaped sapphire.
Downtown • Sassine • Aishti By The Sea | 01 981 555
People/Style/Culture/Art Publisher Tony Salamé Group TSG SAL
Editorial Director Ramsay Short
Creative Director Mélanie Dagher
Senior Art and Production Director Maria Maalouf Junior Art Director Sarah Ashley Mrad Associate Editor Rayane Abou Jaoude
Coordinating Editor Stéphanie Nakhlé Assistant Editor Léa Christine Rahme 48
Digital Editor Raseel Hadjian
In House Fashion Photographer Raya Farhat Senior Photographic Editor Fadi Maalouf Contributing Writers Grace Banks
Dalia Dogmoch Soubra Felix El Hage
Goufrane Mansour Anna Murphy
Marwan Naaman Alexei Perry Cox Natalie Shooter Pip Usher
Fashion Photographers Arved Colvin-Smith Cristina Coral Tony Elieh
Feature Photographers Myriam Boulos Johanne Issa Serge Najjar
Sergio Ramazzotti Tanya Traboulsi
Guillaume Ziccarelli Stylists
Advertising Director Melhem Moussallem Advertising Manager Stephanie Missirian
Chief Marketing Director Karine Abou Arraj Printing Dots: The Art of Printing
Responsible Director Nasser Bitar
Margaret Stepien 140 El Moutrane St., Fourth Floor, Downtown Beirut, Lebanon tel. +961.1.974.444 aishtiblog.com
My Twitter profile reads “Writer/Journo/Editor/Traveller/DJ/Activist/Spaceman” – I posted it sometime ago when I first took to Twitter but it’s still how I define myself online. Thinking about this issue’s theme of identity it struck me that the majority of us in today’s social media world use similar descriptive expressions related to what we do, mostly our job and/or pastimes. For example, “accountant/foodie/cyclist,” or “mother/swimmer/fashionista.” Why? Why don’t we define ourselves by our personal ideals, the goals we strive for, or any of the principles that govern our behaviour like “freedom/equality/justice,” for example? Instead of thinking of ourselves as pursuing ideals, or striving for excellence – quite a pre-20th century way of looking at the world – we classify ourselves into groups: “photographer/Arsenal fan/skier.” In other words, we are not what we wish to be, only what we already are. “I’m a writer” – well, yes I write for a living. “I am a DJ” – indeed, I like to play music and make people dance. We’re data for sociologists and statisticians, and we’re a dream come true for brands and advertisers because it means we’re easier to sell things to. I think of myself as a writer so I must use a far more expensive Apple computer over a PC by another brand, which may provide the same function but is not marketed towards me and does not have the same associated perceptions that I like to see in myself and want others to see in me. The same applies to fashion – I am DJ, so a certain brand of overpriced sneaker is the one I think I should buy; and those super-expensive headphones will tell everyone I am a brilliant DJ. But if I defined myself as a man pursuing ideals, or an ideal, virtue say, then it would be extremely difficult for me to be persuaded to purchase said sneakers or headphones. Issue 84 of A Mag does not tackle these questions. Or rather it does, indirectly. Issue 84 of A Mag explores notions of identity through the people we meet, the artists, musicians, architects, designers, chefs and photographers; through fashion and travel and gender and art and film and creativity; through portraits and self-portraits. Issue 84 of A Mag gives you beautiful things and talented people. What you take from it and them is up to you… Ramsay Short @ramsayshort
Sergio Ramazzotti Photographer Born in Milan in 1965, Sergio is an internationally recognised Italian photojournalist and documentarymaker with numerous stories behind him for some of the world’s leading publications as well as photobooks for London’s Thames & Hudson and Paris’s Éditions du Chêne. His photography has taken him to various conflict zones, including Afghanistan, and has seen him profiled in the Sky Arte television series Fotografi about Italian photojournalists. Check out his incredibly detailed shoot of the Buccellati jewelry workshops and family on page 168.
Laura Sciacovelli Photographer Renowned Italian photographer Laura Sciacovelli studied at the Speos Paris Photographic Institute where she soon discovered Polaroid film and rapidly developed an interest in portraiture, and in photographing the ‘iconic woman.’ She began shooting model and actress, Elisa Sednaoui, our cover star and feature model this issue, when the latter was only 16 years old. Often inspired by Southern Italy’s rich history and natural light, her work has been featured in numerous publications, and she currently divides her time between London and Rome.
Tanya Traboulsi Photographer Austrian-Lebanese photographer Tanya, who shoots our opening series of Lebanese creatives this issue, originally obtained a diploma in fashion design before picking up a camera. Her talents have earned her accolades worldwide, and her photography has been featured in numerous publications and exhibitions in Beirut, Dubai, Vienna, Bogota among others. In 2013 she was awarded The Boghossian Foundation Prize for photography. Her work revolves around themes of identity, particularly female identity, memory and belonging.
Michael Welton Writer American writer Michael Welton’s work focuses on architecture, art and design. His writing has appeared in numerous international newspapers, magazines and journals, and he writes and edits Architects + Artisans, an online design magazine dedicated to thoughtful design for a sustainable world. His book Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand, published in 2015, centres on architects who draw by hand and features the freehand drawing styles of 26 architects. This issue he investigates how some of the world’s top architects go about fulfilling their clients’ briefs and how identity plays a huge role in their process.
Tony Elieh Photographer Tony is a Lebanese photographer who taught himself to take pictures before joining Dar al-Mussawir, a photography space offering training programs, equipment, exhibitions and lectures on the field. He mostly shoots landscapes, cityscapes and waterscapes, merging reality and fiction in his work, citing Beirut’s ever-changing mood and facades as his inspiration. Tony is also the co-founder and bassist of Lebanese post-punk band Scrambled Eggs.
WHO ARE YOU?
Identity – it resides in our name, gender, work, family, religion, bank balance… but often these are not enough. As the eastern proverb goes, why do we try to bite our teeth with our teeth? Why do we always try to define our beings further? Probably because identity is not a category of being but a continuously-changing position we take in relation to experience – which is why we dress a certain way, get tattoos, colour our nails or get piercings. We feel ourselves intuitively, emotionally and so it is easier to communicate ourselves, our sense of being, visually. To put these feelings into words is hard – there is a wide gap between being and explaining. Here, we view ten Lebanese creatives (and their visual identities), as seen through the lens of artistic and documentary photographer Tanya Traboulsi and listen as they attempt to describe what identity means to them Portraits by Tanya Traboulsi
Words & Interviews by Rayane Abou Jaoude
KARIM CHAYA Product designer
Beirut-born designer Chaya studied Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, and went on to co-found Abillama Chaya Industrial Design in 1997. ACID specializes in design, manufacturing and installation of architectural detailing and industrial and furniture design projects. He also founded SpockDesign, a studio focusing on furniture design, in 2001. Chaya’s works have gained worldwide recognition and he has showcased his products both inside and outside Lebanon. Who are you? A curious earthling.
How do you define identity? I don’t! It is very bad for one’s wellbeing to dabble with identities and whatnot.
Does where you live in Lebanon affect your identity? Yes, I am probably as ubiquitous. What is freedom? I don’t know yet.
On the object The Citroën DS is, in my eyes, one of the most beautiful objects ever designed by humans. It is heavily inspired by nature, drawing from both the animal world and the laws of physics. A little known fact is that the shape of the DS came from blocks of ice placed in a windtunnel and shaped by wind from the turbines as they melted, hence the rain-drop shape. Its lines are what seduce me most, but I also appreciate the approach that the creators took while developing it, namely, to forget about what exists and has been made to date, and start with the open mind of a child or an alien if you prefer.
MARWAN RECHMAOUI Visual artist
Marwan Rechmaoui studied sculpture and painting at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. His work has mostly focused on urban development and history. In 1993, he cofounded Ashkal Alwan, an association promoting and producing contemporary art in Lebanon. His 2004 work, Beirut Caoutchouc, a large, black rubber mat taking the shape of Beirut’s map, was widely acclaimed. Its aim was to explore the divisions within the city and their effect on identity and affiliation. How do you define identity?
My identity is who I am. Our identity is what aims and goals we share and thrive for. Does what you wear identify you?
I choose what to wear so that reflects my mood and character,
which also reflects on my conduct in public, but that’s one aspect of my identity. Does where you live in Lebanon affect your identity?
The answer has two parts: one, Beirut and Lebanon are not exactly the same thing. I choose to live in Beirut. I drive around Lebanon frequently but I’m a Beirut-dweller. Two, sure the place where I live affects my identity. I was born here and grew up here and was fully absorbed in local issues and the daily routine. In my case I chose to live in Beirut because it looks like me. On the object
I chose to be photographed next to the blue sea. It’s a source of inspiration and reflection, while a book is something I always carry on me.
Designer/founder of Rosa Maria Jewelry and Rosa Maria Concept Store Rosy Abourousâ€™ jewelry is available in Lebanon and across the globe. Her collections are carried at numerous concept stores and her creations of silver, gold, zinc, and copper are paired with a wide range of precious stones. Abourous also launched her own concept store five years ago, which carries curated selections of many international designer pieces. How do you define identity? Identity is living your life according to your beliefs and personality without any compromise. In a nation of sects, religions, families and politics can you truly be an individual? I believe that the whole world is made of sects, religions, families and politics. The whole system is built on it and it will not be
soon that we will see any changes. Anyone can be an individual, anyone is an individual. The only thing that matters is how much you reinforce it, how much you differentiate yourself, cultivate and build your own opinion. Lebanon has never stopped any great minds and there are so many names that I could list. Does what you wear identify you? Everything you do identifies you. So yes, what I wear identifies my art, my expression and the message I need to give.
On the object I made these objects in tribute to the first rings that I designed. Structure has always been essential for me; making larger versions of my original designs was the very best way to demonstrate it. I always keep these pieces nearby, not only as a good luck charm, but also to remember the first steps of my designs.
KAREN CHEKERDJIAN Designer
Karen Chekerdjian began her career in film and design with advertising agency Leo Burnett in Beirut, later moving to Italy to study industrial design. She moved back to Beirut in 2001 and founded her studio, producing custom-made furniture and everyday objects, and ultimately opening a showroom in 2010. This summer she had a signature exhibition at the Institut de Monde Arabe in Paris.
Does what you wear identify you? What I wear most definitely identifies who I am. My choices are clear, characterised, and strong. They have always been so since the day I was free to dress myself. As my dress sense evolved, so did I from within and it reflects totally who I am. In Lebanon can you truly be an individual? Being an individual in Lebanon should not be confined to family, or by religion, sects, or politics. You have to have the strength and power to be free in your thoughts. You can still be who you want to be. For me, it’s not even questionable, because I know who I am, and I can truly and proudly be an individual.
How does what you do affect who you are? What I do is part of who I am, and who I am is the reason I do what I do. What I do as a designer affects who I am. For me, design is more than just a trend. For me design is saying who I am through meaning and that of the imprint I leave behind. What is freedom? For me, freedom is more the freedom of thought than that of action. Freedom of thought is already an immense leap to freedom. And to have the ability to implement freedom is a journey.
On the object The object Hands On is not my identity solely, as my identity bears many layers of Beirut, my city and my individuality. It is an object that represents everything that I am trying to say, shaped by my own hands. It’s a genuine reflection of who I am, as it’s my hand and my way of illustrating in a non-design way to design the less obvious. For me Hands On is a symbolic way of imprinting who I am and how I wish to leave my design DNA or imprint behind.
NABIL GHOLAM Architect
Gholam’s eponymous practice has gained fame worldwide for projects such as the Doha Souks and the Almost Invisible Project in Bodrum, Turkey. Gholam himself has studied and worked in France, the United States, China, and Spain. He set up his own office in Beirut in 1994 and a European office in 2006, and has since assembled a team of architects, designers, and planners who regularly win the business international recognition. In a nation of sects, religions, families and politics can you truly be an individual? Absolutely, more so in being at the fringes and embracing what matters to me.
Do you see yourself as Lebanese and what does being Lebanese mean to you? Yes. It means being part of a place and culture that spans continents and millennia beyond the country itself. How does what you do affect who you are? Who I am affects what I do.
On the object Light allows us to discern what is around us. The quality of light in a space defines that space, its changing nature through the days and the seasons defines the passage of time. Quoting American architect Louis Kahn: “Architecture appears for the first time when the sunlight hits a wall. The sunlight did not know what it was before it hit a wall.”
Director of Lebanon’s Tourism Office in Paris Serge Akl left Lebanon for France at the height of the Lebanese Civil War in 1983, then studied international relations and economic development at Florida International University in the US before becoming the Director of Lebanon’s Office of Tourism in Paris in 2000. He has since been working on promoting Lebanon’s image in Europe, including launching 35mm from Beirut, a professional guide and website endorsing Lebanon’s filmmaking aptitudes. He has additionally served on the executive committee of Photomed Lebanon, a photography festival showcasing the works of up-andcoming and professional photographers.
Do you see yourself as Lebanese and what does being Lebanese mean to you? Of course. Lebanon is my native land. When my parents decided to leave it during the Civil War, I was eleven. There were no goodbyes to friends or family, and no returns home for the next 14 years. I lived this “separation” with my homeland as a real trauma, and my desire to return and live the life I was taken away from was unfaltering. I believe my need to serve the promotion of
Lebanon in terms of culture and tourism is one of the symptoms of the passion this country inspires me.
Does what you wear identify you? What I wear identifies who I want to be at a given time, not who I am. How does what you do affect who you are? What I do affects how I feel, not who I am. I thus try to do things that will keep me happy.
On the object It’s a “Keep Lebanon Close to Your Heart” pin by Hala Tayah Jewels. No object defines me, but this one comes close. It is shaped like Lebanon, the country I love and promote. Also, the French think it’s Corsica, and I get to correct them by telling them it’s Lebanon. When I run into Lebanese politicians, public servants, party members, or community leaders, I am amused by their puzzled looks as they furtively examine the pin. I believe most of them wonder what political party it is associated with. It also keeps Lebanon close to my heart.
NICOLAS AUDI Chef
Nicolas Audi’s name has become synonymous with exquisite cuisine. Audi kicked off his career as an interior architect, but his love for Lebanese and Mediterranean gastronomy ultimately caught up with him. He established Nicolas Audi Catering in 2008, and went on to found two restaurants: Nicolas Audi Cuisine and Nicolas Audi at La Maison d’Ixsir. He also runs a pastry space with the finest selections of meringues, mignardises, and more under the sun. Do you see yourself as Lebanese and what does being Lebanese mean to you? This is where I’ve lived. There are many factors that keep me in Lebanon, all of which allow me to express myself in my job.
Does what you do affect who you are? It is my nature to be close to people, especially in my job. It is a “métier de bouche”, whereby you automatically open yourself up
to others. I work in hospitality, which means we are happy when someone appreciates what we do.
What is freedom? Freedom is the ability to enjoy all the things that nature and life give us, to benefit from all things evolutionary, everything we have access to. On the object What I express is not only for myself, but also for everyone else. When I draw, it’s for people to see. I identify, in my way of being, with drawing, vis-à-vis the world around us.
Founder and director of Metropolis Cinema/film producer The founder of the renowned Metropolis Cinema in Beirut in 2006, to promote cultural diversity and dialogue through different genres of film rarely seen in Lebanon, Hania Mroue has seen Metropolis go from strength to strength. As well as running the cinema, Mroue is also a distributor of Arab films across the Middle East through her company, MC Distribution. Prior to this she’d worked as a dancer for 13 years with the Caracalla Dance Theatre, before realizing that film was where she wanted to dedicate her future. How do you define identity? A wide combination of everything I do or care for, love or admire. But I guess also my fears and anxieties. It’s nothing fixed, but rather in a state of constant evolution.
How does what you do affect who you are? I worked all my life in the field of art and cinema, and the most beautiful thing about it is that it remains open, always changing and evolving. It brings no certainty, but allows us to always be surprised, moved and affected in various and unpredictable ways. What I experience in this field strongly affects who I am, and determines what I do and the projects that I want to develop. Does what you wear identify you? Some say I’m stuck in the eighties. I don’t give it much attention.
On the object This is my father’s biographical book, around 50 years of struggles and idealism in our tumultuous country. Although I have chosen to wage my own battles in the realm of art and culture, I like to think that I am still very much in his continuity, retaining as much as I can from his never-ending energy.
SHARIF SEHNAOUI Musician
Free-improvising guitarist Sehnaoui is well known both in Lebanon and abroad on the alternative and eclectic free-improvisation music scene. In no small part that’s due to the annual Irtijal festival he cofounded over a decade ago. The event, which brings improv musicians together from Lebanon and across the world in Beirut, has grown year on year to become the premier festival of its kind in the region. Sehnaoui alternates between electric and acoustic guitars but uses no other electronic enhancements, pedals or technology. He produces music under his own labels, Al Maslakh and Annihaya. Do you see yourself as Lebanese and what does being Lebanese mean to you? Yes most definitely, and I’m pretty happy about it. Among other things, being Lebanese is tantamount to having a plural and mixed identity, in an indefinite process of questioning and redefinition. In a nation of sects, religions, families and politics can you truly be an individual?
I believe that you can, but it’s not an easy thing. When I was an adolescent I went to live abroad, officially to study, but my real motivation was precisely to be in a society where I would be ‘anonymous’, not defined by my social/religious/political affiliations. It was important for me at the time. Today I try to avoid these lines of thought as much as circumstances allow.
How does what you do affect who you are? Over time, people become what they do, there is no way around it. The things we do grow into us whether we like it or not. I guess, in my case, this is a good thing, I need to keep being affected by the music that I am doing. On the object A new guitar string and an old pick, clearly the objects that define me most since they are two of my primary working tools as a guitarist. I especially love how the broken pick shows sign of its use, an object that has fulfilled its purpose, whereas the string is ready for the future.
ALEXANDRE PAULIKEVITCH Dancer/choreographer
Alexandre Paulikevitch made a name for himself as a revolutionary baladi performer, an Egyptian belly dance usually performed by women. Paulikevitch grew up in Beirut but moved to France as a young adult, learning and perfecting his practice. Now back in the Lebanese capital, it’s fair to say his shows serve as both an art form that amazes his audience, and a protest against gender stereotypes. Who are you? An unstoppable dreamer.
How do you define identity? Identity is the image we have of ourselves but not the masked one, the true one hidden in each and every one of us.
Does what you wear identify you? Surely not. What I wear is for the others, who I am – that’s essentially linked to my essence. Does where you live, in Lebanon, affect your identity? No not really. I am who I am, wherever I am and with whomever I am.
On the object This object represents a precious part of me, it is very ornamental. It is more of a crown for me, adding mystery to my look and linking me to the ancient tradition of gypsy dancers. And it is subversive when I wear it because it is essentially a woman’s bijoux.
the edit Annie Leibovitz and her women ________ World-renowned fashion photographer Annie Leibovitz has snapped portraits of everyone from John Lennon to Queen Elizabeth II ever since she burst on to the scene as a photojournalist in the 70s. Four decades later, with work for Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue confirming her reputation as one of the most celebrated photographers alive today, Leibovitz has focused her lens on women who carry equal clout in their fields. Titled WOMEN: New Portraits, the exhibition is a reflection – and celebration – of the evolving role of women around the globe, with artists, musicians, CEOs, politicians and philanthropists sitting for portraits. In conjunction, sponsor UBS has launched a digital campaign that encourages visitors to share the stories of inspiring women in their lives via Instagram. Currently touring in Mexico, the exhibition’s next stop is Milan at the super hip gallery space Fabbrica Orobia 15. ubs.com/microsites/annie-leibovitz/en/exhibition.html
© Misty Copeland, New York City, 2015 © Annie Leibovitz
EVERYTHING YOU WANT IT TO BE
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the edit 72
Berlin Art Week_________ It’s little surprise that Berlin’s Art Week (13-18 September) is as intriguing as the city that houses it. Now in its fifth year, the contemporary art event brings together exhibitions, art fairs, awards, films and tours. You’ll also be able to catch work from the excellent Halil Altindere like the above videostill Escape From Hell, 2016. If that’s not enough to whet the appetite, insights into private collections have been promised – and the entire event is underpinned by Berlin’s gritty, pulsating hum. berlinartweek.de/en/berlin-artweek.html
Pre-theatre eats in London at Café Monico __________ Acclaimed British chef Rowley Leigh and the brains behind Soho House have coupled up. Their resulting love child? Café Monico (above), a French-Italian brasserie inspired by the original 1877 establishment nearby that sits smack-bang in central London. The new model melds the glamour of Paris’ belle époque era (think white tablecloths, dark wood and mood lighting) with classic and comforting food from the Continent. Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s an elegant haven for a decadent pre-theatre dinner. cafemonico.com
Knuckle-dusting gemstones from David Morris__________ London-based jeweler David Morris has a flair for the fantastical. His eye-catching creations, which combine exquisite stones with traditional materials, are guaranteed to become coveted family heirlooms – that is, if you can bear to bequeath them. Unlike other jewelers, David Morris’ pieces use as little gold or platinum as possible, preferring to place emphasis on the diamonds instead. The result is knuckle-dusting gemstones, designed with sophistication and worn with certainty. Sold at Sylvie Saliba in Beirut, sylviesaliba.com
© Café Monico © Halil Altindere (n.b.k. and Nordstern Video Art Centre Gelsenkirchen)
It’s new, it’s Karoline Lang and it’s on Avenue Montaigne__________ Step into Karoline Lang’s new boutique on Paris’ prestigious Avenue Montaigne and the designer’s purist sensibilities are apparent. The couture house, housing all four lines by its Lebanese founder Karine Tawil (clothes picitured left), is a sleek, contemporary space with an emphasis on marble, wood and brass. But it’s the clothes that are really eye-catching – known for their emphasis upon the female silhouette, Tawil’s creations are elegant odes to an understated form of femininity. karolinelang.com
Arguably the best art fair in Beirut________ Six years after its inception, Beirut Art Fair – happening from 15 to18 September at BIEL – has established itself as a staple on the contemporary art world calendar for local residents and industry power players alike. As well as work from the region’s most promising young talents in the exhibition Revealing by SGBL, and from
already established artists, like Syrian Fadi Yazigi, Lebanese women artists are also being pushed in a new show titled Lebanon Modern! Showcasing the strength and creative power of female artists from the modernist period, like Marie Hadad and Laure Ghorayeb re on loan from private collections as well the Lebanese Ministry of Culture. beirut-art-fair.com
© Fadi Yazigi, Ball, 2015 (bronze sculpture) Edition of 3
Hair by Sam McKnight _______ Having a bad hair day? Somerset House’s upcoming exhibition (2 Nov 2016–12 March 2017), which showcases hairstylist Sam McKnight’s 40-year career in the fashion industry, is guaranteed to make you feel worse, but it’s essential viewing nonetheless. Celebrating McKnight’s integral role in shaping the images of iconic beauties like Kate Moss and Christy Turlington, the exhibition includes some of the most well-recognised looks of our time. From Princess Diana’s sexed-up, slicked back locks to the golden tresses of Brazilian bombshell Gisele, as well as Tilda Swinton’s short red cut (above) McKnight’s been behind it all – and the extensive collection of photos, magazines, behind-the-scenes footage and commissioned hairpieces prove how instrumental his vision has been to the fashion industry. somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/hair-by-sam-mcknight
© Tilda Swinton, Vogue Italia, February 2003 © Craig McDean, Courtesy Art + Commerce
A contemplative journey along the Thames __________(right) French artist Cyril de Commarque has taken an old freight boat and turned it into the most unique structure imaginable. Behold Fluxland, an interactive vessel that serves as a debate, sound, and visual space and that will begin its journey along London’s Thames this September. It takes its name from the Fluxus movement, an artistic revolution conceived in the 1960s, and has a polyhedron structure that was born out of an old Greek belief that shape inspires artistic reflection. Fluxland reflects the buildings it passes on the Thames through its mirror-like, angled facets, as its visitors are exposed to different sound installations. The vessel, which essentially moors in Imperial Wharf, will regularly board in locations easily accessible to the public. Its aim is to create a debate space where speakers can discuss matters such as history, science and philosophy and their intersection with human progress, and then make it accessible online. De Commarque has been working on this piece for a year, and it’s currently docking at a Dutch shipyard before it sets out on the Thames. We are definitely ready to board. fluxland.co.uk
X marks the spot___________(right) We’ve seen street artist KAWS’ signature crosses stitched on t-shirts, sneakers, and sculptures, and they’re now taking on a new canvas, albeit on the more luxurious side. KAWS has collaborated with Colombian-born designer Nancy Gonzalez, bringing an entirely unique look to her exotic, colourful crocodile leather Gotham clutches, Leaf totes and Gio crossbody bags. Launched at the Paris concept store Colette, the bags are detailed with interior suede lining and the acrylic XX motif – just the right mixture of luxury and humour to have this collection fly off the shelves. nancygonzalez.com
Charlotte brasserie __________(left,) For the well-heeled Achrafieh crowd, Goutons Voir and Nonna Pizza have long been firm favourites – now, restaurateurs Ziad Rahme and Laura Ayoub have applied their winning formula of good food and lively atmosphere to a new venture. Charlotte, a Parisian-style brasserie with a menu focused around French and Italian cuisine, is the latest addition to Mar Mikhael’s frenetic afterhours scene. Serious foodies are advised to order the Assiettes du boucher, while those who prefer a liquid diet must sample the Apero Gourmand cocktail. Madrid Street, Beirut
©Jane Kratochvil ©Cyril de Commarque
Jazz Age Lawn Party __________(right) Sequins, pinstriped suits and drop-waisted dresses take center stage at New York’s annual lawn party for the nostalgicallyminded. Part of the Retro Nouveau movement, the colourful, beautifully orchestrated event in August encourages its immaculately dressed attendees to step back to a golden age of style. Dance lessons, vintage portraits and a Charleston dance contest are all part of the weekend’s festivities. jazzagelawnparty.com
Ralph Masri revives history with new collection _______ Turning to one of the earliest discovered alphabets for inspiration, Lebanese jeweler Ralph Masri brings to life the wealth of an ancient civilisation in his latest fine jewelry collection, Phoenician Script. Masri has always been fascinated with history and his Oriental roots, and he’s decided to incorporate that captivation into 18 carat white, rose and yellow gold heirloom pieces. Offering a unique architectural perspective, the collection is based on the angular and straight-shaped letters of the ancient Phoenician alphabet, and features rings and earrings embellished with complementing sapphires, rubies and citrines, giving them a touch of elegance and filling us here at A Mag with desire. ralphmasri.com
Amchit goes reggae__________ It isn’t summer without reggae music by the seaside. Kul-Cha, the first reggae festival in the Middle East, is back, and it’s bigger than ever. Now in its third year, it comes at an exciting time as Lebanese and international bands begin to experiment with both Rasta tunes and Oriental and Arabic melodies. The line-up includes Rasta Beirut, Rabih and the Playmates, Rum ‘N’ Salty, Art Beat, and Tara Beat, as well as a range of DJs, and will be held at the beautiful Camping Amchit on Friday, 19 August, and Saturday, 20 August. For those looking to take in the full reggae experience, camping is offered on site, as well as craft workshops and art performances, cool drinks, and food. http://bit.ly/2a7P5D3 or call 03 871589
© Ali Annan © AW
L.C. and Climpson_________ Chef Leandro Carreira has proved simple is sophisticated ever since he took over the kitchen at Climpson’s Arch, a restaurant residency that provides a platform for young chefs to showcase their food. Carreira looks to the traditional flavors of his native Portugual, adding a contemporary twist to the bold flavors of cured fish and crispy pig’s ear. This summer, a weekend lunchtime menu encourages diners to better understand the traditions and terroirs of Portugal, with three special dishes from different regions paired with local wine suggestions. Al fresco seating makes the Mediterranean flavors taste even sweeter. climpsonsarch.com
Outdoor cinema in the City of Angels _______ Perched high above L.A., Rooftop Cinema Club (left) enables a city built around the movie industry to enjoy re-watching some of the cult classics it’s produced. The al fresco viewing experience, with rows of striped deck chairs, wireless headphones and fresh food sourced from the local farmer’s market, is enjoyable even for the less ardent film buff; for fanatics, the carefully selected lineup, which includes The Shawshank Redemption and American Beauty, makes it an unmissable summertime experience. rooftopcinemaclub.com/la
A new place to stay __________ The Key ApartHotel in Beirut’s Museum District is the latest in the new trend of high end but affordable hotels to open up in Beirut. With plenty of natural light in the rooms and throughout the space, The Key exudes a general feeling of ease and tranquility thanks to its glass facades, high ceilings, abundance of mirrors, and soothing blue, white and grey colour palette. Ideal for both short and long stays, the rooms are equipped with microwaves, mini-fridges, tableware and cutlery, the cupboards easy to stock with food and beverages from the convenient supermarket on the ground floor. For those not up for cooking, room service is available around the clock, and the restaurant downstairs, The Cellar, serves international cuisine at affordable prices. With 87 rooms/suites over 9-storeys ranging from studios to deluxe two-bedrooms, we reckon your Beirut trip starts here. Look out for the meeting rooms, gym, spa and pool that will be finished by winter and the bikes available to borrow from outside. thekeybeirut.com
Holding, the Arabian Construction Company’s holding unit, the familyfriendly homes bring together the perfect blend of comfort and refinement, with the best restaurants, bars, and shopping Beirut has to offer right outside your door. b11beirut.com
B11 takes center stage in Downtown Beirut_____ A new residential project has come to Downtown Beirut in the form of four contemporary buildings on the beautiful Shoreline Gardens. Featuring modern apartments and luxury retail stores, B11 Beirut is the latest addition to Downtown’s cutting-edge structures. Developed by newly launched By M
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THE ART OF PERFORMANCE
A match made in heaven__________ Identity is key when you’re in the jewelry business. So when Tabbah opened its new boutique at Aïshti by the Sea earlier this year, it created two new and exclusive takes on its Beret line of rings to mark the occasion. The jeweler also created a new model to coincide with the Aïshti Foundation’s current exhibition Good Dreams, Bad Dreams – American Mythologies. These particular rings are so special, explains Nagib Tabbah, because, “they explore the transformative features of this iconic design best expressed with Beret Marin and Beret Sea.” He adds, “more recently we have introduced Beret America, a limited series of 10 rings exclusively created for the Aïshti Foundation’s new exhibition. The unexpected use of colors sets them apart. When you see them you’ll fall in love with them.”
The Beret collection itself is timeless, celebrating its 30th anniversary with a special collection last year. The reason behind its success can be attributed to the ring’s “purity, clarity, a sense of sophistication and an immaculate craftsmanship,” Tabbah says, all of which makes the Beret ring an extremely sought-after piece of jewelry. The seven different styles perfectly match the modern woman’s lifestyle and chicness. Tabbah boutique’s presence in the new David Adjaye-designed Aïshti by the Sea has also added to the unique shopping experience and the boutique’s future at the store “looks very promising,” Tabbah says. Available now at Aïshti by the Sea, tabbah.com
© Guillaume Ziccarelli
AÏSHTI, DOWNTOWN BEIRUT, T.01.991 111 AÏSHTI BY THE SEA, ANTELIAS, T. 04 717 716 EXT. 243
The Minotti Vision _______ Architect Rodolfo Dordoni is widely considered one of the saviours of Italian design and his new home collection with Italian furniture makers Minotti mixes enjoyment, comfort, nature and sophistication to create a perfect balance. It’s tough to stay relevant in the world of furniture design. But Italian manufacturers Minotti are masters of getting it right – not least because they know that endorsing progressive design is key. Alberto Minotti’s firm, established in the 1950s, today run by brothers Renato and Roberto, was reinvigorated in the late 1990s when contemporary designer Rodolfo Dordoni joined them, and they’ve never looked back.
©Minotti Collection 2016 / A New Home Attitude, Portrait ©Federico Cedrone
Marrying a fresh perspective with a desire for working with old and new technologies, Dordoni’s latest entitled A New Home Attitude and comprising a number of collections, pushes through forward-thinking designs. The Freeman seating system – the Freeman Duvet, Tailor and Lounge – embodyies quality of design, longevity and environmental awareness. The Duvet, a sofa in fabric and leather joined by double-stitched bronze-colored eco-leather, has a softness and warmth created by the heat-sealed fiber covering. The Tailor is a series of comfortable islands to serve any home situation, and the Lounge an extension of the Tailor but with reduced depth to allow fluid and flexible arrangement.
polyutherane can be perfectly matched with the rest of the collection. Opposite page: the Creed Collection (top). Below, Rodolfo Dordoni at work. This page: the Freeman Collection (top and last), the Winston Collection (middle)
High-quality natural materials and durability, coupled with a sculptural simplicity that blends functionalism with form, is found in Dordoni’s Creed Collection. The Creed Lounge sofa’s back rests on curved metal supports embellished in glossy bronze while the front is all Sucupira wood wrapped in mink. The new Creed wood armchair is an old favourite reinvigorated in a lighter and more charming fashion, the bronze and mink colours coming through. The Creed small armchair comes with either a swivel or fixed base, in the same colour scheme, while the Creed large armchair with its interior layer constructed from high-density
Perhaps the best example in the collection, meeting the needs of a customer base wanting flexibility with multiple functions in a single product while blending traditional design with new technologies, is the Winston armchair. The outer and inner shell is heat-moulded polyutherane, the capitonné tufting is completed by hand, and the chair’s base is of moulded structural polyurethane with a dark lacquered finish.
All in all, it’s innovative design for a modern-day culture sending heritage brand Minotti soaring into the future. Minotti’s new home collections designed by Rodolfo Dordoni are available at Minotti’s flagship store in the Ivory Building, Akkawi Street, Achrafieh, Beirut. minotti.com
Photography by Raya Farhat
OBJECTS OF DESIRE
Bag DVF______Ring Chloé Shoes Marc Jacobs Behold the trinity of all things shiny and metallic. Pair Marc Jacobs Clinton Oxfords with the Bitsy DVF bag and the Chloé Darcey ring for an alllustrous ensemble
SHOES DSQUARED2 AH, THE SLIP-ONS. SNEAKERS THAT BLEND COMFORT AND STYLE, AND WHERE DSQUARED2 PUSH THE ENVELOPE. THESE BLACK PATENT LEATHER PATCH DETAIL, ROUND TOE, WITH PARTY FIST AND INDIGNANT STAR TRULY ROCK OUT
braceletS ChloĂŠ fierce, bold accessories go a long way. let your wrists do the talking with these gold darcey cuffs that come with pearl or crystal accents
Bags loewe ____________ The only elephant in the room should be a loewe one. Playful and colourful, these crossbody mini bags come with adjustable straps and a top zip closure, as well as a trunk, ears and pierced eyes
Bag Jimmy Choo __________ Why wear jewelry when you can carry all the worldâ€™s gems on your shoulder? This shameless Jimmy Choo Candy Crystal embellished clutch with a 3D gem print and shoulder strap is a feast for the eyes
PUMPS JIMMY CHOO “WE SHALL WALK IN VELVET SHOES WHEREVER WE GO,” WRITES POET ELINOR WYLIE. THESE JIMMY CHOO BORDEAUX “MARI 100” HIGH PUMPS FEATURE LACE DETAIL THAT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE WALKED RIGHT OUT OF THE VICTORIAN ERA 97
Earrings moschino _____
Fashion Kills via jeremy scott-designed “It’s Lit” cigarette earrings. don’t smoke but do add heat with these daring clip-ons suspended from gleaming discs spheres. Love love love Bag Moschino _____ (opposite page) More from Scott’s bonkers Moschino Matchbox Fall/Winter ’16 Capsule Collection. Death by fashion? This chain-strap calf leather purse with its signature Marlboro red and white packaging is the coolest health warning we’ve seen
SUNGLASSES VICTORIA BECKHAM/ CHANEL “SUNGLASSES ALWAYS HIDE A MULTITUDE OF SINS,” VICTORIA BECKHAM SAYS. THESE ICONIC CHANELS AND CUTTING-EDGE VB’S WILL HAVE YOU COVERED
the sacred windows collection
100 RUE DE MADRID, MAR MIKHAEL, BEIRUT
Candle Diptyque _______ No home is complete without a Diptyque, least of all the TubĂŠreuse. Derived from the white Mexican flower, the scent is powerful and rich, all the while retaining a feminine element and cased in a beautiful handblown glass jar. We are hooked
Bag Red Valentino itâ€™s all about florals with red valentino this season. embellished with beads and embroidery,this leather bag is in full bloom
ACCESSORIES DOLCE & GABBANA____ KEEP THESE DOLCE & GABBANA LADYBIRDS CLOSE FOR A LITTLE STROKE OF GOOD LUCK. THE GOLD-TONE BRASS EARRINGS AND NECKLACE FEATURE COLORFUL CRYSTAL EMBELLISHMENTS THAT HANG PERFECTLY OFF GOLDEN LEAVES
Words by Rayane Abou Jaoude Photography by Tony Elieh
IN THE STUDIO WITHâ€¦ RYAN HOUSSARI 108
HANGING OUT WITH THE CO-FOUNDER OF PLASTIK MAGAZINE, FASHIONISTA AND ALL ROUND CREATIVE MAESTRO AT CANDYFORNIA
Candyfornia. Not some confectionary shop on the American west coast, but the bright neon pink-lit workspace on the first floor of a blue but otherwise non-descript block in Beirut’s Monot Street, the domain of stylist/designer/creative director, Ryan ‘Candy’ Houssari.
“It’s hyper-real. You always create a world in your head that is a better version of this world,” Houssari, 31, says. “So you have to distance yourself from the reality that you live in, and this is where the idea [for the studio] came about. I wanted to create a place for me to dream and let others dream when they enter. Candyfornia exists in the hustle and bustle of the city, but is its own entity.” Step inside and find yourself in another world – bright, chaotic, an alternate reality all luminous colours, dripping with pop culture, sex and contemporary art. Figurines are everywhere, neatly arranged on shelves and on desks, facing forward and completely
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This is a Tony Kelly. He photos human bodies and Barbies. He’s another hyperreal photographer. I like the polished and soulless look.
Stewie is my favorite TV character. I think he’s very witty and charming. He’s a world conqueror and I like that. We have that in common.
This is a sushi CD pack. I find sushi a work of art. I even did a collection based on sushi, it was my college thesis and show. I just like the shape and I thought it was sexual.
This is David La Chappelle with Amanda Lepore. I like the contrast with the Lebanese tiles. Again, it’s the naked bodies.
Love Batman. He has been my Halloween costume since I was a kid. He’s my hero.
This is from a Kenzo shop opening in London. It’s candy with eyes in it. It was Maurizio Cattellan. This is how they sent out the invitations. I never ate it.
That’s one of my favorite photos from Miles Aldrige. He’s my favorite photographer. I always have this vision of this surreallooking woman, polished, like butter would melt in her mouth, in real situations. Pills and lips. I always like recurring motifs in everything that I do. Pills remind me of Damien Hirst, another favorite artist of mine.
I never put Barbies with their outfits. I like uniformity. It’s nothing sexual. I just like symmetry and uniformity. You see that in all my shoots.
These are Sonny Angel dolls. I always like to have pieces of contemporary artists. I like to surround myself with that, I travel for that. I spend everything on that.
I can’t buy his multimillion dollar pieces, so this is a Jeff Koons mug from an NYC exhibition. He is the epitome of contemporary artists that make money out of art. I know he’s very pop and cliché, but he’s very smart. And I like his hyperreal inflatables. This is an image from Tom Ford’s only book. I’m all about the 80s and California in the 90s: Baywatch babes, palm trees, pink Cadillacs, art deco Miami, Versace in the 80s, I love that era. Tom Ford is the reason I went into fashion.
symmetrical, and an indication of both Houssari’s passion and compulsion. These include miniature collectibles, most prominent of which are trolls – Houssari calls them his “good luck charms.” He in fact has a project entirely devoted to trolls titled Trollogy, featuring pop culture icons, musicians, and other artists including Anna Wintour, Amy Winehouse, Marilyn Monroe, and electronic music duo Daft Punk all as trolls. They are, he says, his “most intimate babies.”
Make of that what you will, but his very particular taste is proving a success. Graduating from London’s Regent College with a degree in fashion design and marketing a decade ago, Houssari worked as a stylist in Beirut and Dubai before co-founding local style magazine Plastik in 2009, then leaving in 2015 to take Candyfornia fulltime. He has made a name for himself creating and executing branding and visual concepts for films, events and photoshoots, as well as exhibitions for various different companies, window displays and working with 4D modeling. His clients include clothing store Kamishibai, footwear atelier Poise Design in collaboration with CocaCola, jewelry line Leïa K and couturier Tarek Sinno. For Beirut Design Week 2014 he designed Plastik’s pop-up shop and installation. And Candyfornia is where he does it – named for Houssari’s nickname/ alter ego (“At Plastik, we wanted to build an aura around my role as fashion editor, add a little panache.”) and California, a place he loves for its 80s kitsch culture and “palm trees, the one-piece swimsuits, the pink Cadillacs and the postcards from Malibu c.1990.”
“People expect me to be wearing pink the whole time. I used to do that when I was a certain age, it was fun,” he says, laughing. “I was always on the lookout for the newest trends but after a while you just want a uniform because you get more practical.” How easy then is it to incorporate Candyfornia’s vibrant, flashy vision in Lebanon where as a general rule the majority of marketing and fashion campaigns are relatively conservative? Not easy at all, Houssari says, explaining that the majority of businesses are very “careful” with their branding, preferring a more classical look, and that they are fearful of flamboyant colours. “Everyone’s so careful and afraid when it comes to colours in general, because that’s the first thing you see: colours. It’s very restricting for me,” he says.
But that hasn’t deterred him. Houssari feels his biggest project is yet to come, and is certain it will be in and for Beirut. He looks up to the Lebanese who have had the opportunity to leave the country but have chosen to stay, and as such, wants Candyfornia and his work to contribute to enhancing the city, to make it more beautiful. One project last year, Minimal Beirut, was driven by this goal. A series of iconic Beirut images manipulated and made vibrant while managing to retain a very minimal aspect: a McDonald’s sign in sunset hues, a rainbow-tinted Manara Ferris wheel, and ‘The Egg’ in pink under a bright, azure sky. Houssari collaborated on the project with artist Matt Crump, creator of the #candyminimal movement, and it garnered international attention, as well as being showcased at Beirut Design Week in 2015.
“I’M NOT THAT YOUNG GUY ANYMORE WHO WANTS TO RUN AWAY FROM BEIRUT BECAUSE IT’S SO MUCH EASIER TO HATE THE TOWN THAN LOVE IT. BEIRUT IS A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH.”
Houssari explains his work begins with a vision. His entire creative process is focused on visualizing the product and the concept prior to bringing it to life. He puts together a mood board and sketches out detailed ideas, making it easier for both the team and the clients to better visualise the project themselves as well. He edits, and reedits, and then edits some more. “It could be a brilliant idea, but it’s always how you present it,” Houssari says. “And the key word here is edit. I’ve always referred to myself as a “visual individual”, and that’s what sets ‘creatives’ apart from others: our perception of things.”
The studio can create photoshoots in its blue room or go on location. Houssari’s preference is to create sets in his studio, however, because that gives him the freedom to create the space he wants. He also styles, choreographs, and even sweeps the floors and carries the props – “I’ve been doing that since I was an intern and I still do whatever it takes to get the shot right.” Houssari’s creative style and method – like his Candyfornia space – is distinct: lots of bright colors, polished models, naked bodies, and unicorns – in contrast to the designer himself who is far more minimal and monochrome in both attire and demeanor. Today he’s wearing simple blue jeans, an ACNE white tee and a pair of Air Force Ones.
“That’s one of the things that I’m most proud of,” Houssari says, smiling. “It always comes from wanting to do something for this city. I’m not that young guy anymore who wants to run away from Beirut because it’s so much easier to hate the town than love it. Beirut is a diamond in the rough. I personally created a filter a long time ago and I choose what to see, who to see, and what information I am digesting everyday. It kind of blocks all the obscenity and negativity [in this town] and keeps me in my bubble. And it’s a formula that works for me. I wanted to get rid of all the obscenity in Beirut in general and just show people how I see it, and turn it into candy colors.” For more on Ryan Houssari and Candyfornia visit candyforniastudio.com
LEBANON 225 Foch St., Downtown Beirut Te l . + 9 6 1 1 9 9 1 1 1 1 E x t . 4 8 0 AÃ¯shti By the Sea, Antelias Te l . + 9 6 1 4 4 1 7 7 1 6 E x t . 2 3 4
Words by Lucille Howe
THE GENDER FLUID FASHION PACK
Male/Female labels are so last season. Summer 2016 is all about breaking gender norms and dressing to reflect where you sit on the sexuality spectrum On July 1 2015, Caitlyn Jenner’s now famous front cover of Vanity Fair hit the newsstands. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz – like Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and most all fashion royalty before her – this, more than any other media message, announced the arrival of gender fluidity on our magazine pages, catwalks and the high street. Sexual identity back in the days of the Supermodel was pretty much divided into ‘straight’, or ‘gay’, with designers creating looks to enhance those sexual stereotypes. Today, a new generation of gender fluid individuals or ‘non-binary gendered’ are taking fashion to the next level of self-expression, and the global fashion houses have taken note.
The face of Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2016 women’s ad campaign is Jaden Smith. That’s the women’s campaign. Son of Jada Pinkett and Will Smith, Jaden is notoriously non-conformist in his gender identity, and features photographed in the label’s moto-jacket and metallic embroidered skirt from the current collection.
Creative Director of Acne Studios, Jonny Johansson, cast his 11-year old son, Frasse, in his label’s recent ad campaign, dressed in an oversized candy pink coat and elevated in high heels. At the shows, the shift was similarly evident. At A.P.C.’s ready-to-wear, boxy cuts were rife, in monochrome and neutrals. Over at Chloé, sports luxe was juxtaposed with frilly lace in a playful crossover of male-female styling. Marc Jacobs had girls in jock-style varsity jackets and Saskia De Brauw dressed her female models in butch denim jackets and baggy pants. From now on, Gucci recently announced, its catwalk shows won’t even be segregated by gender.
For the past year, trends have steered the majority of fashion savvy shoppers into absorbing a number of gender fluid pieces into our wardrobes. For women, that’s been boyfriend jeans, vintage sweatshirts, dungarees and utility shirts. For the men, that’s been lace shirts, floral bomber jackets, and dandy-ish scarves. Though it was Caitlyn Jenner that captured the world’s attention, various other style ambassadors have been driving this change. Australian model Ruby Rose was announced this spring as the face of Urban Decay to celebrate their 20-year anniversary. Rose broke the
internet when her short fashion film, Break Free, went viral. In it, she transforms from an ultra-feminine woman in a bodycon dress and metallic boots into a heavily tattooed male, dressed in rolled sleeve shirts and sharp suit jacket. She admits, “I am very gender fluid and feel more like I wake up every day sort of gender neutral. I think at this stage I will stay a woman but... who knows? I’m so comfortable right now I feel wonderful about it, but I also fluctuate a lot.”
Miley Cyrus told her mother she was bisexual at 14 and continues to explore her sexuality in her music, styling and personal life (she was linked to Victoria’s Secret model, Stella Maxwell). “I’m just equal,” she says. “I’m just even. It has nothing to do with any parts of me or how I dress or how I look. It’s literally just how I feel.” Notably provocative in her red carpet choices, she’s been seen in everything from breast-baring Barbarellastyle silver space suits to androgynous tailored suits. Add to these pioneers the likes of Kristen Stewart, Cara Delevingne and Lily-Rose Depp, and it’s no surprise the high street has followed.
& Other Stories, from the H&M group, hired a transgender team to style the campaign for a recent capsule collection, using transgender models to advertise it. Spanish label Zara recently released a 16-piece collection of unisex pieces that includes grey marl shorts, low slung jeans, hoodies and denim work jackets, and UK department store Selfridges launched Agender, a concept space designed to create a genderless shopping experience across fashion, beauty and accessories.
Of course, this recent swing may have simply followed the 20-year cycle we so see in fashion trends. There was, after all, a 70s love of androgyny – think Bowie, Jim Morrison and Grace Jones – and then there was the unforgettable Beckham-in-a-sarong 90s moment and Kurt Cobain in ‘guy liner’ and the occasional dress. But never before has the fashion world been such a playground for the colourful and unique personalities that are redefining gender and style. We’re all somewhere on the sexuality spectrum, so don’t be stereotyped.
The gender fluid aren’t the only tribes creating a new identity through fashion
Chic Pensioners 94-year-old New York style icon Iris Apfel put her own spin on a collection by & Other Stories when she advertised their recent campaign, proving that fashion and old age aren’t mutually exclusive
The One-Offs Chantelle Brown-Young, previous America’s Next Top Model contestant, is well known for her identifying birthmarks, and uses them to make her style fiercer, instead of covering up
Kids with Clout 16-year-old fashion blogger Tolly Dolly Posh represents a new generation of style scrapbookers who create their own signature looks. Check out blogganistas The Confetti Crowd too, four kickass girls who are leading the pack
Tan Calf Joyce Bag, 2016
loewe.com AÃ¯shti By the Sea, Antelias
FASHION ON FILM â€“
HOW CINEMA TREATS (AND MISTREATS) OUR FASHION ICONS
In anticipation of the new Alexander McQueen biopic, currently in production with director Andrew Haigh helming, Alexei Perry Cox takes a look at past cinematic representations of eponymous fashion legends from Coco Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent
Mike Goldwater/Alamy; Hugo Philpott/AFP
MCQUEEN’S IMPORTANCE LIES IN HIS CONTROVERSY, A TRUE RULE-BREAKING ARTIST
Opposite: the late Alexander McQueen photographed in XXXX Above: McQueen’s powerful and cinematic 2001 Spring/Summer Collection VOSS show
Above and below, Gaspard Ulliel as Yves Saint Laurent in director Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, 2015
post-recession politics, littering his runways with debris and using props from previous shows. In his 2001 Spring/Summer collection VOSS show, he used an enormous glass box of mirrors to literally force the fashion audience to confront their own reflections – before smashing it all to pieces only to reveal a woman, fully nude, obscured by a gas mask and surrounded by moths.
In an industry that values – by necessity – femininity, luxury and novelty in equal measure, an industry that makes its fortunes off the backs of the fantasy and invention of womanhood, the late Alexander McQueen was the great transgressor.
He parodied these certain ideals, exposing perhaps that this invented woman never existed in the first place – showing not an illusion of beauty but often a brazen and disfigured female form instead.
McQueen made resoundingly powerful statements about the industry itself by making conspicuous his
Earlier this year the news broke that award-winning director Andrew Haigh is at work on the celluloid biopic of this mercurial talent. Considering Haigh’s thoughtful treatment of a long-term relationship shaken by the discovery of a long-buried secret in the acclaimed 45 Years, no doubt he’ll treat this new subject with similar attention to detail. He is unlikely to provide yet another facile portrait of a tortured male genius who suffered for his art while making the world a more beautiful place for the rest of us. That story has been told numerous times before.
McQueen, like all couturiers, faced the recurrent problem of re-invention. Often we talk about an artist “inventing him- or herself” but that assumes they know who it is they want to invent. And who they want to invent it for. In high fashion there’s no easy answer. The clientele – from the magazine writers to the people who’ll eventually buy and wear the garments – are
ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy; AF archive/Alamy
McQueen’s importance then lies in his controversy. A trailblazing and rule-breaking artist in a field that is often meant to be make-believe – added to which were the struggles with his own personal demons. In 2010, he was found hung, after overdosing and slashing his wrists with a ceremonial dagger.
Scenes from Yves Saint Laurent, Jalil Lespertâ€™s alternative take on the designer, 2014
notoriously outspoken, critical. Having to repeatedly outdo yourself is a special kind of hell known almost exclusively by those under the highest stresses of the haute couture industry.
While many documentaries have celebrated or scandalised the head designers under the conditions of the largest fashion houses (Valentino in The Last Emperor or Mizrahi in Unzipped) and there have been poignantly rendered fictional full-length features of the fashion world (The Devil Wears Prada or Fassbender’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant), there have been relatively few designer biopics on the silver screen.
TWO FILMS ON COCO CHANEL, PARIS’S MOST NOTABLE STYLE DISCIPLINARIAN, VIED TO UNDERSTAND THE PERSON BEHIND THE LEGEND, WITH SELECTIVE GLIMPSES INTO PIVOTAL YEARS OF HER LONG LIFE
2014 saw two French productions attempt to encapsulate the genius and the emotional demons of the late Yves Saint Laurent. Bertrand Bonello’s unauthorised film titled Saint Laurent is a baroque treatment of a period of peak creativity that situates YSL at the height of his infamously scintillating sex life and substance use. It is a hyper-saturated world of hallucinations and orgies contrasted only by the austere space of his atelier. It never falters in looking both vapid and decadent at once.
Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent, supported by the designer’s real-life partner Pierre Berge, is a much more restrained affair. Most vividly featured in this version are the head-turning clothes, of museum-quality, that were borrowed from the collections for the making of the film. Much of the behind-the-scenes drama however, the life beyond the fashion runway, feels like a well-appointed exhibition of life. The dialogue is staid, the relationships fall flat and the whole project is more interesting for the sake of seeing archival fashion-inmotion than getting a more nuanced or comprehensive picture of a person. In other words, though both films eventually cover similar plot points (a youthful innocence in his early creations at Dior, his subsequent subversive behaviour and debauchery, his rich but complex relationship with Berge), neither reflects on the motivations or aspirations that truly drive an artist. Bonello’s is too focused on the elements of depravity and indulgence and Lespert’s is too rigidly fixed on accurate representation. They fail to show any centre of the man himself. The shy but passionate couturier remains mostly a mystery, protected from an audience curious
about those details. The Yves Saint Laurent of both films is kept at an emotional distance.
Similarly two features on Coco Chanel, Paris’s most notable style disciplinarian, vied to understand the person behind the legend, with selective glimpses into pivotal years of her long life. Anne Fontaine’s Coco Before Chanel is a naturalistic and unsentimental treatment on Chanel’s early years. Orphaned, Gabrielle (before she was Coco) is depicted with little idealism but a fiercely stubborn ambition that leads her through positions as a music hall chanteuse and a milliner. It isn’t a rags-to-riches story, rather a survival of the fittest. In this depiction, she is shown to work hard, deal with people realistically, and treat fashion like a job. That we learn she died on a Sunday while at work makes the biopic all the more absorbing for being hardnosed and unadorned. It isn’t necessarily intimate but it is faithful to how Chanel herself might likely have wanted her story told.
Anna Mouglalis as Coco and Mads Mikkelsen as Stravinsky in 2010Ęźs Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky directed by Jan Kounen
Chanel’s story continues in an entirely different film, Jan Kounen’s Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, which followed shortly on the tails of Fontaine’s full-length in 2009. It is a flawless and chic account of the tryst between the artists suffering only from perhaps being too wellmodulated and polished. It lacks passion. The film is engrossed in showcasing their mastery of performance (creatively or in the bedroom) rather than revealing much of their humanity. Chanel, throughout, is shown with little self-analysis in any given context. All of these films have suffered from their potential strengths: indulgence, restraint, realism and pretention, respectively. Each of which, as taglines in the fashion world, could make or break a new collection – without the proper execution and finesse. When it comes time for the McQueen biopic, let’s hope for a less a straightforward chronicle than an impressionistic depiction of its subject’s split
personality. While Haigh’s feature will necessarily shuffle the usual rise-and-fall trajectory of someone whose love-hate relationship with fame and taste for self-ruinous behavior ultimately ended in tragedy, let’s hope the motivations and contradictions are given good screen time. Let’s hope for something not too sober but real enough to sink our teeth into. Let’s hope for something that might reveal that McQueen’s idealism was perhaps larger than his life.
Anne Fontaine’s Coco before Chanel, 2009 starring Audrey Tatou as the iconic designer
POP ART ILLUSTRATIONS BY STEPHANIE CHELALA AND LEA OUEIDAT
Bag Saint Laurent
Dolce & Gabbana
iu uM Mi
Look Alexander McQueen, shoes ChloĂŠ, bag Gucci
MIX AND MATCH
Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbanna
Shoes Alexander McQueen
Look Zimmerman, bag Dior
Valentino Saint Laurent
Dolce & Gabbana
Words by Marwan Naaman
THIS IS MY ID
Fashion is ubiquitous. It’s what we wear, it’s on every billboard, every screen, it’s social media, it’s human, it’s who we are… A Mag explores how fashion and identity are inextricably linked Every fashion lover knows that what you wear generally reflects who you are. Your style easily informs your friends, acquaintances and even strangers about your career choice, your taste, spending habits and sometimes even your mood on a particular day. 142
While you may be tempted to think of fashion as fluff, your individual style is often a result of a multitude of factors: where you live, your shopping budget, pop culture, your role models, TV, movies, music and, of course, social media. Fashion allows you to leave a lasting impact in a matter of seconds. In big cities like London, Paris, Beirut or New York, for example, when you’re among a large, anonymous crowd, your fashion look enables you to make a powerful imprint in just a few fleeting moments, often ensuring that complete strangers will remember you thanks to that oversized flower you pinned to your sleek black Valentino dress or the bright red floral hat you matched with your otherwise simple beige Burberry trench.
In the recent past, fashion was linked to the sex of the wearer: men usually opted for functional and practical clothes (like a suit or basic khakis), while women placed more emphasis on the aesthetic appeal of a certain item, like sky-high heels in electric colors, a plush Fendi fur coat or barely-there tops with shimmering animal prints. But as gender barriers started to collapse at the end of the 20th century – with the emergence of pop stars like Boy George, who wore makeup and women’s clothing, and Annie Lenox, who belted out Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) in a man’s suit – fashion increasingly started blending aesthetics that appealed to both sexes. As a result, you now have incredibly hip brands like The Kooples, Diesel and True Religion that offer identical jeans, tops and even shoes targeted to both genders. The Kooples, in particular, has been adept at capturing the 21st century’s fluid gender identity, with clothes that can easily be worn by either sex. The three brands above (one French, one Italian and the other American), while instantly labeling the wearer as hip, also suggest that you’ve embraced the new century’s
Chris Lee and Kong Hyo Jin attending the Gucci Cruise 2017 fashion show at Westminster Abbey, London June 2016 Photo by John Phillips / Stringer
Dior Pret-a-porter Autumn/Winter 2016
androgynous ethos and that you’re quite comfortable with your sexuality.
More often than not, the city in which you live affects your style, and you end up reaching for looks that blend your own personal outlook with the vibe that permeates the place you call home. In the 1990s, the North American city of Seattle spawned grunge music, and overnight, young people were looking to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain as their indisputable style icon: ripped and faded jeans, flannel shirts layered over dirty T-shirts and black Dr. Martens boots became de rigueur on the West Coast, and later around the globe, as the grunge look came to reflect the personal style of an entire generation – a generation that chose to express its anti-materialistic stance with an uncoordinated, slovenly but edgy fashion identity.
FASHION ALLOWS YOU TO LEAVE A LASTING IMPACT IN A MATTER OF SECONDS
While the more expensive labels are often associated with personal style, you can sometimes also communicate your individuality by your selection of items and the way you choose to wear them. Back in 1996, fashion icon Sharon Stone set an international style standard and broke Red Carpet rules by wearing a low-priced black Gap turtleneck to the Oscar ceremony. Though casual and affordable, this aesthetic was incredibly glamorous, resulting in sold-out black Gap turtlenecks across the United States the next day. As the lovely Ms. Stone proved, you don’t have to spend a fortune to create your fashion identity.
S.I.N. / Alamy Stock Photo Trinity Mirror / Mirrorpix / Alamy Stock Photo
Burberry’s Brit frangraces campaign shot by Brooklyn Beckham in London, January 2016 Below: Style icons Annie Lennox and Kurt Cobain
Your fashion choices can sometimes also reflect your spending habits. Even if you don’t wear some of the most exclusive and expensive brands, like Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Dior or Saint Laurent for example, you can still communicate that you enjoy spending on your clothes, by donning such brands as Dsquared2. This Italian label can be particularly reflective of your personality because each collection is ultra-trendy and rooted in the moment – so much so that clothes can often look dated with the passing of a single season. Those who wear Dsquared2 are telling the world that they have the means to spend on clothes that are expensive and edgy, while caring little about the fashion items’ ephemeral nature.
Over the past few years, with the advent of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Snapchat, fashion has undergone yet another major transformation, as social media quickly and dramatically revolutionised each user’s fashion identity. Earlier this year, Burberry’s chief creative and chief executive officer Christopher Bailey asked Brooklyn Beckham (the 17-year-old son of David and Victoria Beckham) to photograph the fashion house’s latest Burberry Brit fragrance ad campaign. The reason for this choice? Bailey was reportedly confident that the young Beckham’s nearly 8 million Instagram followers would provide the maximum reach for his fragrance. By the same token, Kendall Jenner was chosen as the face for Estée Lauder, most probably due to her 61 million followers on Instagram.
In certain cases, your fashion identity can also create a sense of community. If you shop at Aïshti, Aïzone, Harvey Nichols, Barneys or Bloomingdales, odds are that you will run into many of your friends: you’re generally close to people who share a similar sense of style and appreciate the same fashion brands.
Balenciaga Pre-collection Autumn Winter 2016 Below: Boy George
Your choice of clothes and accessories not only gives those around you an inkling of who you are, but also of who you aspire to become As fashion has evolved to permeate every aspect of our lives, it’s developed into one of the most personal modes of expression. Your choice of clothes and accessories not only gives those around you an inkling of who you are, but also of who you aspire to become. As you try out various styles and adapt them to your own personal
taste, you’re creating something utterly vital, while also instantly changing your appearance to reflect your persona or your mood at a specific point in time. The ability to personalise style, and to use it to express who you are, is perhaps one of the most revolutionary aspects of 21st century fashion.
AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo
Social media and the Internet have also allowed previously unknown men and women from around the globe to set style standards thanks to their distinct fashion identities. Italian blogger and fashion designer Chiara Ferragni is now one of the world’s leading fashion icons thanks to her popular Instagram account. Closer to home, Lebanese blogger Lana El Sahely has taken the Arab world by storm, as she shares her own personal fashion identity, via Instagram and Snapachat, with a loyal Middle Eastern following that seeks to emulate her style choices.
p. Paola Naone - ph.Andrea Ferrari
Baxter flagship store Al Arz street, Saifi Beirut Lebanon +961 1 563 111 firstname.lastname@example.org Vivre Dbayeh internal rd & Congress Center bridge inters Antelias +961 4 520 111 email@example.com vivre.com.lb
Â©Lukas Maverick Greyson/shutterstock.com
A LEGEND LOST
HOP TO IT
1. Balenciaga 2. Chloé 3. Dior 4. Stella McCartney 5. Marc Jacobs 6. Emilio Pucci 7. Dolce & Gabbana 8. Anya Hindmarch 9. Gucci 10. Loewe 11. Gucci 12. Dior 13. Miu Miu 14. Balenciaga 15. Sonia Rykiel 15 & 16. Céline
6. 11. 8. 10. 12.
DARKNESS FALLS Sonia Rykiel
1 . Jimmy Choo 2. Saint Laurent 3. Marc Jacobs 4. Cushnie et Ochs 5. Stella McCartney 6. Valentino 7. Gucci 8. Red Valentino 9. Marc Jacobs 10. Marni 11. Linda Farrow 12. Saint Laurent 13. Stella McCartney 14. AlaĂŻa 15. Valentino 16. Sonia Rykiel
2. 3. 4.
1. Dior 2. Valentino 3. Marni 4. Gucci 5. Fendi 6. Dolce & Gabbana 7. Proenza Schouler 8. Marc Jacobs 9. Balenciaga 10. Etro 11. Tory Burch 12. Etro 13. Dior 14. Dolce & Gabbana 15. Miu Miu 16. Alexander Wang
Runway: Dior, Top: Stella McCartney
CITY IN BLOOM
IN THE MIX
Look: Dior, Shoes: Stella McCartney
1. Stella McCartney 2. Gucci 3. Balenciaga 4. Marc Jacobs 5. Stella McCartney 6 & 7. Dior 8. Tibi 9. Sonia Rykiel 10. Dolce & Gabbana 11. Gucci 12. Dior 13. Saint Laurent 14. Miu Miu 15. Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini
Words by Rayane Abou Jaoude Photography by Marco Pinarelli
IN CONVERSATION WITH NOUR AL NIMER
A Mag meets the up-and-coming TurkishPalestinian luxury home décor designer, whose background and identity is deeply embedded in her exquisite creations. We tip her for great things Nour al Nimer speaks with a softness and matter of factness you’d normally attribute to someone twice her age. That might be because she’s had twice the amount of life experience for her years. At 31 Nimer has studied, worked and travelled all over the world, been engaged (it didnt end well), and by 28 had established her own tableware and home décor business. Appropriately named Nimerology, her works are sold online and exhibited in both London and Beirut. She’s never looked back. Raised by a Turkish mother and Palestinian father, Nour grew up in Beirut surrounded by art, courtesy of her art collector dad Rami’s Dar El-Nimer, an independent nonprofit foundation for arts and culture. It’s that upbringing that spurred her interest in chinaware.
“My love for ceramics was instigated whilst growing up because of my father’s Islamic art collection, particularly Ottoman art that consists mainly of ceramics, manuscripts, textiles and furniture,” she says. “I grew up with a lot of it around me and found his Iznik pottery collection simply exquisite. I’m captivated by the impact Chinese porcelain had on Ottoman ceramics and what a significant role it had in its production and decoration and on its influence on European porcelain like Meissen and Rococo Turquerie. I am also very passionate about textiles and embroidery, Ottoman and Mogul textiles from my father’s collection inspire my floral designs. And above all Palestinian crossstitch embroidery, which is a vital and valuable symbol of my Palestinian heritage and roots.”
For Nimer designing tableware is important because it goes back to the tradition of inviting neighbors and friends into the home to share a meal. This is especially applicable to occasions such as weddings, funerals, and others. “People always come together and socialize around food,” she says.
Her designs feature floral illustrations, patterns – even historic photographs, and cover everything from fabrics, tableware and chairs, and her inspiration comes on the whole from her travels and multicultural background.
Nimer left Beirut when she was 17 to study in Britain, completing a degree in Surface Print Design at the London College of Communication, and later an MA in Fine Arts from the Chelsea School of Art and Design. She moved to Istanbul last year after 13 years in London, looking for change and new beginnings, returning to a city she spent time in as a child. And though the Turkish metropolis is her base it’s the visual experience she brings back from her travels that fills her thought provoking designs. “I travel a lot and I try to experience new cultures as much as I can, which is what most of my collections are based on,” she says. Her most recent project, I Left My Heart in Mexico, came about after a trip to the South American country, and comprised a limited edition collection of 200 plates for traveling decorative arts gallery Gabrielle & Guillaume. They sold out in a week. The plates were inspired by Mexican textile and sculpture, made clear through the earthly colors of deep blue, teal, and maroon, and embroidered with flowers and animals in black and gold, highlighting Nimer’s fascination with nature. Her experience in Mexico and the way it is manifested in her work is mostly personal, for it’s not entirely obvious to everyone that the plates were inspired by that particular country. It’s her own interpretation of what she saw, she says.
“When you look at my collection, you can’t immediately tell it’s from Mexico,” Nimer says. “Each individual connection [to the works] could be different.” Her work also includes bowls, cups, saucers, cake stands, teapots, and dinner sets, and as well as being sold at various outlets, she has been exhibited both in Europe and the Middle East. Nimerology’s plates are replete with colors, nature motifs, and iconic landmarks, like one of two birds of prey perched atop a blue-painted St. Mark’s Basilica.
“Nature and texture are an integral part of my design. You will always find flowers or animal motifs in every one of my collections. Flowers, trees, plants are often plucked from nature and brought into our homes to make them
“IF I GO INTO SOMEONE’S HOME AND I SEE A BEAUTIFUL TABLE IT MAKES ME HAPPY. AS AN ARTIST I WISH TO PROJECT THE SAME FEELING THAT I GET WHEN I SEE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THROUGH MY DESIGNS.” more beautiful. I try to explore that in my designs and products by adding those elements,” she says.
Previous pages and this page: ʻI left my heart in Mexico,ʼ limited edition collection exclusive to Gabriel & Guillaume
While Nimer sees Beirut and London, the cities she grew up in and spent much of her early adulthood, as home, and has been moulded by her Palestinian and Turkish heritage, her constant travel means she also manifests as belonging to a larger global heritage. “I definitely see myself as being half Palestinian, half Turkish… Being Palestinian is a big part of who I am, my growing up and my identity. My childhood is in Lebanon but I also spent a big chunk of my life in London. I’m everywhere.” Most recently she’s been to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which had a profound effect. Watching the sunrise at the temple complex and studying people’s reactions to it proved to be a “very special and spiritual” experience, inspiring her to incorporate what she saw in
a coming collection.
Nimer emphasizes that as a designer, she is driven by her love of beautiful things, a further reason why travel is so important to her work: her exposure to different cultures and sceneries allows her to express what she has seen and felt in her designs.
What’s the purpose of it all? To bring happiness to people’s homes, she says: “If I go into someone’s home and I see a beautiful table, it makes me happy. As an artist I wish to project the same feeling that I get when I see beautiful things through my designs.” “I love finding the beautiful in something that initially can start off as not so aesthetically appealing: a burnt wooden bench for example. But from there you can look at the formation the ashes have created, the different tones of burnt wood, all the lines that are formed are extremely inspiring,” Nimer says. “I want what I make to be welcoming, romantic, but mysterious at the same time.” Nimerology.com
BIG SPECS, PLEATED SKIRTS AND THE MAN WHO MADE US WANT THEM
Words by Anna Murphy
Since taking over at Gucci, Alessandro Michele has renewed the brand’s identity and made eccentricity cool again
© Gucci, BFA-Matteo Prandoni / The Interview People, Gucci Pre-Spring/Summer 2017
“I LOVE TO MIX EVERYTHING TOGETHER. IT’S REALLY MY WAY TO SEE BEAUTY”
“The show had crazy Victorian pieces, crazy kind of schoolboy pieces, some crazy beautiful young nobles, some romantic punk. I tried to put into the collection some of the pieces in my heart when I think about London. I try to mix together this crazy English aesthetic. It’s like a little poem to the city.”
This is Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci, talking about his recent and acclaimed pre-spring/ summer 2017 show at London’s Westminster Abbey, whose favourite word is indisputably “crazy”, and who, since he took over as head of the label 20 months ago, has spread his idiosyncratic variety of fashion fever across the globe and has won himself A-list fans from Cate Blanchett to Sienna Miller and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Michele splices styles and eras, moods and colours with abandon. “I love to mix everything together. It’s really my way to see beauty,” he says. In one collection he will give you six skirt shapes not one, more colours than you can count, and a veritable phantasmagoria of accessories — shoes and, especially, bags, embellished to within an inch of their lives: loafers encrusted with pearls or lined with fur; bags embroidered with flowers, birds, bees, snakes. (Michele used to be an accessories designer, of which more later.)
“I think if you work with different kinds of codes, attitudes, in the end you have a language,” says Michele. “It’s like within a person. You have different kinds of attitude. You are not always the same.”
Michele cites as his earliest fashion influence his aunt — “crazy”, of course. “She was this crazy, eccentric woman who spent all her money on clothes. She was a happy person who really loved to live. She wanted to change every hour. She would say to me, ‘Come into my dressing room and we will change me into a beautiful dress.’ The thing I loved most about her is that she expressed her love for life with dress.” And the pre-spring/summer 2017 collection would have made his aunt proud, cross-pollinating AC/DC embellishment with Catherine de Medici-inspired velvet robes; sports sweaters with tiered chiffon; male models with female (often it was unclear as to which was which). “If you put one thing with another thing, it’s like they start to talk,” explains Michele. “You have a new language. This is my vocabulary.”
He also presented a series of popping one-colour ensembles with more than a whiff of Her Majesty about them. The 43-year-old Italian has a bit of a thing for the British monarch. “That you still have the Queen in Britain means a lot. I think English people are very close to the culture and their past,” observes Michele when we meet at a bijou London hotel. It was the British capital’s mashup of old and new, posh and street, that made him want to present his latest cruise collection there. “I remember once seeing a wedding outside St Paul’s, and there was an old English lady, perfect dress, and this crazy young guy, probably a nephew. This is London.” Michele’s choice of Westminster Abbey for the show was one of his most jaw-dropping to date (perhaps,
surprisingly, Westminster Abbey agreed straightaway to the brand’s proposal, and a spokesperson described the show to me as a “new and exciting collaboration for us”), but he has been causing chins to hit the floor since his debut men’s collection in January last year. That the 95-year-old Florentine label had lost its lustre since the heady days of Tom Ford’s Gucci was indubitable, but the front row wasn’t prepared for Michele’s bravura brand of more-is-more multicoloured postmodernism, which looked like the result of a rummage in quite the most fabulous vintage shop imaginable, complete with Deirdre Barlow specs. The British fashion pack immediately loved it. Others, in particular the more conservative Italian press, took longer to come round, but come round they definitively did. And what of the consumers? When the clothes and accessories arrived in the shops a few months later it was quickly clear there was method in Michele’s madness. Revenues in 2015 were up 11.5% year on year to €3.898 billion, and Michele’s first collections didn’t even drop until halfway through the calendar.
These days the list of celebrities who don’t wear Gucci is shorter than the one of those who do.
Michele is someone who is changing fashion. The quietly spoken, Jesus lookalike sitting before me — the only man, not to mention woman, I have met who would think of pairing thick white sports socks with black mary-janes, then somehow pull it off — doesn’t appear to be a revolutionary. Yet that is what he is.
The designer believes that trends are over, those strangely old-fashioned diktats that one season is about this trouser shape, the next season about another. “If you have rules, you let creativity sleep,” he says. What’s more, he believes that, under the guise of trends, the fashion industry has been too busy hawking vast quantities of unexceptional new stuff — “product”, as he calls it, in industry parlance — rather than concentrating on less that is more beautiful.
“We live in a world that is full of product,” he tells me. “We have too much. I like the idea that you can keep something in your wardrobe from the past, and that it can feel new.” Michele makes clothes that look like heirlooms, rich in detail and — in their diversity of reference — strangely timeless. No doubt heirlooms are what they will become.
His ability to drill down into individual pieces, to mine seam upon seam of beauty, stems from his background as an accessories designer. “I give people, I think, a big story, which is important, but I also define every little piece. When you work in accessories there is the idea of just one. A ready-to-wear [clothing] designer is concentrated on the idea of a line. I am concentrated on every piece becoming special. A bag, a pair of shoes. They can live alone. So, be it a jumper or a skirt, I really want it to be able to live alone too. They don’t need to be part of a total look.”
“We live in a world that is full of product. We have too much. I like the idea that you can keep something in your wardrobe from the past, and that it can feel new.”
Ahhh, the ‘total look’. More industry terminology, and another approach that Michele is challenging. This is
Gucci Autumn/Winter 2016
because nobody asked me to. Now I can’t imagine myself in that position. But creativity at that time belonged only in my private life.” (Michele shares two stylishly bonkers homes with his similarly bearded urban-planning professor boyfriend, their two Boston terriers and the countless objets d’art that he calls his “collection”.) A brief meeting with the incoming chief executive, Marco Bizzarri, turned into a four-hour download by Michele of everything he knew about Gucci’s past, which was a lot, and everything he imagined for its future. “The archive is full of crazy things that were created for rich people who wanted something special. It makes it very clear you have to be open to the idea of creating something unexpected.” Bizzarri listened, then “said bye-bye”. That, as far as Michele was concerned, was that.
the dogmatic notion that a woman will buy head-totoe one designer, will express their vision of how she should look, rather than her own. Michele, in contrast, produces collections that offer myriad ways to be a Gucci woman (or man). Michele talks a lot about the importance of “freedom” for the consumer, and it strikes me that this is what is most refreshing about his take on the modern mega-brand. “I know that my work is sometimes too eclectic,” he says, “that there is too much going on, but in the end I think she is very recognisable, this woman.” He is right. Despite the “confusion” of his aesthetic — his word, not mine — it has somehow quickly become one of the clearest fashion identities around. “My aesthetic is not just a confusion, it is a language,” is how he sums it up. Language: his second favourite word.
And, thanks to the death of the total-look approach, it’s a language from which one might choose to adopt just a bon mot or two, to embellish one’s own style discourse. Those of us with neither the money nor the inclination to go completely crazy for Michele’s crazy can buy into the brand with a couple of pieces that are flexible enough to be worn with — shock — our own, realworld non-brand clothes. In other words, he gives us the option to be not a Gucci woman, but an individual who occasionally likes to wear a bit of Gucci.
What’s more, he gives us time to come round to an idea, be it in the form of a bag or a blouse. “I love to have the same things season after season, and explore how to make something new that is not completely new.” Which means, if your personal taste arbiter doesn’t work at the lightning speed of the front row’s, you still won’t necessarily have missed out on those furry loafers that you initially weren’t quite sure about, but are now besotted by.
Michele had been 12 years at Gucci, latterly as right-hand man to the previous creative director, Frida Giannini, when he got the big job. He was on the verge of leaving, “bored” by the brand, as pretty much everyone else was at the time. “It was just a job. I didn’t use my stomach too much
However, Bizzarri called him the next day, asking him to do a presentation. “It was like an exam, a beautiful exam, because I didn’t have anything to lose,” Michele recalls. Bizzarri was convinced by what he saw. Or, as Michele puts it, with characteristic romanticism, “he fell in love. It was destiny. We agreed entirely. He really believed, and he understood that it was crazy.”
Or not. “Michele knew every corner of Gucci,” Bizzarri tells me. “He lived and breathed the DNA of the brand. And he was a normal person, which in this industry is not always the case. Someone well-educated. Someone who listens. That was what I was looking for.” “I was brave, yet not brave like Marco,” says Michele now, smiling. “He had the responsibility of the zeros. But he understands that in fashion you can make a big business if you have big creativity.” Under Michele, Gucci would seem to have endless supplies of both. “The ideas are the easiest part of my job,” he tells me. “I never stop. My creativity is really me. It’s my way to live.” And, for the moment at least, it’s the way the rest of us want to dress.
D V F. C O M A Ï S H T I D O W N T O W N B E I R U T/A Ï S H T I B Y T H E S E A A N T E L I A S /A Ï S H T I V E R D U N
Photography by Sergio Ramazzotti
IN THE ATELIERS OF BUCCELLATI
Top: Andrea Buccellati examines work by one of his goldsmiths on a pendant as his daugher Lucrezia looks on Above: A completed necklace lies next to Andrea’s original design in Buccellati’s Milan workshop
A Mag editor Ramsay Short spends the day with the father and daughter creative team driving the iconic Italian jeweler into the future “It’s all in the engraving,” says Lucrezia Buccellati, scion of Buccellati and its first female creative director, as she walks me through the firm’s Milan workshops. “This is rigato, where parallel lines are cut into the surface metal to give it a sheen effect; and here you can see what we call modellato, one of our most delicate techniques.”
The artisan in front of us is closely focused chiselling, reproducing white gold leaves on a minuscule scale in three dimensions to decorate the border of a pendant. “I couldn’t concentrate like he does with us peering over his shoulder,” Lucrezia adds, conveying her sense of awe at his ability. The work is intricate and time-consuming; often takes weeks and the craftsmen and women who do it spend up to ten years learning the techniques.
The results are instantly recognizable as Buccellati, the signature textural finishes distinctive, often ornate and lace-like and always richly detailed. Pieces are created to look and feel like silk, damask, tulle, lace or linen. Mixed metals are also used (silver and gold, platinum and gold), and more often than not unusual gemstones, from large cabochons and carved emeralds and rubies to rose-cut diamonds. Lucrezia points out a woman working on segrinato engraving, where thousands of lines are etched in numerous directions into the gold with a miniature burin tool, giving it a finish like satin. We move to rooms where stone-setters are working, and then to another area where goldsmiths are busy ‘honeycombing’ – carving tiny hexagon-shaped cells through the metal to create a tulle-like effect, before each side of each cell is individually polished – a method unique to the almost century-old company. They are following a hand-drawn design on a simple A-4 sheet of paper of a brooch with brief instructions from Lucrezia’s father, Andrea, Buccellati’s president and lead creative director.
“They are artists,” says Lucrezia. “You have to have passion to do this job.”
Her role, indeed her passion, is creating new designs along with her father. Not one item is the same – in that they are all handcrafted and no lines are made in bulk numbers – and many are entirely one of a kind. Which is perhaps why Buccellati remains jewelers to the Spanish royal family as well as the Vatican. Contardo Buccellati first started making jewelry and silver in the eighteenth century, but it was his son Mario, who built the name and Buccellati artistic style, opening his shop in Milan in 1919. Gianmaria, one of his sons and Lucrezia’s grandfather, took over in the mid-1960s, and Andrea apprenticed with his father as a child and continued to work with him until his death last year. Today, despite being part owned by an Italian private investment company (a necessity in order to expand) and with stores throughout the world from Beirut to Tokyo to London to New York, Buccellati remains a family-run affair. Andrea’s sister Maria Cristina is the company communications director, his brother Gino runs the silver production, and the ebullient Luca – a smart salesman who I meet briefly in the jeweller’s flagship Milan boutique which he oversees – takes care of the company’s most exclusive and high-end clientele.
At his office in the workshop, I watch while Andrea meets with an independent goldsmith he’s commissioned to examine the progress on a radiant gold ring. The craftsman is intent as Andrea regards the ring through a magnifying glass comparing it to his original sketched design, pointing out any flaws or positives. “This man worked with my father as did his father, using our traditional techniques. It is a very close-knit relationship and one we know we can rely on. You can see he is just working on one piece for us and it will take weeks to get right,” says Andrea. “But that is what Buccellati is all about, quality and standards that will never be lowered, something I learned from my father.” “So we will never produce tens of thousands of rings to sell to a wider global market – that would inevitably compromise the quality,” adds Lucrezia.
Working mostly from New York, where she lives with her husband and young son, what Lucrezia brings to the business is an eye for the youth market, one Buccellati has not traditionally reached.
“My grandfather designed for his market, and my father designs for us, and with each generation the aim is bring some freshness and new ideas, while staying true to the Buccellati ethos, and that’s what I am doing,” she
“BUCCELLATI IS ABOUT EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY AND STANDARDS THAT WILL NEVER BE LOWERED. I LEARNED THAT FROM MY FATHER”
Clockwise from top: A goldsmith ‘honeycombing’ a jewel; An unfinished pendant set with diamonds being worked by a master artisan; Andrea Buccellati inspects a ring crafted by an independent goldsmith in his office; Casts of jewels designed by generations of the Buccellati family; The intricate tools of a goldsmith on a desk in the atelier
Aïshti, Downtown Beirut 01.99 11 11
Aïshti by the Sea, Antelias 04. 71 77 16
Right: a brooch yet to be set with diamonds next to its original drawing Below: Andrea Buccellati examines a ring
transition metal that protects and cleans the white gold to within an inch of its life making it even whiter. The yellow gold is not affected, the enamel is removed with acetone, and the eventual piece emerges with beautiful white and yellow gold contrasts. It’s just another mindboggling part of what goes into the making of Buccellati jewelry in a process that can take as little as a month and as long as six, to complete. For Lucrezia, Buccellati’s new style, and the one she wants to promote, is both “classic and rock and roll,” the jewelry can work in different ways for different moments. And while she is clearly proud of her appointment as Buccellati’s first female designer, she insists that it is the joint creative process with her father that is key.
says. “I’ve noticed that women my age, in their late 20s and early 30s, are looking for something more discreet and super wearable.”
Her first collection, Blossoms – pendant and button earrings, cuffs, necklaces, chains and rings – in silver and inspired by flowers designed to be worn on a daily basis certainly reflects a more youthful yet still refined vision. And it’s been so successful, among both older and younger customers, Buccellati is re-launching the line this year with a very modern campaign featuring Italian model of the moment Elisa Sednaoui, shot by star photographer Peter Lindbergh. “With Elisa we’re trying to create and put across an image of a Buccellati lifestyle, which is something we’ve never really done before, a very new thing for us,” Lucrezia says.
We enter a room where people are working on cleaning and polishing the jewels again by hand, the final stage in the production process before the items are checked for quality and distributed. One process is called Rhodium plating, where a red enamel is used to cover the yellow gold parts of a piece and the white gold is left uncovered. The piece is then dipped into a Rhodium bath – a silvery-
“For me it is the balance that we have between us that is most special, and makes the difference in our jewelry. Women have a different sensibility to men, we perceive jewelry in a different way also because we use the products, so we bring something different as designers,” she says. “In my designs, I think about fashion, for example – something my dad isn’t really into – and also about how the changing world affects what we do. Such knowledge is very important to me as a designer – during WWII a lot of jewelers in Europe worked only with silver because customers couldn’t afford gold. Today technology plays a role, so I designed an iPhone case, a major diversification for the brand. “But ultimately it is not about the sexes – although obviously it’s a good thing that in a traditionally maledominated field a woman is taking more of a leading role. It is about who has the gift of good design,” says Lucrezia.
That gift, along with the family-focused creative direction, and the incredible amount of artisanship and hard work that goes into the jewelry is what makes Buccellati so special. And what will likely make it successful for generations to come. For more on Buccellati visit buccellati.com. Visit the Beirut Buccellati boutique exclusively at Aïshti by the Sea
LESILLA.COM Aïshti, 71 El-Moutrane Street T. 01.991111 - Aïshti by the Sea, Antelias Tel.: 04.717716
Elisa wears a jersey pull and a jersey pleated skirt by Bottega Veneta, leather ankle boots by Prada, and a vintage silk turban
ALTERED STATES The everyday woman, the socialite, the artist, the partygoer, the doe-eyed youth. Our cover star Elisa Sednaoui channels Cindy Sherman adopting different guises, changing for the camera, playing with the notion of identity as depicted by what we wear and the masques we put on, asking who we are, why we are and who we can be?
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAURA SCIACOVELLI
STYLING BY AMELIANNA LOIACONO
SHOT ON LOCATION IN LONDON
American photographer and artist Cindy Sherman spent a large chunk of her childhood and adolescence in Long Island dressing up in different costumes and wearing makeup, an examination of the self perhaps unknown to her at the time. Years later, she gained international fame and recognition for her photographs that, for the most part, featured her as the subject, ‘not’ selfportraits as it were. Sherman’s work – some of which has sold for millions of dollars – has served as a study on identity, truth, and power, made possible through her use of ornate costumes, wigs, props and make-up. She has been a clown, a victim of abuse, a corpse, a sex doll, transforming for each photograph, becoming less and less herself, suggesting that identity is malleable and unstable. Her series, Untitled Film Stills, made between 1977 and 1980, included 69 untitled black and white photographs of her posing in generic female roles: a housewife, a bombshell, an office girl, set both indoors and outdoors and made to look like 1950s and 1960s film stills. For Sherman, ambiguity is key. On location in London we evoke the artist’s creations with the perfect muse: model, actress, philanthropist and film director Elisa Sednaoui.
Floral printed shirt and longuette by Dolce & Gabbana with lace-up shoes by Dior
Wool maxi coat by Bottega Veneta
Elisa wears a silk dress and silk veil by Moschino
She is in a printed cotton skirt, silk shirt and coat all by Tori Burch, and a vintage scarf
Elisa wears a wool maxi coat by Burberry and lace maxi boots by Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini
Wool cape and a plexi-handbag by Dolce & Gabbana, woolen hat by Prada, velvet pumps by Miu Miu
Elisa wears a floral printed shirt and longuette by Dolce & Gabbana with lace-up heels by Dior
She is wearing a Valentino dress
Reclined, in a silk robe by Gucci
Above: Elisaâ€™s total look is Gucci Opposite: Velvet mini dress by Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, velvet pumps by Miu Miu Hair Stylist Shiori Takahashi, Hair Assistant Natsumi Ebiko Make-up by Jo Frost @ CLM Hair using M.A.C Cosmetics Model Elisa Sednaoui
AN INTERVIEW WITH ELISA SEDNAOUI Elisa Sednaoui talks life, identity, and social entrepreneurship with A Mag editor Ramsay Short
As someone with Egyptian, Italian and French roots, how would you describe your own personal identity and what it means? The variety of cultures I was exposed to growing up gave me the ability to look at life from different perspectives and a strange, intricate sense of belonging. The best part of this “globalised upbringing” is the many places you consider home. What I appreciate the most is the ability to adapt to any sort of situation and person. Of course, growing up it was challenging to build my own identity in between different universes that are so close and yet so very distinct in traditions. You can feel confused about what or who your true identity is. But the good thing is as you grow through life experiences, you meet more people like you and you realise that being yourself is the most important. Where do you feel most at home? Home is where I am with my loved ones, my husband and my son, my close family, and my friends. Our physical home today is in London. Being home is the best feeling, of peace and time and cosiness […]. Egypt and Italy do very much feel as home too. I like their familiarity, the more laid-back and warm rhythm
[there] too. I feel at home as I breathe the air of Egypt, where I lived full-time the first five years of my life, which profoundly marked me. The smell of spices mixed with dust and sand, the feeling of being in an old time adventure, the sun and the light, the meditation and contemplation, the very special energy blasting from the ground. The heart of the Egyptians, their humour and kindness, their contradictions. In Italy I love when I hear in the afternoon my neighbours playing their music loudly and singing along, when the afternoon is quiet and I can hear the pigeons cooing. But I must say that I feel a very strong connection to Lebanon, where my grandfather still lives. You run your own charitable foundation, the Elisa Sednaoui Foundation. What is it? The foundation creates cultural centres that provide after-school programs for children from four to 16 years old, focusing on the arts in the broad sense. Once, twice, three times a week or hopefully as many times as they wish, children will have access to high quality after-school classes of painting, music, acting, photography, holistic health, gardening, recycling, cooking, and more including two elements present in traditional education: foreign languages and literacy. The idea is to create the structure, curriculum, and training methods in sustainable centres which can be
replicated everywhere in the world (of course adapted to the context). We would like it to be considered a valid alternative, an option of a safe haven, […] for the children to be seen, heard, and loved. We currently operate in Egypt and Italy. ESF works in four complementary spaces: our own curated curriculum, after-school classes, youth workshops, and our unique Train the Trainers program in Arabic. As someone with a profile and ability, do you feel a responsibility to help those less fortunate? I think everyone, whether you have a “profile or ability”, should actively think every day of what we can do together to make this world a little more the way we want it. We can’t expect things to happen if we don’t contribute and make the changes in our own life and attitude. Personally, I also try to go through life following the mantra “do to others what you’d like them to do to you”. This has become what I dedicate most of my professional time to.
Why was the foundation’s first project piloted in Egypt, and Luxor in particular? I started in Egypt because that’s where I got the initial inspiration. I started in Luxor because that’s where I spent most of my time since I was a child and where I had the most connection with the local community, which was crucial to begin the project. As I was working on another project in Egypt a few years ago, I visited by chance a school in the countryside of Upper Egypt. It was August and it was the month of Ramadan. A few volunteers were running additional Arabic, English and Math classes. The kids must have been around six years old. I was reminded of the thirst of knowledge of these children. I was reminded of how, like former US President Bill Clinton says, talent is equally distributed in the world but the opportunities are not. As those thoughts floated in my head, they were fuelled by the desire I always had in me, since I was a little girl, to work in something that would combine the artistic and the social, possibly in Egypt. As I was seven months pregnant [at the time] I made the first concrete steps. What forthcoming projects can we expect from the foundation? We are working on the expansion to two more locations in Egypt and setting the ground for more locations around the Middle East. We are also collaborating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide the Train the Trainer Adults Program to refugees in the form of a one-year sponsorship. We are continuing the national implementation of our
programs in Italy, in collaboration with [non-profit organisation] Save The Children.
You channelled Cindy Sherman, and many different personas, for our shoot. Do you have a favourite image? I like them all because of the variety itself. I’m so impressed with my friend Laura Sciacovelli’s work on the shoot, she really nailed (re)creating universes which are connected, yet stand alone. For once they try and tell a story whilst leaving space to the imagination. Every situation is believable. One of my favourites is the shot where I’m wearing the pink hair and the net. It’s so absurd. I think as women we have so many faces and we should embrace them all for what they are, instead of trying to prescribe “one” recipe of the “attractive woman”. And I’m not talking about the physical at all here, I’m referring to the set of behaviours and attitudes that are considered by “society” as “accepted”. The “achieved woman”, the “good” mother, the “good” wife. Many women feel guilty for not corresponding to those guidelines, which is unnecessary and unfair.
What’s next in the creative life of Elisa Sednaoui? Most of my “creativity” today is being poured in the social project because that’s where I think it is most needed at this stage. With my husband and my young son to take care of, there is not much mental space left for other things. There are other projects on the line, perhaps a couple of movies as an actress, some commissioned interviews and a project that I would direct; fashion is a constant in my life so we’ll see what will come next with that field as well. In the meantime I try to live life. For more information about the Elisa Sednaoui Foundation visit elisasednaoui.org
CONCRETE JUNGLE Wired to everything, feeling nothing. Boyish looks and loose fits expressed in gritty urban north London
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ARVED COLVIN-SMITH
STYLING BY KATIE FELSTEAD
SHOT ON LOCATION IN HOLLOWAY, NORTH LONDON
Hanne wears a vintage Gucci silk scarf, shirt and wool vest by Prada, trousers by Stella McCartney and shoes by Christian Dior
She’s in a top and trousers by Céline, shoes by Christian Dior
Hanne wears shirt and skirt by Christian Dior, jacket by Paul & Joe, shoes by Marc Jacobs
Hanne struts in a jumpsuit by Kenzo
She wears a shirt by Paul & Joe, coat by Bora Aksu
Hanne is in a sweater by Stella McCartney, trousers by Temperley London
She wears a sweater, shirt and trousers by Dolce & Gabbana, shoes by Jimmy Choo
Hanne is in sweater, skirt and shoes by Marc Jacobs, shirt by Paul & Joe
Her jumpsuit is Kenzo, her shoes by Marc Jacobs
Hanne is in a shirt and wool vest by Prada, trousers by Red Valentino
She wears a shirt by Red Valentino, vintage jeans by Leviâ€™s, boots by Anya Hindmarch
Her sweater, shirt and trousers are by Dolce & Gabbana Hair by Ernesto Montenovo Make up by Kentaro Kondo Model Hanne Linhares @ Storm Models
AFTER EVERYONE’S GONE
Home abandoned, she’s left alone... among the ghosts. Her soul to wander, after everyone is gone... who am I? Who am I? Am I? PHOTOGRAPHY BY CRISTINA CORAL
STYLING BY AMELIANNA LOIACONO
SHOT ON LOCATION IN VILLA FERRO, TRIESTE, ITALY
Dress Tory Burch, boots Alberta Ferretti
Dress Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, boots Alberta Ferretti
Dress Dolce & Gabbana
Dress MSGM, vintage socks, shoes Ermanno Scervino
Clutch Dolce & Gabbana
Dress Philosophy di Lorenzo Total look Serafini CĂŠline
Dress Michael Kors, sandals Roberto Cavalli
Dress Miu Miu
Dress Miu Miu, pumps Dolce & Gabbana
Pumps Dolce & Gabbana
Dress Red Valentino, ring Ca&Lou
Vintage socks, dress Gucci
Dress Stella McCartney, slippers Miu Miu
Dress MSGM, vintage socks, shoes Ermanno Scervino
Dress Ermanno Scervino
Dress Dolce & Gabbana Hair by Alessandro Rebecchi Make up by Cecilia Carbonelli di Letino Model Kate P @ Next
CECILIE & AMALIE SŒURS JUMELLES
148 SAAD ZAGHLOUL STREET, DOWNTOWN BEIRUT / AÏSHTI BY THE SEA, ANTELIAS
BEIRUT SOUKS, SOUK EL TAWILEH T. 01 99 11 11 EXT: 560 AÏSHTI BY THE SEA, ANTELIAS T. 04 71 77 16 EXT: 263 BEIRUT CITY CENTER, HAZMIEH, LEVEL 1 T. 01 287 187 ALSO AVAILABLE AT ALL AÏZONE STORES IN BEIRUT, DUBAI, AMMAN
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS 238
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TONY ELIEH
SHOT ON LOCATION AT THE AISHTI FOUNDATION
Bag by Nancy Gonzalez
This page and opposite: bag, shoes and jeans by Fendi
This page: bag by CĂŠline. Opposite: bag, shirt and coat by Prada
This page and opposite: coat, dress, shoes and bag by Gucci
This page: bags by Loewe. Opposite: shirt, bag and shoes by Saint Laurent
TEAR IT UP PHOTOGRAPHY BY RAYA FARHAT
STYLING BY MÃ‰LANIE DAGHER
She is wearing outfit and bag, both by ChloĂŠ
Sheâ€™s in a dress by Boutique Moschino. Her crossbody bag is Jimmy Choo
Jumpsuit by Red Valentino. Her clutch is Bottega Veneta, pumps by Dolce & Gabbana
She wears a playsuit by Self-Portrait
Her clutch is Diane Von Furstenberg
Sheâ€™s in pants by Sonia Rykiel
Her shoes are Marc Jacobs
Sheâ€™s wearing a dress by Boutique Moschino, her shoes are Marc Jacobs
Sheâ€™s in sandals by Jimmy Choo Hair by Ghassan Cheib, IDay Spa Make up by Safinaz Nachar, Chanel Model Karolina @Velvet Management
AĂŻshti by the Sea, Antelias T. 04 71 77 16 ext. 274 and all AĂŻzone stores T. 01 99 11 11 Follow us on instagram: @melissashoeslebanon
THE ULTIMATE BEAUTY AND WELLNESS DESTINATION
AÏSHTI BY THE SEA, ANTELIAS, LEVEL 4, T. 04 711 940
Photography by Raya Farhat
PERFUME, POWDER & PAINT
It’s Armani, it’s Chanel, it’s Lancôme, it’s Bobbi Brown, it’s your make-up blueprint for the summer
Opposite: Giorgio Armani Air di Gioia Eau de Parfum, Sì Eau de Toilette
Chanel Les Beiges Duo N.02 Healthy Glow Multi-Color
Above: LancĂ´me Juicy Shakers Pigment Infused Bi-Phased Lip Oil Opposite: Chanel Les Beiges Duo N.02 Healthy Glow Multi-Color, Dimensions de Chanel Mascara N.10 Noir, Bobbi Brown Blush Duo Plum/French Pink and Nourishing Lip Color Coral Pop, Giorgio Armani Sepia Highlighting Palette and Maestro UV Make-up Primer
Words by Harriet Walker Illustration by Raphaelle Macaron
11 MAKE-UP RULES THAT WORK FOR THE STARS
The Interview People
Renowned make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury did Amal Clooney’s wedding make-up and she gave Jennifer Lopez those cheekbones. She shares with A Mag the tips that every woman needs for everyday beauty 6 Play up your eyes. “For 80 per cent of people, the eyes are their The arcane art of putting on a face is something many women feel they will never master. Most of us get by with rules passed down from our mothers and tips gleaned from glossy magazines ten years ago. You suspect you’re not quite getting it right, but you’re baffled by the number of products on sale and what they could possibly be used for. “We’re just expected to know what to do with make-up,” says make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury. “The cosmetics industry is confusing because there’s too much stuff and no navigation. Celebrities have a team of experts making them look that good – why should it be a VIP club?” Speaking of VIPs, Tilbury has powdered and perfected the likes of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. She did Amal Clooney’s wedding make-up. She gave Jennifer Lopez those cheekbones. Her own range has achieved the status of make-up bag must-have in just two years. Here, she shares with us the tips that every woman needs for everyday beauty.
1 Wear make-up – no, really. “No one looks better without
make-up,” Tilbury says. “That’s a fact. Even if it’s just a little bit of concealer and a bit of mascara.”
Don’t test foundation on the back of your hand. “If you’re in the shop, draw a line straight down your face and across your jaw – if it matches across both, it’s your colour. You don’t want a tidemark.”
Apply bronzer properly. Tilbury’s advice: look in the mirror and suck in your cheeks, then brush your bronzer into the hollow. Using swirling motions, touch up your temples, across the bridge of your nose and across your chin to mimic a suntan. “It will make you look happier and healthier,” she says. Try Giorgio Armani Sheer Bronzer 500, available at Aïshti stores.
4 Revive older skin with highlighter, applied to the top of
your cheekbones and under your brows. “A bit of peachy pink is very youthful when you’re a bit older, and can make crepey eyelids look smoother – you can cheat things back up.”
5 Curl your eyelashes. “Straight lashes can act like a hood,” Tilbury
says. “Curling them opens up the eyes, and makes them look bigger. You just lift and curl them, to help your mascara do its job.”
best asset, but women never know what colour goes with them.” For green eyes, look for amber, bronze and amethyst shades; for blue, try champagne, silver and grey; and for brown, pick tawny hues with green undertones to bring out the hazel.
Dewy, not shiny. “Any shine under the eyes, along the nose or round the mouth and chin will make you look jowly. People with oily skin should carry powder with them every day – choose a good, fine powder full of emollients that goes on like silk.”
8 Don’t be scared of lipstick. “As you get older, lipstick can put a
bit of life and prettiness back – especially rosebud colours. Choose your lipstick according to skin tone, and consider your eye colour, your hair and your style.” Try Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture 319, available at Aïshti stores.
9 Always use lipliner. “Match it to your lipstick,” Tilbury says. “Not only does it help to stop feathering, everybody has slightly uneven lips, so liner gives you a perfect pout.” To apply, smile to make your lips taut so you can easily follow the line of your mouth and always use a sharp pencil.
Liquid eyeliner is not impossible to master. “You have to use something with a firm nib, like a felt tip,” Tilbury says. “Even I have trouble with those little brushes, so give up on that.” From the inner corner, draw along the lash-line to three-quarters of the way along, then look in the mirror, draw a dot where you want the flick to finish on each side to make sure they’re level. Then join the dots to the line. Try Lancome Liner Plume, available at Aïshti stores.
Keep eyebrows light. “Never go darker than your hair colour, even if your hair is dark – otherwise you’ll look like Groucho Marx.” Choose an eyebrow pencil that isn’t too waxy, and draw in soft, feathery strokes. Hold a pencil, vertically, at the side of your nose – brows should start at that point. Then rotate it diagonally across your iris – that’s where the arch of your brow should be.
Interview by Raseel Hadjian Photography by Raya Farhat
LIKE FATHER LIKE DAUGHTER
A Mag talks family, work and Urban Retreat with Reena Hammer, MD of London’s exclusive day spa brand in Harrods now open in Beirut at Aïshti by the Sea
Established in 2002 as a first of its kind super salon concept, and taking up residence on the top floor of Harrods department store in London, Urban Retreat opened its first international branch at Aïshti by the Sea in June. Hosting a members-only gym, rooftop pool and café restaurant, the new Urban Retreat at Aïshti by the Sea gives you access to a wealth of beauty expertise and the best treatments and facilities across the city, all the while taking in a stunning sea view and enjoying the world’s finest brands. Following in the footsteps of her father, entrepreneur George Hammer who has been involved in the beauty and wellness industry for decades, Reena Hammer was appointed managing director of Urban Retreat earlier this year. Reena discusses growing up in a talented family, her love for her job and how Beirut’s Urban Retreat came about. You studied Latin and English Literature at university, what drew you towards working for Urban Retreat? Growing up as the only child in a family-run business, it was inevitable that there would be an element of expectation that I would join at some point, but before I made any decision I wanted to go and study something that I loved, something that was completely unrelated to business, hence why I studied Latin and English Literature. I have always worked and initially worked with my father on business ventures completely unrelated to beauty. But having two very dynamic and talented parents who worked in the beauty industry, I soon realised that I had a lot of the knowledge required to make it already, and my love for beauty and an increasing desire to join the family business soon followed. What is the most interesting part of your job? What keeps you motivated? I’m lucky that I adore my job. It is so diverse and I get to do so many things, from working with some of the best brands in the world devising strategies on how best to market their products within Urban Retreat, to working alongside architects and designers on all our new projects. I have especially loved being part of the design and build process for Urban Retreat at Aïshti – the place looks stunning and I know will be a huge hit!
What was one of the most well received projects you introduced to UR? Without question, the Moroccan Hammam that we built in Harrods is quite simply amazing – it’s like nothing ever done before. Admittedly it was a big risk and a very complex build as it is on the fifth floor of the world’s most famous store and there were lots of elements that needed to be considered. The finished space is just breathtaking. You really do feel like you have been transported to Morocco once you step inside. Our customers and the press both love it. I am also really glad that we have been able to bring in Andrew Barton to lead our hair team. Never before have we had a well-known and award-winning creative hair stylist leading the salon. Not only is he incredibly talented but he’s also incredibly humble and the whole team has really warmed to him. We can’t wait for him to come out and start seeing clients in Beirut too. I’m confident that everyone will love him! What is your proudest achievement so far at UR? Becoming Managing Director of Urban Retreat earlier this year has to be my proudest achievement. Being responsible for the team and the vision is very exciting – it’s both a personal and professional achievement for me.
What is your personal favorite UR treatment? I wish I had more time for treatments! I do get my nails done every week as a treat to myself and when I can I will book in for an Urban Retreat praffin wax body treatment. It really is excellent – it leaves skin smooth, reduces water retention, aids in firming and banishes any aches and pains!
“BEIRUT IS AN AMAZING CITY ― VERY COSMOPOLITAN... WE FELT THIS WOULD BE A GREAT THING TO BE PART OF” Why did you choose Beirut to open the first international UR? Beirut is an amazing city – very cosmopolitan; it has ties to Europe and the women are elegant, stylish and classy, plus they are already very interested in beauty. We have many Lebanese clients at our flagship in Harrods, so we knew it would be a success. Really, the opportunity came by pure chance when my father met Tony Salame. When you meet Mr Salame you realize you have to jump in – what he’s doing right now is dynamic and completely forward thinking and we felt this would be a great thing to be part of.
Do you have any new ideas or projects underway? We have a phrase in England – ‘all the buses come at once’. So we have multiple opportunities but it’s about which one is the right one to do. We will be opening more Urban Retreats in the future and we intend to grow and expand our own product line too. Urban Retreat at Aïshti by the Sea, Antelias, Level 4, T. +961 4 711 940
Words by Rayane Abou Jaoude
Striking symmetry, vibrant colours, whimsical architectural geometry – Serge Najjar’s images capture a less noticed and intensely beautiful Beirut, emphasizing man’s smallness in relation to the world he’s created
All images ©Serge Najjar, courtesy Galerie Tanit
NOT WHAT YOU SEE, BUT HOW YOU SEE IT
Red Swipe 2015
With almost 80,000 Instagram followers, an acclaimed joint-show at Galerie Tanit in Munich, and a nomination for the prestigious Prix Pictet photography award, you’d be surprised to learn that Serge Najjar is a financial lawyer by trade.
Though, he explains, he’s really always been a photographer. It just took him a while to realize. At 17 he randomly shot construction workers operating in large, industrial buildings, focusing on shapes and shadows. Years later, while working on his PhD he experimented with painting but depicted only monochrome-coloured squares. A piece by French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier was the first artwork he bought. Modernism, futurism, brutalism, architecture, shapes, colours… “It all makes sense. It was all in me since the beginning,” Najjar, now 42, says, eyes twinkling, heartened by the thought. “One day it just comes out. Some people live with that all their life and they don’t find the right way to make it come out, and it’s a shame because we are what we have always been. We don’t really change.”
Enrolling in a photography class (after his mother registered him to make up the numbers) he began taking photographs with his iPhone. And his pictures immediately focused on geometry, light and shadow, and architecture often featuring a small, lone figure in the midst of overpowering backdrops. “When I discovered that I was obsessed with architecture, I started taking pictures from my car, from anywhere, with my mobile (phone). You just bend your wrist, and take
Above: Paper Clip 2013. Below: Soul of the Visible 2015
Leb Corbu 2014
your picture. So you discover new angles and you discover that what can be interesting is also another perspective of (an) architecture or a building,” Najjar says.
Immediately posting them on Instagram, he found the social media photo sharing site the perfect outlet for his very particular aesthetic and stressed that most of what he’s learned about photography he’s picked up from the site – a reason why now even with his success he still uses it.
“What’s great about Instagram is it’s really a window for everyone who has creative abilities, and it’s huge. What is amazing is that now anyone can be on Instagram, it’s really something that is very easy to have. This is the biggest strength,” he says. “I still learn a lot from that, and even sometimes from people’s comments and sometimes their way of seeing my pictures.”
Najjar insists he doesn’t plan his photographs, and when he captures a person, that human element amidst the grandiose architecture adds to the impact of the image. His eternal consideration, his motto if you like, is: “It’s not about what you see, it’s how you see it.” “Many times I just sit and wait and nothing happens, I just have empty facades. They could be strong pictures, even if empty, but they are stronger with the
Red Brick conversation 2015
human element,â€? he says. He often goes out before dawn driving round Beirut, watching and waiting, particularly in summer when the light is strong. Najjarâ€™s human subjects are almost always strangers, and many of them are construction workers. One image, Red Brick Conversation, shows two workers whose clothes and hands are marked with white paint engaged in a discussion. The entire backdrop is a brick wall, and the two are poking out of a small, rectangular crevice and are not looking at the camera. Another, Small Talk, is a flat slab of concrete, with two unfinished windows on the bottom half of the photo. On the left two men, one of them sitting on the windowsill in a pink sweater and in complete contrast to the grey backdrop, engage in conversation. These are people seen everyday, forgotten in a matter of seconds, if paid attention to at all. Construction workers, walkers, men and women all who are temporarily present in the moment, whether in real life or on camera. Their smallness in relation to the buildings around them suggests an inverted power relationship in which the man-made dominates the maker. Najjar himself uses the French phrase les instants ĂŠternels, or
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Above: Shadows and Planes 2015. Below: Trinity 2014
“THEY COULD BE STRONG PICTURES, EVEN IF EMPTY, BUT THEY ARE STRONGER WITH THE HUMAN ELEMENT” ‘everlasting moments’, to explain how images can capture moments, seconds even, of time and make them last forever.
“There is this duality between them (the people) being temporarily there and then moving to another construction site and you’re just freezing the moment and bringing this dust and this concrete and the stones and the texture, bringing all that into something that is worth really looking at,” he says. Najjar’s photos are abstract and minimal, with an element of the surreal. The subjects are almost always alone, miniature individuals in a concrete jungle, sometimes on the street, sometimes in a building, and sometimes even appearing to defy gravity. Najjar believes identity should continuously expand and evolve, and should be not limited. This is especially true for Lebanon, he says, as a country that has gone beyond the weight of identity. The Lebanese are incredibly diverse people, and their identities are ever changing. It falls true for Najjar himself, who identifies as both a lawyer and photographer. He loves his job, and keeps his photography for the weekend, going out on Saturday and Sunday mornings and shooting for a few hours. “The whole process of taking a good picture is understanding light,” he explains. “My biggest work is on light and I try to find a perfect moment where I have the most optimal time for the shot and I take it.” Najjar shoots on a very simple digital Canon EOS 5S, in addition to a few nondigital ones, a Mamiya 6x6 and an old Zeiss that was his father’s, as well as of course his iPhone. He never uses a tripod or Photoshop and sees himself as being “totally independent, totally free”, and is not constrained or pressured into having to edit.
The Galerie Tanit exhibition in Munich, which runs until September, is entitled Sculpting the Shadow and centres around the subject of architecture as art, specifically on the challenges of space, light, and shadow. As well as Najjar it features German artist Martin Spengler, whose work focuses on sculpted structures. “I had never met Martin, but the dialogue was so fluid and it just makes sense,” Najjar says. “It’s really a wonderful ballad through architecture or through elements of architecture with no real geographic location.” Najjar says that the beauty of his photographs lies in the idea that they could have been taken anywhere, but viewers still sense that they were shot in Lebanon. It’s a way of “loving his country”, he says, because it means that people can still find positivity through art in Lebanon. Looking at his gorgeous images, we believe him.
“Sculpting the Shadow, Serge Najjar and Martin Spengler,” runs until 3 September at Galerie Tanit in Munich, galerietanit.com/exhibition/sculpting-the-shadow. Follow Serge Najjar on Instagram @serjios
Words by Natalie Shooter Portraits and images by Myriam Boulos
REDISCOVERING THE LOST VOICES OF ARABIC MUSIC
Above: Kamal Kassar. Below: Mustafa Said
Meet the man preserving the Arab world’s cultural heritage through the world’s largest known library of tarab and classical Arabic music of musicologists, researchers and musicians, along with the centre’s resident experts. They come to discover the largest known record collection of Egyptian, Syrian-Lebanese Arab music dating from 1903 to the 1930s, housed in a custom-built temperature-controlled pavilion-come-studio in the back garden of AMAR’s founder, Kamal Kassar.
20km from Beirut, the sleepy mountainous village of Qornet el Hamra is an unlikely location for the Foundation for Arab Music Archiving and Research (AMAR). But since it was founded in 2010, the usually quiet neighbourhood has attracted a steady flow
Kassar, a businessman, has long been passionate about classical Arabic music, collecting rare records of numerous past artists including many relatively unknown greats from across the Arab world. In 2009, while making homemade compilations of recordings from his personal archive for friends, he came across the record collection of late Egyptian musicologist Abdel Aziz Annani, and suddenly saw a chance to share the golden age of Arabic music with a much wider audience. Annani’s impressive collection of 2,500 rare records, acquired and catalogued over decades, was close to being lost after his death with his sons keen to quickly sell and disperse them. Kassar stepped in and purchased them all, saving
The Amar Foundation houses thousands of Arabic music vinyl and reel recordings, including original pressings, ’45s and formerly unknown records, as well as books and brochures documenting the height of classical Arabic musical production. There is also unique and updated musical equipment on which to play, listen and digitise the collection available at the archive
the collection from disappearing into the pawn shops of history.
“[Annani] had a real interest in the cultural movement in his country and was invited many times to the radio to speak about music. He also had close relations with some great musicians at that time. His collection was visited by many researchers from many countries,” says Kassar. Among the collection he discovered many new artists from the region’s musical golden age, finding some incredibly rare records impossible to find elsewhere, along with a collection of books, reel recordings and record company brochures. With such an important archive in his possession, Kassar decided to create the AMAR Foundation in order to preserve, digitise and raise awareness of the existence and rich history of the Arab music tradition. And he brought together an expert team of music researchers, musicologists and ethnomusicologists to manage it. THE COLLECTION At the bottom of a large garden, dotted with fruit trees is the impressive modern building that houses the AMAR Foundation and its archive. Endless rows of neatly stacked records in crisp white sleeves fill the shelves, carefully catalogued. The studio includes stateof-the-art recording equipment, a reel-to-reel recording machine and an old gramophone, through which the records can be played, recorded and consequently digitised.
Over the last few years AMAR’s collection has steadily grown – adding other important record collections from the Arab world to create an ever more complete archive. It now consists of over 7,500 78rpm records of classical Arabic music from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s, along with hours of reel recordings. The recordings are largely from the Arab world’s major music centres Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, but include recordings from Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait and Bahrain.
The core of the collection is from the Nahda era – a renaissance period in classical
“LOTS OF THOSE SINGERS, BOTH WOMEN AND MEN, ARE SO PRECIOUS, SO GENIUS THAT WE ARE SORRY WE DON’T KNOW MORE ABOUT THEM”
Arabic music that started before the earliest recordings and continued until the 1930s. Even within the Arab world, the bulk of these artists are unknown. AMAR is sharing these lost voices with the world again – from female singers whose voices were overshadowed by the huge popularity of Oum Kaltoum like Fathiya Ahmad and Marie Jubran, to great masters lost in the depths of time like Mohammad Al-Ashiq. AMAR also collects and preserves music traditions from diverse communities living within the Arab world including Syriac, Kurdish and Coptic music.
“We have lots of gems in our collection – unknown singers of high quality, some of whom we don’t know anything about but the names on the records,” Kassar says. “Lots of those singers, both women and men, are so precious, so genius that we are sorry we don’t know more about them, such as Asma el Koumsariya and Sulayman Abu Dawud.”
Surprising discoveries are still made. There were thought to be no known recordings of the pioneer singer Abdo al Hamili, considered one of the pillars of the modernisation of Arabic music because he died in 1900 a few years before the first 78rpm recordings. Yet two years ago the AMAR team found a few reels from the 1890s in Egypt and discovered his voice. SHARING THE ARAB WORLD’S MUSIC HERITAGE Egyptian oud player, composer and musicologist Mustafa Said is the director of AMAR. When he’s not touring the world with his group the Asil Ensemble, he’s at the foundation where he’s become the voice of AMAR’s weekly podcasts. Published on AMAR’s website, and on those of several cultural initiatives including the Sharjah Foundation as well as available to download on iTunes, each edition covers a particular artist, movement or era and attracts a global audience of 50,000 listeners. Through the podcasts, which have been running for three years, the Foundation has released over 500 pieces of music. In addition, AMAR publishes an annual CD set on an artist. This year the ‘Sultan of the Oud’ Muhammad al-Qasabgi was featured – known for his compositions for icons such as Oum Kaltoum and Asmahan, but less known for his own expert oud talents and avant garde instrumental music compositions.
“THE COLLECTION COULD INSPIRE LOTS OF CONTEMPORARY MUSICIANS TO DEVELOP ARABIC MUSIC WITHOUT RUSHING TO COPY WESTERN PATTERNS” AMAR also documents the artist’s stories through online bios and CD booklets. Many of the stories are just as incredible as the voices and give a valuable insight into the society of the time. Take Egyptian singer Munîra Al-Mahdiyya (1884-1965), known as the ‘Sultanat of tarab’. She came to public attention singing in the cabarets of Cairo district Azbakeya, in the early twentieth century. Joining the theatre troupe of Egyptian singer and composer Salâma Hijazi, she took his place when he became ill and, disguised as a man, became the first Egyptian Muslim woman to perform on stage. Other stories show the excesses and extravagances of high society – Abd al-Hayy Hilmi (1857-1912) walked out of concerts if he didn’t see a handsome face in the audience. A big drinker and drug taker – which he believed helped free his creativity to compose – he died, drunk in Alexandria after a meal of sea turtle. Today AMAR’s library is influencing contemporary Arab musicians. Acclaimed Lebanese sound artist Tarek Atoui has
introduced audiences around the world to classical Arabic music through his performance La Suite – a five hour-long piece inspired from research at the AMAR collection. “The collection could inspire lots of contemporary musicians to develop Arabic music without rushing to copy Western patterns like most of the musicians are doing presently,” Kassar says. With another CD release planned on Arab musical theatre pioneer, Salâma Hijazi, in 2017 and a major exhibition on Arabic music in preparation for 2018 in Paris, AMAR is continuing to shed light on this forgotten and neglected music genre and sharing the heritage of Arabic music all over the world. And in so doing it is helping to preserve the region’s cultural identity. amar-foundation.org
Interview by Ramsay Short Photography by Guillaume Ziccarelli
Good Dreams, Bad Dreams – American Mythologies presented by Tony and Elham Salame
Exclusively for A Mag, Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of New York’s New Museum and curator of the latest exhibition at Beirut’s Aïshti Foundation, discusses his brash new show bringing together over 56 artists and over 160 pieces from the Tony and Elham Salame collection, and its place chronicling the dramatic changes in the cultural and artistic history of America from the 1980s to today
Opposite: John Chamberlain, Pollo Primavera, 1982 (painted and chromium-plated steel); Dan Colen, Oh Wow! Oh No! Oh Boy! Ooh Lala! Okay!, and Oh Shit!, both 2011 (enamel on canvas) in situ at the Aïshti Foundation
“I often like to title my exhibitions from art works within the show: it’s a way to keep the art at the center of the conversation and also to let the art and the artists set up the atmospheres of the exhibition. In this particular case, Tony Salame has some great works by Allen Ruppersberg and I wanted to stress how unique and important they were. And Ruppersberg has been quite influential in the way he engaged with popular culture in his work, analysing it through its images and discarded materials, such as comics or books. It is an attitude which recurs throughout the exhibition, and for this reason I wanted to start from him. And most simply “Good Dreams, Bad Dreams” is just a good title: perfect to describe America, with its darkness and light, but also a very direct title that anyone can relate to. We all have good dreams and bad dreams.
“I frequently joke that working on a private collection is a bit like cooking with ingredients that someone else bought. Fortunately Tony is very good at getting great ingredients, so he makes the process of cooking fun, unpredictable and a nice mix of improvisation and preparation. Metaphors aside, the way I [select the artists and works] is a mixture of research and free association. On one hand, for this specific exhibition, I wanted to present some of the most important works in the collection, and I also thought it was important to showcase many important American artists who have never shown in Lebanon.
“Secondly, I wanted to offer a snapshot of American art of the last decade or so: in this sense Tony’s collection is quite remarkable as it really captures a moment in time. In particular, if you look at many of the NY artists, you get a very accurate picture of many of the problems, aspirations, desires, dreams and broken promises that have characterized art and life in New York since 2008 or so, particularly around the time of the economic crisis. In this sense I think the works of Nate Lowman, Klara Liden, Stewart Uoo, Dan Colen, Rachel Harrison, and Jacqueline Humphries, among others, offer a picture of NY art and life that is
quite unique. It is more incredible that such a collection is displayed and kept in Beirut, but that’s often the case: you need to change your perspective to understand better the place you are coming from. So you have to go to Beirut to see New York.
“A combination of factors led me to look into American popular culture through these artists’ reflections. First, Tony has been interested in American art for quite a while, so as I started to go through the collection I soon realised that there were significant holdings of important American artists – a theme that could be explored in an exhibition. Secondly, for many people like me who have moved to the United States or who have looked at the United States with a mixture of admiration, envy, desire and frustration, American art has appeared to be a vehicle in which many of these contrasting feelings have been given form
Below: Curator Massimilano Gioni posing next to Julian Schnabel, Painting for Malik Joyeux and Bernardo Bertolucci, 2006 (gesso and ink on polyester), at the Aïshti Foundation
“YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE TO UNDERSTAND BETTER THE PLACE YOU ARE COMING FROM. SO YOU HAVE TO GO TO BEIRUT TO SEE NEW YORK”
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and substance. Finally, it is no secret that historically Lebanon has had a complicated relationship with America – as many other countries in the world – so I thought it was particularly interesting to look at the ways in which contemporary American artists have created and criticized certain images of America, especially in a country in which those very images are often discussed, and equally criticized and longed for.
Above: Duane Hanson, Man on Mower, 1995 (bronze polychromed with oil and lawnmower); Untitled (Easy Rider), 2012 (fibre reactive dye on oxidised cotton fabric over canvas), and Untitled (Equinox), 2010 (fibre reactive dye on oxidised cotton textile) both by Piotr Uklański, in situ at the Aïshti Foundation Below: John Baldessari, Noses & Ears, Etc. (Part Three): Head (Section) with Nose and Ear, 2007 (wall painting with archival inkjet prints on canvas mounted on plywood and formica shapes)
“When working on a private collection, as a curator you know that every exhibition has to be a dialogue. Which doesn’t mean that it is a compromise or that Tony tells me what to put in the shows: he is an incredibly open and supportive person, so it’s really not his style to dictate conditions and first and foremost he himself wants to be surprised and excited by the art, so he takes a very open approach. What I mean is that a collection is always a self-portrait of a collector, so as I start selecting the works for the shows, I also want to make sure the personality and the peculiarities of the collection and the collector himself are there on view. There is nothing worse than a collection that looks soulless or average or similar to everybody else’s. So while I want the exhibition to be able to stand on its own, to make sense with its own narratives and with its own works, and be readable and approachable by a wide
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Above: Works including, left, Rashid Johnson, Root, 2012 (branded oak flooring, black soap, wax, and spray enamel); right, Theaster Gates, Civil Tapestry I, 2011 (decommission fire hoses and wood) in situ at the Aïshti Foundation Below: Sam Durant, I Don’t Believe In Nothing, I Feel Like They Ought To Burn Down The World, Just Let It Burn Down, Baby, 2010 (spray enamel on mirror and plywood)
audience who might not even know who Tony Salame is, well, at the same time, I also want the show to capture the energy, the enthusiasm, the electric charge that he has injected in the choice of works he has been acquiring and collecting. “Every exhibition is a conversation with the space. And we are very lucky because the Aïshti Foundation rooms are really spectacular to show great art
in. I particularly like how you move and flow from one space to the other, from smaller spaces to bigger spaces. And I like the quality of the light – both natural and artificial – of the materials, of the floors and walls. I am not saying this simply because Tony is a friend, but I don’t know many private foundations in the world – or as a matter of fact many museums and kunsthalles in the world – that have such beautiful, versatile spaces.
Above from left: Urs Fischer, Ground, 2011 (milled aluminum panel, acrylic primer, gesso, acrylic ink, acrylic silkscreen medium, and acrylic paint); Jacqueline Humphries, Untitled, 2012, (oil on linen); two works by Jacqueline Humphries, both Untitled, 2012, (oil on linen); Stewart Uoo, Donâ€™t Touch Me (Ghetto Goth), 2015 (polyurethane resin, Epoxy, ink, pigment, paint, wires, cables, clothing, accesories, ferrofluid, razor wire, steel, feathers, hair, make-up, glitter, eyelashes, cocoons, flies, and dust, all in situ at the AĂŻshti Foundation Left: Alex, Untitled (Self Portrait), 2013 (acrylic and bondo on fibreglass)
Left: Julian Schnabel, Painting for Malik Joyeux and Bernardo Bertolucci, 2006 (gesso and ink on polyester); centre, Sterling Ruby, Monument Stalagmite/Blac & Yellow, 2011 (PVC pipe, foam, urethane, wood, spray paint and formica); right, Alex, Sky Backdrop, 2012 (acrylic on canvas) in situ at the Aïshti Foundation Below: Richard Prince, Dear Mary, 2008 (1987 Buick Grand National and vinyl wrapping)
“When thinking of the layout of the show, I usually work on it for a few months. I work with a collaborator who makes a digital model of the space and of all the works we are thinking of putting in the exhibition. And then every week we meet for 4-5 hours and place things and move them and place them again and move them again. What you want to achieve is the juxtaposition of various great works with various narratives and suggest various themes that enrich the reading of the works. At the same time, you want each work to find the space to be itself. And then you want the viewer to walk through the space and – like in a good song or a good book or short film – you want the viewer to be seduced at one point, slapped in the face in another, be puzzled, or concentrated, and then bombarded with works, or left to contemplate something carefully and then made to question some choices and juxtaposition. “A great curator of the past – Harald Szeemann – used to say that an exhibition is a poem in space. I am not sure if I am good at writing poetry, but I think you do want to suggest narratives and stories and
connections, and at the same time let the art speak for itself. As a joke I say my motto is a sentence I saw once embroidered in the kitchen of an old bed and breakfast: a place for everything, and everything in its place.” “Good Dreams, Bad Dreams – American Mythologies” is at the Aïshti Foundation at Aïshti by the Sea until April 2017. aishti.com/foundation/collection
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Words by Kaelen Wilson-Goldie
Still from Black Friday, 2016. Sophia Al-Maria. Digital video, color, sound. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of The Third Line, Dubai
A MAG TAKES A TRIP THROUGH SELF-DESCRIBED ‘QATARICAN’ ARTIST, SOPHIA AL-MARIA’S FIRST SOLO EXHIBITION, BLACK FRIDAY, AT NEW YORK’S WHITNEY MUSEUM the Party” with a handful of high-rolling speakers who had been woefully out of fashion for years, and totally at odds with notions of austerity and recession that were creeping around the corners of the day. Oddest of all, however, was the sight, in 2010, of a young woman in a black flowing abaya, wearing seriously space-age sunglasses, drifting by as if she were either on roller skates or actually levitating, spouting witticisms as if through a vocoder, giving tours of the fair to a crowd of people trotting behind her, totally riveted. That particular vision was an apparition of Sci-Fi Wahabi, the fictional character or alter ego of the Qatari-American artist, writer, and filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria.
It is not at all uncommon to see some of the most uncommon things while stepping through the sales hall, every year, of Art Dubai, the Persian Gulf’s most prominent art fair. In the spring of 2008, the Pakistani artist Huma Mujli placed a sculpture of a taxidermy camel in a suitcase outside of the fair venue as part of the exhibition Desperately Seeking Paradise. (Dubai being nothing if not censorious, the piece was swiftly removed from view.) A year later, and seemingly oblivious to the financial crisis unfolding all around, the fair’s parallel talks program celebrated “The Art of
For years now, Al-Maria has been rather quietly putting in place an entire constellation of ideas about hybrid identities and layered experiences in the anxious, bombastic, high-tech gloom and doom of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. While much of the mainstream media has been happy to rely on the most tired of orientalist and consumer-crazed clichés to describe modern and contemporary life in the Gulf, Al-Maria has properly theorized the place — in literary, artistic, philosophical, and popular terms — in texts such as The Gaze of Sci-Fi Wahabi and concepts such as “Gulf Futurism,” which spoke to a generation of young people who managed, for example, to skirt the bizarre and restrictive norms of their society by making clandestine flirting a daring game of notes, mobile phones, and Bluetooth technology. In all media from essays to performances, installations, narrative films, and montages of found YouTube footage, she draws heavily and bravely on her own life and family — her father came from a Bedouin tribe, her mother
AL-MARIA DRAWS HEAVILY AND BRAVELY ON HER OWN LIFE AND FAMILY — HER FATHER CAME FROM A BEDOUIN TRIBE, HER MOTHER WAS AMERICAN, BLONDE, AND THEY MET IN SEATTLE
Still from Between Distant Bodies, 2013. Sophia Al-Maria. Video Installation on 2 cuboglass TVs. Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai
was American, blonde, they met in Seattle, where he had gone on a government scholarship and she had just returned to after trying out, unsuccessfully, for the Rockettes in New York — not least in her rollicking memoir, The Girl Who Fell to Earth, published in 2012.
Al-Maria has also been working on a feature film, a revenge fantasy called Beretta, which deals with the enormity of sexual violence in Cairo, where she went to university, and about which she has written several unforgettable vignettes (including one where for a hapless former boyfriend she stages the loss of her virginity with a bag of chicken blood taken from a local butcher). Her first exhibition anywhere, Virgin With a Memory, at Cornerhouse in Manchester in 2014, invited viewers into the putative headspace of the film, filled with outtakes, experiments, and other such materials and digressions. And while Beretta itself seems to lag forever in production, Maria is now having her first museum show in the United States. Black Friday, which is on view at the Whitney Museum through the end of October, takes as its subject the shopping mall (via the architect Victor Gruen) and the ways in which retail experiences are scarily orchestrated, engineered, designed, scripted, plotted, and planned. As a kind of counterbalance to its own theme, the show won’t overlap with the actual Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when consumers in America and increasingly all over the world go amok at
the start of their Christmas spending sprees. It is also being staged in a part of the museum’s gorgeous new building that is free and open to the public, and not only limited to members and ticketholders. And it says something crucial about the power of her insight and the sharpness with which she articulates her ideas that an artist until now largely associated with the Middle East is organising her most comprehensive show of work to date in an institution devoted, somewhat narrowly, to the past history and present ambiguity of American art.
But however ironic and astringently timely Al-Maria’s work may seem, it hides within it a certain tenderness (as seen in the absolutely lovely short video The Racer, about a young boy’s story and the propensity among adolescent men in the Gulf to do dangerous tricks with their cars for sport, Bluetooth-ing the footage to YouTube), a definite seriousness (in her concern, for example, for the ethics and politics of using found video footage of women and girls in the installation Sisters), and real conviction (in a short film from 2015 about the near extinction of the Arabian hunchback whale). Uncommon to be sure, but perhaps even more rewarding than usual in a new and seemingly far flung context. “Sophia Al-Maria: Black Friday” is at the Whitney Museum of American Art until Oct 31. whitney.org/exhibitions/SophiaAlMaria, sophiaalmaria. wordpress.com
Words by Grace Banks
ALL ABOUT THE GIRL
Bourgeois, Raouda Choucair, Delaunay... Tate Modern’s new Switch House extension in London is filled with female artists. But who’s behind it?
Hayes Davidson and Herzog & de Meuron
Opposite: The new Tate Modern extension Below: Saloua Raouda Choucair’s Poem 1963
In 1985 a rogue group of women artists clad in 99cent-shop gorilla masks blasted onto the scene with a pop-art poster that shouted: ‘Do women have to be naked to get into the met museum?’ The poster showed Ingres’s 1894 Grande Odalisque wearing the group’s trademark masks, which also went on to form part of their name, The Guerilla Girls. It’s the image they’re most famous for, but lesser known is that this poster was one of many that formed a smear campaign against America’s biggest art institutions. Another poster released in 1989 featuring a phallic Andy Warhol style banana read, ‘How Many Women Had One-Person Exhibitions in NYC Museums Last Year?’ It then listed the Guggenheim, Metropolitan, Modern and Whitney all with zero scores apart from the Modern. In the same year, ‘We’ve encouraged our galleries to show more women & artists of colour, have you?’ adorned posters which were strewn around New York. And yet, until recently The Guerilla Girls’s art activism, with the aim of increasing female artist presence in the city’s museums, was failing. 2016 tells a very different story. For the first time in the history of modern art women are getting the museum recognition they deserve. Their narratives are being spearheaded by a group of the Tate Modern’s new Switch House curators Jessica Morgan, Ann Coxon and Francis Morris. Opened to the public on June 14, the space designed by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed Miami’s Perez Art Museum, Prada Aoyama in Japan and the 2012 Serpentine Pavilion, is packed with female artists, from high profile to completely unknown.
“There are many women artists throughout the new Tate wing. Magdalena Abakanowicz, Phyllida Barlow, Marisa Merz, (Lebanon’s) Saloua Raouda Choucair and Ana Lupas are some examples of those I find most inspiring,” says Tate Modern curator Coxon, who led the programming of the new Tate wing and wanted to highlight the forgotten female names of art history. “We have taken some risks in our collecting history. We don’t care if artists are ‘new’ or young.”
Francis Morris, director of Tate, was responsible for the Louise Bourgeois room in the new wing. Morris has spent two decades bringing Bourgeois’s work to the fore. She brokered the relationship between Tate Modern and the Bourgeois estate that
“50% OF OUR MONOGRAPHIC, SINGLE-ROOM DISPLAYS ARE SHOWING WORK BY WOMEN” exists today. In 2000 she commissioned the artist’s Turbine Hall installation, and subsequent Tate collaborations made Bourgeois an international household name. Coxon curated the display in collaboration with Jerry Gorovoy, Director of the Louise Bourgeois studio and Easton Foundation and the art dealer Anthony d’Offay. “The works are mostly from the final two decades of Bourgeois’s life,” Coxon
says. “They are very powerful works, both physically and psychologically. In addition to a large central room, we made a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, full of maquettes, writings and small scale sculptures, which demonstrates Bourgeois’s exceptional output, her vocabulary of forms, and her life-long need to keep making.”
Alongside Bourgeois, works by Sonia Delaunay, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Agnes Martin, and Marlene Dumas patch together a female history of art that’s largely scrapped, swerved or rewritten. Daria Martin’s Birds stands out for its representation of youth chill in 2001, when the video was made. Post-millennium was an interesting time for young women, the Spice Girls were waning and all things cyber were swooping in, Martin’s video, featuring a group of ladies in faux futuristic outfits and metallic make-up, nods to that era and all the empowerment it offered women. Spotlighting these lesser-known
Left: Installation view of Artist Rooms: Louise Bourgeois Photo courtesy Tate Photography © The Easton Foundation Below: Tate Modern and new Switch House extension as seen from the north bank of the Thames
female artists was always the intention: “We have rehung all of our collection displays throughout the entire museum (Boiler House and Switch House); these new displays show how our collection has developed since Tate Modern opened in 2000, with approximately 70% of works on display having been acquired in the last 16 years. One of the priorities for the acquisitions strategy during that time has been to acquire more works by women artists. This includes both historic figures of the twentieth century and contemporary, living artists. We are now showing a much larger number of works by women, with 50% of monographic, single-room displays showing works by women.”
This strategy has been impactful, but it’s far from over. A 2013 survey by feminist organisation The Fawcett Society revealed that 78% of British galleries represent more men than women, while a 2015 survey by Art News showed that only 22% of solo exhibitions have been dedicated to female artists over the past seven years. Bubbling up is the harmful trend of art shows ‘dedicated’ to women. Charles Saatchi’s Champagne Life was a lesson in tokenism and was rightly criticised for its crass use of women as a trend. But Ann Coxon presents a completely different view of women, where they aren’t a trope but they’re a trajectory. In the same 6-month time span that Saatchi launched his show, Tate was scouring not just their archives, London or art capitals, but the
entire world for rare insights into art’s biggest movements provided by women.
“We want to show truly diverse art histories,” says Coxon. “A good example is Saloua Raouda Choucair, a Lebanese artist who just celebrated her one hundredth birthday and whom we discovered on a trip to Beirut.”
Before Coxon and her team found out about Raouda Choucair she was completely unknown in Europe, but that lack of fame didn’t matter to Coxon and pretty much summarises Tate’s approach: “We gave her an entire retrospective, just a couple of years ago”. For more info visit tate.org.uk
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Words by Michael Welton
How residential architects create homes that reflect their clients’ identities When it comes time to select an architect for a new home, most people will choose from two paths. One leads to a well-known name – a Frank Gehry or a Richard Meier, for example – for a commission that’s an extension of an established brand. The other is a far more personal journey with an architect who works collaboratively to discover the client’s distinct likes, desires and personality. The latter creates a home that reflects a client’s identity. Sure, the site plays a big role in its design, but the way the client lives, thinks and plays also defines the new residence. A good architect will curate a process leading to a one-of-a-kind home that defines who and what the owner is all about. Here four world-famous American architects, Frank Harmon, Tom Kundig, Peter Bohlin and Jim Cutler share their thoughts on how they arrive at the ideal residential design to mirror their clients’ personalities.
FRANK HARMON: RALEIGH, N.C. Harmon has practiced and taught in North Carolina and the American South for four decades now. He’s a modernist and a regionalist, but still, he views every project differently. He responds to a site’s physical location, its orientation to the sun and the source of its breezes – but he also looks closely at his clients’ wants, needs and budget. His design for a couple living on the coast of South Carolina was no exception. Limited by a modest $150,000 budget, he thought long and hard before arriving at a one-of-a-kind solution: a two-story house, half of it built of cost-cutting screened porches. “It’s relaxed, informal, friendly, and open to the world – like they are,” he says of his clients and their waterfront home. “It’s transparent, and very evocative of the kind of people they are – they’re not introverted.”
Richard Leo Johnson / Atlantic Archives
TOM KUNDIG: SEATTLE, WASH. Kundig is interested in doing personal architecture, much like a portrait painter. He tries to arrive at the spirit of the client – whether individual, couple or family – and then makes architecture out of that. “I’ll say I’m bringing my DNA but I expect your DNA to be part of it, and some reflection of you and your DNA will be in the building,” he says.
Benjamin Benschneider, Undine Pohl
In the case of his Chicken Point Cabin in northern Idaho, a challenging remark by his client led to its most striking feature. “The audacity of his statement led to the audacity of the idea,” he says. “Wouldn’t it be great,” his client asked, “If you could open up the entire front of your house to the landscape?” And so the architect did – adding a pivoting picture window that opens up to a majestic lakeside view.
PETER BOHLIN: WILKES-BARRE, PENN. All of Bohlin’s homes are different because of the nature of the people he works with and the places they choose to build. For each, there’s a technical, an intellectual and an emotional aspect – plus budget and timing. “And the place – where is it and what’s it like?” he asks. “It’s intertwined – all of that.” For the Davis Residence in Aspen, Colo., he wove together extraordinary views of meadow, forest and mountains, while accommodating his clients’ photography collection, love of cooking and sense of family. “There are two children that are growing,” he says. “They wanted a place to go to as a couple or with the children – so it’s a place for the family for the long haul.”
He toured an Oregon couple’s wooded site, taking note of an abandoned logging pond, and then placed their new home 200 feet away. To get to it, they park their car, walk along a trail through dark woods, then pop out into the light and cross a bridge to the house. “They got married at the pond with 150 people in the building,” he says. “It was drizzling, and the building was like a scoop – you could hear every word.”
Any home from Cutler, Bohlin, Kundig or Harmon won’t look like any other – but it will be designed within an inch of its life – to give its owners maximum pleasure for as long as they live there.
JIM CUTLER: BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WASH. Cutler requests that his clients write an architectural program using words and photographs, even asking them to add the things they hate so he’ll have a sense of what they’re comfortable with. “If that’s totally off with the place they’ve chosen, then I tell them,” he says. “If I see a common thread, I’ll follow that.”
DW5 Bernard Khoury, photos by Jon Shard
“A GOOD ARCHITECT WILL CURATE A PROCESS LEADING TO A ONEOF-A-KIND HOME THAT DEFINES WHO AND WHAT THE OWNER IS ALL ABOUT”
CLIENT-DRIVEN IN LEBANON Like their American counterparts, Lebanese architects work mightily to design homes that reflect the identity of their owners. But Lebanon’s temperate climate enables homeowners to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living – so client discussions often start with the use of those spaces, and the actual architecture evolves from there. “In Lebanon we have weather that allows us to break down the boundaries of inside and outside and create unique spaces that focus on the family and existing conditions,” says Raëd Abillama, principal at Beirutbased Raëd Abillama Architects.
His Fidar Residence, designed as a retreat on the water, is a beachfront house that focuses on the horizontal nature of the Mediterranean Sea. The client wanted something easy and low-profile for long weekends, but has adapted since it was built. “It’s very particular to what the client wanted,” he says. “He ended up using it much more than expected.” Bernard Khoury of Bernard Khoury/DW5 in Beirut prefers the word specificity to identity, saying that Lebanon has yet to come together on what, precisely, its own identity is.
That doesn’t stop him from working with clients to design homes specific to their personalities. One in particular (pictured above) was for a banker for whom he’d done commercial work. “I’d listen to his most capricious and basic physical needs – what he required for basic comfort or pleasure,” he says. The results? A bed below a roof that opens to the stars – and a balcony that lowers like an elevator to his poolside retreat. Not even the Americans can top that.
Words and photography by Johanne Issa
SIMULACRA As part of A Mag’s exclusive series of artist visions related to our theme each issue, photographer Johanne Issa explores impressions of truth, identity and the self through a sequence of portraits 320
“It all begins with the desire of wanting to create a portrait. Then there is a desire to erase what I am looking at and what is looking back at me in order to create an image of what disappears. No person is bound to a single identity. An identity for the subject is created through the portrait itself. The person in the portrait is no longer there; she is recreated. As we do not conform to a single, given image, our identity is much more complex, and so we cannot define it ourselves. Yet the identity of the subject is elusive, unattainable. I create and compose the portrait; I style the subject’s image. This is when the portrait takes on an identity of its own, true to this representation, this well-defined moment”
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Home at last.
LARIO SECTIONAL SOFA design by Antonio Citterio
OF EXQUISITE TASTE 328
Stimulating your senses and your style, A Mag brings together delectable dishes from Aïshti By The Sea’s new Urban Retreat Café with a selection of ornate jewels served on the finest tableware. What was it Mae West famously said? “I don’t ever worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number of carats in a diamond”
FOOD STYLING & PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARGARET STEPIEN
ART DIRECTION BY MARIA MAALOUF
Pols Potten lava stone bowl Beret Sea, Beret Marin, & Beret America Star rings by Tabbah
Daisy Love Earrings and Kiss Me Ring, both by Tabbah
XL Boom Bordo green marble plate, Martha Sturdy Boulevard white resin tray
Martha Sturdy Tori grey resin tray, Georg Jensen FORMA BLOOM cheese board, Zaha Hadid Rim Vessel black plate Flower of Eternity Pendant Necklaces by Mouawad
Martha Sturdy Tori white resin tray Bracelet by Yvan Tufenkjian
Atipico Slitta Carrara marble centrepiece, Martha Sturdy Rectangle tray in black and white mix Earrings by Yvan Tufenkjian, rings by George Hakim, Rosette collection ring by Mouawad Dish: Smorrebrod, crafted open Danish sandwiches served on a light sourdough rye bread (smoked salmon, roast beef, truffled asparagus, crab)
Bracelets by Buccellati, rings by Rosa Maria Dish: house-cured tuna, traditional Nicoise salad, soft henâ€™s egg, black olives, fine beans & roast vine tomatoes
Vintage necklace available at Sylvie Saliba
Rosette earrings by Mouawad, Serpenti rings and Parentesi ring by Bvlgari, PanthĂ¨re de Cartier necklace Dish: heritage beetroot salad, glazed goat cheese, red chicory, watercress, hazelnuts & toasted pumpkin seeds
LSA glass serving cups, Martha Sturdy Boulevard white and gray resin trays Sacred Window necklace by Ralph Masri, bracelet and ring by Azar, ring by George Hakim Dish: Urban Retreatâ€™s Sweets & Treats, rich chocolate pot salt caramel, hazelnuts & honeycomb
Chantecler bracelets available at Sylvie Saliba Dish: Asian spiced beef, mooli, courgette & pomegranate salad, chilli & lime dressing
Ring by Yvan Tufenkjian, vintage bracelets available at Sylvie Saliba Dish: candied pistachio, lemon & yoghurt-mousse pot
Necklaces by Rosa Maria Dish: crab & smoked salmon salad, fennel & radish, lemon dressing
Earrings by Azar Dish: Strawberry Eton mess cheesecake pot
Zaha Hadid Rim Vessel Narrow Cups, Sensual collection ring by De Grisogono, Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch, Chantecler bracelet available at Sylvie Saliba Dish: luxury seasonal exotic fruit platter with frozen yoghurt
ON FOOD What you eat makes you who you are says A Mag resident food columnist Dalia Dogmoch Soubra of Dalia’s Kitchen fame
My family and my home life on the whole was Syrian, but my friends, school and everyday life were extremely French and western. Being situated between these worlds as a kid was difficult and very tough to make peace with, but as I grew older it became a source of great strength. I learned to appreciate all this vibrant culture that I was exposed to, it gave me a less blinkered and more open-minded understanding of the wonderful world I resided in. And when it came to my love of food, I threw all that knowledge into my cooking.
For example, one of my favourite dishes, full of these mixed emotions and cultures, is Zaatar Chicken. It embodies the best of both worlds – a juicy, roasted chicken with crispy skin infused with the intense flavour of zaatar (thyme). I add lemon juice, garlic, black pepper and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. Mouthwatering. It’s a taste and smell that always takes me back to my Arab roots and yet also my childhood in Paris.
I remember walking back from school in those days and seeing chickens turning at rotisseries on street corners. At home I would arrive to my mother’s loving Middle Eastern cuisine, and we would eat “Jaj bil Forn” for supper often, roast chicken the Syrian way so distinctly different in preparation and flavour from the usual poulet rôti. My zaatar recipe is a further adaptation, which for me combines western and eastern flavours in perfect harmony. Tell me if I am wrong, but I absolutely assure you that once you try this recipe with its extra kick and that extra bit of flavour, you’ll never go back to a simple roast chicken again.
Food, Love & Life from Dalia’s Kitchen (CPI Publishing, 2013) is available in Beirut at Virgin, Librarie Antoine and Papercup and at various bookstores worldwide, as well as Amazon. For more on Dalia, check out daliaskitchen.com and visit her YouTube channel
SPATCHCOCK AU ZAATAR Serves 4 Prep time: 1 hour 10 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour
3 tbsp. zaatar (Middle Eastern herb blend, home made recipe), ¼ cup olive oil, 2-4 tbsp. lemon juice, 4 minced garlic cloves, ¼ tsp. salt, 2 baby chickens (about 2 lb. each), cleaned, and spatchcocked (see method below), cracked black pepper to taste, ¼ cup pomegranate seeds 1. Preheat oven to 200 °C.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the zaatar, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt into a thick paste.
3. Rub the spice paste all over the chickens and let them marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably longer.
4. Roast on a rack in the oven for 30 minutes uncovered. Reduce the temperature to 180 °C and roast for another 20-30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 77 °C (170 °F) in the thickest part of the thigh, and the juices run clear when pricked with the tip of a knife. Let it rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes before carving. Scatter the pomegranate seeds over the chicken. 5. Serve with a green salad or some roasted potatoes. Divine.
How to spatchcock a chicken Place the chicken on a board, breast side down. Using sharp kitchen scissors, cut out the entire neck bone and spine. Turn the chicken on the breast side, and press it flat with all your strength. Voilà.
Dalia Dogmoch Soubra/Food, Love and Life
I was born to Syrian parents who moved to Germany at a very young age due to the lack of opportunities back home. My parents became German nationals, though coincidentally I was born in London, and ended up with a British nationality. We moved to Paris when I was just two years old and I grew up in the City of Lights until I went to college in New York. Naturally with such a diverse background and upbringing, as a child I struggled with who I was. The one thing that always kept me grounded was food.
Where We’re Eating
Taqueria Del Jefe
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5pm to 1am, Sundays to midnight, Pasteur Street, Gemmayze, facebook.com/taqueriadeljefebeirut The taco enthusiast looking for the perfect blend of soft, juicy, and spicy, will find exactly that at Taqueria Del Jefe (right). This recently opened Mexican eatery in a cul-de-sac in Gemmayze serves a mean guacamole, their signature dip, with a combination of spices, fresh lime juice, red onions, and just the right amount of cilantro. The avocado seed is entrenched smack in the middle of the bowl for aesthetic and flavour effect, and the entire mouthwatering concoction is served with totopos, salty tortilla chips. The starter is best accompanied by their classic margaritas, strong and frosty, as they should be. The impeccably presented tostadas, which, like the tacos, are served on gluten-free dough, are rife with well-cooked black beans, corn, melted cheese, and lettuce, and are drizzled with sour cream. They’re messy to eat, but that makes the experience all the more enjoyable. The heftier part of the meal is the tacos, neatly wrapped and surprisingly non-greasy, though packed with the right amount of meat. Recommended are the tinga and brisket tacos, the latter being particularly spicy for those whose palates enjoy fiery beef. To soften the taste go for the delectable coconut and three-milk infusion, though the desserts differ on a daily basis. The entire eating experience is best enjoyed on a table outside, colourful lights hanging above you and traditional Mexican ballads playing in the background. – Rayane Abou Jaoude
Open daily 9am-4.15pm, 10 Rue Lamarck, Montmartre, +33 1 42 51 69 03 The Hardware Société is one of Melbourne’s most famous cafés and now it’s in Paris in Montmartre next to the Sacré Coeur, which is a good spot as you’ll be so hungry from climbing the hill you’ll happily order one of their calorie-full brunches. Inside it’s all Aussie-chic – butterfly wallpaper, Ton chairs, marbletopped guéridons – and the coffee as you’d expect from an Aussie-Parisian mix is exceptional. Stuff yourself with marvelous viennoiseries and pasties from Bo (served all day); or the lobster eggs Benedict with a squid-ink black bun and citrus-infused hollandaise sauce; or the French toast thickly spread with strawberry jam, chocolate ganache, fruit or toasted coconut. It’s insanely delicious, perfect for eating and people watching and you won’t want to leave. Did I mention the delectable bircher muesli with rhubarb, hazelnuts and dehydrated clementines…? – Goufrane Mansour
Al Mercato Burger Bar
Open daily, 12.30-3pm and 7.30-11pm, Via Sant’Eufemia, 16, almercato.it This might just be the best burger restaurant I’ve eaten in. And I’ve eaten in a few. From restaurateurs Beniamino Nespor and Eugenio Roncoroni, the ‘bar’ is on one side of the glass-fronted kitchen (which they share) of their original restaurant Al Mercato on the other. The tiny spot has tables for around 20 people at a squash and it’s a no reservations sort of place so turn up early before it gets packed or wait till late and nip in after the romantic couples and groups have left. You can taste their street-food inspirations in the choice of burgers, 200 grams of beef cooked to your taste dripping in salad, onion rings, cheese (Swiss/Brie/ Cheddar/Fontina/Zola), bacon, jalapeño jam and even hummus and foie gras – it’s up to you. Washed down with a Negroni this is dreamland. And as they love their street food, Beniamino and Eugenio offer not just burgers – their pulled lamb sandwich with babaganoush and lobster roll are just two of the alternatives that don’t disappoint. If in Milan, do not miss. – Ramsay Short
ON DRINK This issue, our drinks expert Michael Karam talks wine, whisky and identity – did you know there once was a Lebanese scotch from Sidon named Black Jack?!
It was on those travels that the Phoenicians gave the gift of wine to the known world. But even though we Lebanese were the first to make, bottle and sell it, wine still seems to bring out the very worst of our faux sophistication. For example, we think the local stuff is automatically inferior especially
to anything French. Wrong! And if the bottle has “Bordeaux” on the label then we are sent into paroxysms of ecstasy. We forget that Bordeaux is a region that makes 700 million bottles of wine a year, most of it pretty average.
Beer, we can do well, as recent craft incarnations, 961 and The Colonel, have shown. Spirits are trickier. We can get away with making vodka, it’s an international drink with many spiritual homes. Making a gin would be trickier – think London, Hogarth and botanicals – and whisky would be almost impossible.
Outside Scotland, only the US, Japan, Ireland and Canada are taken seriously, while the only whisky to come out of the Mid East is known for poisoning hapless European backpackers in Egypt, ironic given that it was the Arabs that helped perfect the distillation process. (Arak is Arabic for sweat as in that which is literally sweated out of the still. Didn’t know that did you?) But that was a long time ago. When I arrived in Lebanon in the early 90s, there was a ‘whisky’ called Black Jack ‘distilled’
in Sidon and often sold with a cheap cigar taped to the side of the bottle, a nice touch I thought. A few years later I met a shady businessman from Zahle, who bought bulk whisky from Scotland and bottled it for the Lebanese market. The whisky was called Jonathan Martin and came with a billboard campaign featuring a scantily clad lady cradling a bottle. Not very classy, but the stuff wasn’t bad and the case he gave me for offering a few ideas on what to call the French gin he was trying to shift didn’t last long. He should have known that the Lebanese are very fussy when it comes to booze in general and whisky in particular and ultimately there is something very touching about having Sunday lunch in a remote mountain village, as I often do, and seeing a litre bottle of Black Label as guest of honour in the middle of the table amid the mezze. It says a lot about how we won’t skimp on the things that give us pleasure. It’s how we roll.
Michael Karam is author of Wines of Lebanon. He tweets @lebanesewineman
VisualFix / Alamy Stock Photo
Who could have guessed that at a blind tasting in Paris in 1976, a flight of Californian wines would take on and beat a senior selection of Bordeaux and Burgundy? Yep, that was the moment when the wine biz tore up rulebook and the world’s drinks map hasn’t stopped changing since. Now you can sip very serious Japanese malt whisky; a stunning American gin and even a Lebanese Vodka: J2, named for the abbreviation of the JM-172 gene that originated between the Caucasus Mountains, Mesopotamia and the Levant before going around the globe.
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Where We’re Drinking BEIRUT
Capitole Open daily from 7pm to 3am. Asseily Building, Downtown Beirut, capitolebeirut.com When you’re a rooftop bar in Beirut and you’ve been bringing in the crowds for seven years, you know you’re doing something right. That doesn’t mean you don’t nip and tuck to keep in the game. So Capitole keeps Downtown on the map with a revamp of its lighting and furniture from of-the-moment Beirut designers PSLab and Bokja. Think low key, mood and colour-changing – stylish wall fixtures and overheads from the former, and bar stools and couches from the latter. The new 360-degree bar, whose neon lamps go from red to blue at regular intervals, adds more space this season giving you more chance of a spot if you’ve not made a reservation. Sleek, urban with perfect views over Beirut’s everchanging skyline, it’s still the perfectly blended drinks and lounge music (from rotating local and foreign DJs) that keep the bright young things coming in. Try the signature, to-die-for Gingertini, made up of saké, Kwai Feh Lychee liqueur, fresh ginger and cinnamon. Actually, try two. And if you’re going on the weekends get there early – Capitole gets packed. – Raseel Hadjian
Open daily till late, Gormannstraße 25, vins-cochonneries.com
Open daily till late, 269 E. Houston St, suffolkarms.com Open since late last year the Lower East Side’s Suffolk Arms is only now truly coming into its own, with a regular clientele and good vibrations. The cocktail pub from bartender/owner Giuseppe Gonzalez of Pegu Club and Dutch Kills fame features classic cocktails and new experimental creations from recognised mixologists – one my faves is from Gonzalez’s ‘new classics’ menu, the Jagerita (created by David Cordoba at 28 Hong Kong St Singapore in 2008) consisting of Jagermeister, Cointreau, Lime and an Open Mind – and gets super packed so get there early. Don’t’ miss the incredibly moreish Tough Room either, a blackand-white float of dark Guinness over a sweet whisky-sour stout made with blender-whipped egg white. Go with a group of friends and grab one of the old school English-pub style booths for a slowburn booze up buoyed by a soundtrack inspired by Gonzalez’s 1980s youth growing up in the Bronx. In other words hip-hop, reggae and punk and more, what’s not to love? – Felix El Hage
Germany’s (still) hippest city is going a bit mental for organic vino this summer and one of the best places to sample it is the class act that is Maxim in the ever-trendy Mitte. A fully-loaded natural wine bar only, the selection is magnificent and you can drink them by the glass or bottle while munching on a menu that includes braised beef cheeks, oysters, tartare and so much French cheese it’s unreal. Rieslings, Chardonnays (as well a range of Burgundys that are not ‘vin libres’) are all on offer, the décor is sleek with a Gatsby-era feel, huge wine racks and wood tables and clean lines. Drinking at the bar, during a tasting – definitely worth booking – we revel in the atmosphere as it moves from calm and collected to increasingly animated as the wines go down and the night crowd moves in. If you like your wine natural, no sulphur and less hangover, then Maxim is your Berlin spot. – Goufrane Mansour
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ON HAPPINESS Happiness in a four-letter word: DOGA. And it’s precisely what you imagine ― letting your canine chum lead you into a down-faced dog as only he/ she knows how. Guaranteed to leave you with hairs on your leggings and a smile on your face, or so says A Mag’s lifestyle expert Lucille Howe
In fact, dogs are so attuned to our nonverbal methods of communication, like voice tone and body language, that we connect with them on a deeper level. So, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d forgo the
guilt of leaving our best friends at home and invite them to join us for a new variation of mindfulness on the matt – DOGA.
In California, a company called Yogaforce noticed that a lot of poses in yoga are named after animals. Take the Eagle, Pigeon and Cat Stretch. So, they decided to launch a DOGA class, not intended to train your mutt, but to give you guys a chance to bond. At Downward Doggies in Australia, instructor Hannah Reed uses massage on pressure points to improve circulation and calm her hairy students.
Over the water, at Dogamahny in London, classes run at 90 minutes a time so I decide to take my dog, Buckley, to a ‘Taster and Sniffer’ session before I commit to a whole six-week shebang. Buckley is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog weighing 60kg, so I’m fairly worried about having her lie on me while I’m in Cobra and putting my back out, but luckily it doesn’t
come to that. Small dogs are used as weights for warrior while I lie close to Buckley and synchronise our breathing and heart rate. Big dogs can be used as the equivalent of those rectangular bolsters too, which comes in handy when I move into the side stretch known as Trikonasana. Chanting ‘Om’ leaves Buckley cold and performing bridge pose over the top of her resting lump seems to annoy her, and she moves to find her own mat. Still, teacher Mayny Djahanguiri is patient, and creative at adapting exercises, and the main thing is we all have fun. If we want to go next level mutt master then there is hundred-hour teacher training available but for the time being my happy hormones are raging and Buckley looks ready to nap. ‘Namaste’, bitches. Instagram @lucillehowe Doga by Mahny Djahanguiri is available online at Amazon
Any owner of a furry, fourlegged friend will tell you that life is better for having them around... aside from the time they ate your left flipflop and urinated on your duvet, that is. According to studies, dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression, have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease), higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax, and that owners over the age of 65 made 30% less visits to the doctors than their dog-free counterparts.
ON TRAVEL A Mag editor and unstoppable traveller, Ramsay Short, bemoans the lost art of travel as a characterand identity-building, purposeful experience
Getty Images, Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy Stock Photo
majority who travelled did it out of purpose not simply for leisure. Those who could would undertake arduous trips over long distances, perhaps to study other places, or explore new species, and find new ways of thought, new ideas, different ways of life to their own. As Daniel J. Boorstin writes in The Image, “Great stirrings of the mind have frequently followed great ages of travel… Travel has been the universal catalyst. It has made men think faster, imagine larger, want more passionately. The returning traveller brings home disturbing ideas.” This is certainly what happened during the Enlightenment.
Reading these it struck me that today there are few travellers but many tourists, ones who participate in a type of foreign travel that has ceased to be an activity and instead become a commodity. Is it perhaps because going abroad is
today easy and relatively cheap? That when we travel we prefer to stay in brand name hotels where everything is the same, that we simply now engage in planned sightseeing, shopping and packaged tours that involve paying a company or a person to make sure nice things happen to us. And when it’s not nice, when the hotel isn’t up to scratch for example, we are disappointed and complain. Where then is the personal growth and independent experience in that? Before the late 20th century, and the current ease of getting away, travelling was expensive and typically uncomfortable. The
Surely it’s better to be a traveller than a tourist, a spectator, staring out from a picture-book window at the natives, insulated from the landscape, the noise, the smells and the people, thinking about the ease of parking, the size of the hotel room and the convenience of the guide’s pit-stops? Ramsay Short blogs on travel @hiketothemoon and hiketothemoon.com
A recent look online at travel advice websites and social media revealed some fascinating insights into modern day travellers’ holidays, like: “The car park was a bit of a walk from the hotel”; “Good sized room but we were disappointed we didn’t have a bath, only a shower,” and “The tour guide didn’t let us stop for a cigarette break.”
Indeed whenever I go to a new city (or an old) for work or to discover, one of the first things I do is get lost. Any town with a good marketplace is a perfect place to start, an invitation to wander off and drop into shops, bookstores, buildings you’d never have found if you hadn’t taken that wrong turn. Take Marrakesh, I’ve enjoyed more cups of mint tea from strangers in the souk wandering lost than I would if I’d stayed on the well-trodden path. Or Vietnam and India where I’ve travelled by buses over bumpy roads to destinations that never arrive because the driver’s taken a detour to his mum’s; or by train to random stations and had to wait for hours for connections that are forever delayed, before the station manager invites me to stay the night and eat supper with his family.
Where We’re Staying
Villa Clara The gate is locked when I get back to the classically beautiful, home-away-from-home boutique hotel that is Villa Clara. There’s no one around. Admittedly it is 1am on a Monday. The first of two keys lets me into the front courtyard (no electronic swipe-cards here), all is quiet and I take the stairs on the side of the mandate period Beirut villa up to my room – No.6 of just seven. Inside, I pass out on the large, comfortable bed staring up at the antique Damascus chandelier and the stunning Joe Kesrouani framed photograph of Beirut. Bliss. Morning – well, 11am – sees me wander down to the terrace to find husband and wife owners Olivier Gougeon (who is also the chef) and Marie-Helene Mouawad, discussing preparations for a gathering in the restaurant later – to which they off-the-cuff and enthusiastically invite me; “It’s just a few good friends, it will be fun” – and I proceed to drink espresso after espresso, eat perfect fresh manoushie zaatar, a sweet yoghurt and cake for breakfast until I am ready to start my day. And yet, I end up not leaving at all… because Villa Clara (named after Olivier and Marie-Helene’s daughter) is that sort of place. On the edge of Mar Mikael, opposite a bullet-marked, run down building, Villa Clara, painted a deep blue on the outside and cluttered with original artworks and photographs inside, is one of the first and best boutique hotels in the city, and packed full of unique charm. Dining here is a must, Olivier’s kitchen a wealth of French cuisine mixed with a touch of Lebanese, fresh ingredients and bountiful tastes. In the evening I meet a French artist, a TV celebrity, the owner of a fine Lebanese vineyard and a couple of musicians, interior designers and writers… it feels as if I’ve known them all forever. Villa Clara is just that sort of place. – Ramsay Short
Mar Mikael, villaclara.fr
Elsewhere Secret location, Goa, India, aseascape.com We get the Google map coordinates for our destination on the coast of India’s once Portuguese colony of Goa only after we’ve booked and paid in full. From the airport we take a cab ride to the side of a dusty coastal road near Mandrem where, waiting for us there’s a boy holding a sign that reads “Take Me Elsewhere”. We jump out with our bags – we’re not carrying much, beach clothes, some books, there’s little or none internet connection here so we’ve left the laptops at home. We follow the boy over a bamboo bridge, through a creek, some coconut groves and there it is: acres of golden beach. Finally we’ve arrived at Elsewhere, an idyllic property made up of four secluded colonial buildings and three en-suite luxury tents. We stay at The Priest’s House, built by one Padre Luis Gonzaga de Santana Sequeira, who lived there until the late 1950s, a man who used his own canoe to cross the creek and say mass in the Mandrem Church. It’s beautiful, with four-poster beds, bathrooms open to the elements and plenty of open space. Our days are spent meditating, toes in the sand, or swimming in the perfect sea. Our nights spent dining alone or communally under a banyan tree, then dozing beneath the stars. Elsewhere is peace, romance, bliss wrapped up in one. And it is simply beautiful. – Goufrane Mansour
Kenshō Boutique Hotel & Suites It’s tough to find something more exclusive on the Greek isle of Mykonos than the new Kenshō, primarily because it’s made up of just 10 suites and 25 rooms, all uniquely designed. Whitewashed stone walls, stripped-wood floorboards and minimalist white furniture from the likes of Kenneth Cobonpue and Patricia Urqiola inspired by the picturesque and stunning landscape of Ornos Bay over which it looks, Kenshō also features stunning individual private plunge pools, a luxury spa, hot tubs and a gourmet restaurant serving locally caught fish as a priority. Padding around in our junior suite feels as if you’re alone in a James Bond villain’s island hideaway, every aspect is so perfectly taken care of. Kenshō is the find of the summer, next level relaxation and once there, leaving just won’t be an option – especially after you open the complimentary champagne on arrival. – Felix El Hage
Denzil Sequeira; DPoupalos
Mykonos, Greece, kenshomykonos.com
CAPTURING THE SELF
Swedish poet, playwright and artist August Strindberg took dozens of portraits of himself in the nineteenth century, taking on different characters and posing in different costumes, all dispositions of himself. He then proceeded to show these portraits to his friends, acquaintances, and peers. His argument was that only he could accurately capture his true self, believing that his self-portraits provided insight into his soul. “I don’t care a thing for my appearance,” Strindberg said. “But I want people to be able to see my soul, and that comes out better in my own photographs than others.” So how do photographers really see themselves? Some of Lebanon’s best (in A Mag’s humble opinion) discuss identity, how they define themselves, and what their self-portraits mean to them.
All images by the artists
Words and interviews by Rayane Abou Jaoude
Hage is an art photographer who grew up in Beirut and studied at the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik. One of his most notable works, Ici et Maintenant (Here and Now), looked at post-war Lebanon through the documentation of a thousand Lebanese individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 in 2005. He’s been shown in cities as varied as Beirut, London, Munich, São Paulo and many others. He currently teaches at USEK, ALBA and the University of Balamand.
“Identity is our culture, our experiences; identity is what makes a community unique and what makes a person in a community unique. This selfportrait does not represent who I am, it was taken while performing a lighting rehearsal. How do I define myself? You’d better refer to my shrink.” gilberthage.com
“I Hated You Already Because Of the Lies I Had Told You” 2011, 110x110 edition of 5 +2 AP, pigmented print on fine art paper. Courtesy of the Artist and Gallery Tanit
Tabet is a contemporary photographer and video artist living in Beirut. She grew up between France and Lebanon and studied in Montpellier before moving back to the Lebanese capital. Her work focuses on the urban landscape and its relationship with human trajectories, as well as studies on memory and loss. Outside of Beirut she has exhibited from Paris to Brussels and Italy to Taiwan. “Identity is a social, psychological and philosophical construction that happens throughout a lifetime. It’s a process that roots you to the core of who you are as much as it transforms you. I am a human being who doesn’t like to be categorized. This self-portrait shows me as being present without showing too much of myself, with elements of inspiration, light, shadows and the organic matter.” carolinetabet.com
Ombres Projetées, 2011
NADIM ASFAR Asfar is a Lebanese photographer and filmmaker who divides his time between Paris and Beirut. He attended the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts and went on to study at the École Nationale Louis Lumière in Paris. One of Asfar’s most popular exhibitions, Constellations, consisted of a series of photographs he took from his balcony, arranged into a grid of 35 images. He usually photographs his shadow rather than himself, and admits that it hasn’t been easy for him to photograph faces over the last several years. His work has been exhibited in Beirut, Paris, New York, Berlin among other cities.
“The concept of identity is a constant quest, a research. It is like time, elusive and very distinct, balanced by movement and stability. This self-portrait, like any photograph resembles a shadow even if it shows a real subject. It is always an imprint, a surface of things, an attempt to represent, it has something ghostly, a fragile presence. Shadow is the uncanny, meaning the apparition of what is strange in the familiar. It is something that interests me a lot in my process.” nadimasfar.com
Multiple Ain Hersha, Hermon, 2015
Mohdad was born in Lebanon and studied at the Saint-Luc Ecole Supérieure des Arts in Belgium. He began working on images of the Lebanese Civil War for Paris-based photojournalism agency Vu in 1988, and by 1997 had founded the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to collect, preserve and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora. His photography has been shown in Beirut, Doha, Berlin, Lausanne as well as numerous other cities.
“Identity is a name we give to a newborn baby that corresponds to a number in the register of a population. With time, it would converge toward Socrates’ expression when a youth: ‘Know thyself’. Myself, I am a free atom, until a certain point. Again, related to Socrates’ statement at the end of his life: ‘I know that I know nothing’. When my name was translated from Arabic to a western language, suddenly, it went out of its original context and created total confusion. People were not able to connect the name with the person. This photograph (below) is of kids playing football that I made in Yemen, at Marib’s remains of the sun temple of the Saabean Kingdom in 1994. This iconic image became the face of my work, when people perceive it they immediately recognise the person behind the camera.” mohdad.arabimages.com
Mes Arabies, Remains of the Sun Temple of the Sabaen Kingdom, Marib, Yemen, 1994
Kahil is a Lebanese photographer currently living and working in London. She studied at the Royal College of Art and uses photography, text, video and installation in her practice with a focus on the body as a space for personal explorations and the investigation of displacement and social identity. Her work has been exhibited in Beirut, London, Taipei, Istanbul and more.
“Identity is the sum of experiences that make up a life. It is the cities you’ve lived in that have shaped you, the books you’ve read that have etched in your mind, the movies you’ve seen that made you cry, the bullies at school that made you stronger, the lovers in youth that made you weaker, it is close friends and distant family, faded memories from pre-school, jobs you got fired from when you hated your boss, the music you listened to that make up your personal soundtrack, and childhood expectations that slowly dissipated when real life kicked in. Defining myself would be boring. This self-portrait was my very first taken in 1998 with my father’s Canon A1 camera, an eighteenth birthday present. Being eager and curious and excited, self-portraiture was an easy tool for experimentation, and the practice has become the blueprint for most of the art series I’ve worked on since.” rashakahil.com
The White Room, 2012
Words by Ramsay Short
THE LAST PAGE WITH… JUERGEN TELLER This image from über-photographer and A Mag favourite Juergen Teller’s latest exhibition, Enjoy Your Life, at the very unique Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn is from his series, Mit dem Teller nach Bonn and Plates/Teller. The German word for plate is teller and you might argue the plate acts as a synonym and stand-in for the photographer. The reason we love it – apart from the sense of exuberance and humour it conveys – is because the original image on the plate is one of Juergen and transgender model Tschan Andrews (who’s also the person holding the plate), featured exclusively in Aïshti’s very own limited edition art book Salame by Juergen Teller. “Enjoy Your Life” runs until 23 September, bundeskunsthalle.de
“Everything in a wide sense is a kind of self-portrait. It’s just the way you see things and you’re curious about certain things and just excited about them,” says JT.
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