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Carla Daher. Marc Jacobs. Kour Pour. Bjรถrk. Habib Battah. Sebastiรฃo Salgado. Karine Tawil. Remo Ruffini. Lara Khoury

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86 No.

December/January 2016-2017


The Bold Issue


FRONT / 50 Who’s Who / 52 Editorial Introduction The inspiration behind this issue /

54 Contributors A brief selection / 56 Fortune Favours the Bold Fearless Lebanese (and Syrian) creatives / 70 The Edit Where we’ll be this winter/ 84 Exhale Spinning by the sea / 90 The Fashion Show On the runway and behind the scenes / 106 The

Scene Yoga in an unlikely place / 110 Objects of Desire Shoes, bags, sunglasses and

more / 120 In the Studio with Omar Rahbany / 130 Trends Looks, ideas, accessories

/ 138 Dossier I Marc Jacobs is not afraid to shock / 142 Muse The ageless women

of fashion / 150 Dossier II Jared Leto talks Gucci / 158 Starburst Glittering holiday

gems / 170 Subject In conversation with Zeina Daccache / 174 Dossier III Bosaina

challenging the status quo / FASHION / 178 Colour My World Photography by Tony

Elieh / 200 Bee Gee Goes to the Gym Styled by Amelianna Loiacono, photographed

by Marco Pietracupa / 214 Lost in Space Photography by Johanne Issa and styling by Pia Atallah / 220 A Walk in the Park Bee Gee on a stroll through Horsh Beirut / 232

Models with Attitude Lea and Carla by Jeremy Paul Bali, styled by Amine Jreissati /

December/January 2016-2017

248 At the Double Lea and Marc André by Marco Pietracupa, styled by Amelianna

Loiacono (cover shoot) / FEATURES / 268 “I Like Bestiality” Björk and her animal

instinct / 274 Scaling New Heights How Remo Ruffini pushed Moncler forward / 280 Brave New Design The rise of Beirut collectives / 290 Exodus Sebastião Salgado’s

seasons of migration / 296 LA Transplants Exploring Los Angeles with Kour Pour / 300

The Beirut City Museum Giving the city back to the people / 304 Fight Club Azadeh

Razaghdoost’s raw display of emotions / 312 Life in an Instant An artistic vision by

Zeina Shahine / OPINIONS / 330 On Food Dalia Dogmoch Soubra on date, pecan and pear stuffed turkey / 331 Where We’re Eating / 332 On Drink Michael Karam on

drinks for the festive season / 334 Where We’re Drinking / 336 On Happiness Lucille Howe on calming apps / 337 Where We’re Detoxing / 338 On Travel Ramsay Short on disconnecting during the holidays / 339 Where We’re Staying / THE END / 341 I’ll Be

Your Muse Designers dressing their inspirations / 352 The Last Page on... Throwing



THE house party

On the Cover Bold, bright and beautiful, our cover girl Lea Rostain wears

clashing prints, patterns and colours

and flaunts strong blue eyeliner. Shot in Beirut by talented photographer Marco Pietracupa. Her look is by Balenciaga /

Carla Daher. Marc Jacobs. Kour Pour. Björk. Habib Battah. Sebastião Salgado. Karine Tawil. Remo Ruffini. Lara Khoury

no.86 Dec '16/Jav '17 LL10,000

Styling by Amelianna Loiacono / Hair &

make-up by Maria Rosa Cesardi

CAPTIVATING WHISPERS A warm red coral meets a mystic emerald flower.

Downtown • Sassine • Aishti By The Sea | 01 981 555

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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 Senior Editor Nadine Khalil

Associate Editor Rayane Abou Jaoude

Coordinating Editor Stéphanie Nakhlé 50

Assistant Editor Léa Christine Rahme Digital Editor Dana Mortada

In House Fashion Photographer Raya Farhat Senior Photographic Editor Fadi Maalouf

Feature Photographers

Shiva Balaghi

Rami Hajj

Contributing Writers Grace Banks

Claudia Croft

Ana del Piero

Dalia Dogmoch Soubra Stephen Doig Felix El Hage

Lucille Howe

Michael Karam

Goufrane Mansour Victoria Moss

Stephanie Rafanelli Pip Usher

Fashion Photographers Jeremy Paul Bali Johanne Issa

Marco Pietracupa

Tony Elieh

Tarek Moukaddem Marco Pinarelli

Ieva Saudargaitė Zeina Shahine Stylists Pia Atallah

Amine Jreissati

Amelianna Loiacono Advertising Director Melhem Moussallem Advertising Manager Stephanie Missirian

Chief Marketing Director Karine Abou Arraj Printing Dots: The Art of Printing

Responsible Director Nasser Bitar

140 El Moutrane St., Fourth Floor, Downtown Beirut, Lebanon tel. 961.1.974.444,,

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Editorial Introduction Bold. To be bold is to be fearless and adventurous; to dare; to be brave; to be clear and to be courageous. Bold is Habib Battah. Bold is Joumana Haddad. Bold is Ieva Saudargaitė. Bold is Carla Daher. Bold is Lea Rostain. Bold is Renzo Piano. Bold is Lara Khoury. Bold is Kour Pour. Bold is Zeina Daccache. Bold is Omar Rahbany. Bold is Aïshti. Bold is Zeina Shahine. Bold is Rania Naufal. Bold is Caline Chidiac. Bold is Jared Leto. Bold is Hania Bissat and Alissar Caracalla. Bold is D Beirut. Bold is Gucci. Bold is Joe Kodeih. Bold is Nada Sehnaoui. Bold is Hello Psychaleppo. Bold is Tarek Moukaddem. Bold is Mélanie Dagher. Bold is Remo Ruffini. Bold is Marc Jacobs. Bold is Björk. Bold is Anna Dello Russo. Bold is Bee Gee. Bold is Catherine Baba. Bold is Marco Pietracupa. Bold is Maria Maalouf. Bold is Loulou de la Falaise. Bold is Iris Apfel. Bold is Sebastião Salgado. Bold is Aïshti by the Sea. Bold is Huguette Caland. Bold is Bosaina. Bold is Marfa. Bold is Gaia Repossi. Bold is Azzi & Osta. Bold is Karine Tawil. Bold is Johanne Issa. Bold is Rayya Morcos. Bold is Hadia Sinno. Bold is Raya Farhat. Bold is Renzo Piano. Bold is Jeremy Paul Bali. Bold is Azadeh Razaghdoost. Bold is Karim Bekdache. Bold is Amine Jreissati. Bold is Sarah Trad. Bold is Maria Hibri. Bold is Tony Elieh. Bold is Tina Pakradouni. Bold is Urban Retreat. Bold is Eric Jureidini. Bold is Roger Moukarzel. Bold is Cherine Magrabi. Bold is Doreen Toutikian. Bold is Rami Boushdid and Karl Chucri. Bold is Rima Rabbath. Bold is Amelianna Loiacono. Bold is Hussein Bazaza. Bold is Marco Pinarelli. Bold is Rami Hajj. Bold is Zena Farhat. Bold is Pia Atallah. Bold is Valerie Abou Chacra. Bold is Danielle Salameh. Bold is Guillaume Crédoz. Bold is Beirut. Bold is Tony Salamé. Bold is Issue 86 of A Mag. Bold is you. Bold is me. May your 2017 be as bold as can be. With Love… Ramsay Short @ramsayshort



Marco Pietracupa Photographer Marco Pietracupa describes himself as a free-thinking perfectionist who throws caution to the wind. In the early 90s, he moved to Milan and studied at the Italian Institute of Photography. Whether his subjects are fashion models, prostitutes or his own family, his signature hard flash reveals their unexpected beauty as he dresses them with stories. He says the boldest thing he’s ever done is “photography and art.” Did anything surprising happen on his shoots for this issue? “I remember there were boobs everywhere!”

Shiva Balaghi Writer Shiva Balaghi, Ph.D., is an independent scholar and curator focused on contemporary Middle Eastern art. On living a bold life in the art world, she wrote: “Last night as I was falling asleep, I read a piece on the late great filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. He advised young directors making films: ‘Don’t fall into doubt. If you see something you like, capture it.’ It’s good advice for all of us creatives. It’s good advice on life.”

Ieva Saudargaitė Photographer Architect-turned photographer Ieva Saudargaitė investigates territories and daily phenomena in her work. Her opening shoot of bold creatives (p.56) meant stepping out of the comfort zone, and was performative in nature: “With some, we even managed to do something for the first time, like step into the pool fully clothed, or sit in the dark of a dirty workshop…The choice of locations was driven by the will to use Beirut as a backdrop because to me, the act of being bold isn’t only about the interaction with the unknown, but also very much about embracing the here and now with all its imperfections, while bringing out the better qualities that others couldn’t see.”

Marco Pinarelli Photographer Marco Pinarelli says the boldest thing he’s ever done should be censored. However, the second boldest was when he photographed a cave while suspended in the air, on marble blocks attached to a crane. A former finance lawyer, he decided to pursue photography seriously at ICP in New York – as a child, his amateur photographer father inspired him to get behind the camera. He’s shot for magazines such as AD, Vogue, and Elle Décor (Italy). How does his photoshoot of yogis in BO18 for A Mag (p.106) relate to our theme for issue 86? “The strong contrast between the smell of alcohol in a closed bar and the images of the practitioners.”




“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” tech executive, activist and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg asked graduates when invited to give the commencement speech at a US college, before promptly telling them, “Go do it.” At A Mag that’s the sort of advice we think is worth taking. Venturing beyond the beaten path needs guts. You must be fearless, aim high, speak your mind, and believe in order to get things done. You must be bold. For this issue, we celebrate the Lebanese (and in one case Syrian) activists, artist, journalists, musicians, entrepreneurs who have jumped all obstacles to express themselves, to do what they want, to make their mark. Photographed by architect, photographer and Beirut resident Ieva Saudargaité, we discover what it takes to be who you want to be and do what you want to do Photography by Ieva Saudargaité

Words and interviews by Rayane Abou Jaoude


JOUMANA HADDAD Writer/Human rights activist

Staunch feminist, activist and founder of erotic magazine Jasad, Joumana, 46, is regularly dubbed one of the most powerful women in the Arab world by the press. Her book I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman garnered her praise internationally and death threats locally for its unflinching and provocative portrayal of the odds stacked against Arab women. But she never wavers. “Passion,” she says, “gets me up in the morning. I do what I do to stay alive.” For her, it’s not misogyny but the confessional system that is the biggest hindrance to Lebanese society and her favourite Lebanese icon is someone who moved beyond that, Sabah. “She had the guts to be herself and to live the way she wanted to, despite any judgment.” Word of advice? Dare What do you want written on your tombstone? No tombstone please. I want to be incinerated

JOE KODEIH Actor/Dramatist

Joe, 49, was the first Arab writer and director to perform on an off-Broadway stage in 2003 with his controversial play The Middle Beast. A sense of humour and never say die attitude drive him to work: “I am up to many, many things at the moment, some of them are extremely naughty. I can’t tell you what gets me up in the morning though… I am bit shy.” Yeah right… Joe’s heroes are the wrestlers Cain Velasquez and Ronda Rousey, and Lebanese clairvoyant Leila Abdellatif. His humour does stop somewhere – kind of. “I will not insult my audience,” Kodeih says. “Unless the character I am performing requires it.”

What is the biggest problem we face in contemporary (Lebanese) society? Greed and ignorance... and bad architecture If you had to be locked in a Beirut building overnight, which would it be? Sama Beirut. It will enhance my cardio rate and once at the top, I will have the rush of a sniper




Painter/Installation artist/Beirut Madinati candidate There was nothing bolder than artist Nada, alongside 23 more of Beirut’s most talented filmmakers, architects, professors, and civil society activists, creating the Beiruti political party Beirut Madinati to run in municipal elections in May 2016. “The lack of free choice is a major problem here in Lebanon. We are the obedient and docile prisoners of our confessional political system… but so far, we as a people, do not believe that we deserve this kind of freedom of choice,” she says. Nada is not afraid of challenging the status quo, whether through her large-scale installations and paintings or her political activism. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she truly admires Syria’s volunteer civil defence organisation The White Helmets – “the unknown people who believe they can make a difference in a hopeless situation.” Still, it’s the “daylight filtering through the blinds” that gets Nada up in the morning. Turning point in your career? In 2001, when I took my work from the gallery space to the public space What do you want written on your tombstone? “Gone looking for a planet with less gravity.”


Samer Saem Eldahr AKA Hello Psychaleppo Musician

Hailing from Aleppo, 27-year-old Samer has in recent years become an electronic sensation, playing numerous venues in Beirut and abroad, most notably the Roskilde Festival 2016 in Denmark, a turning point in his career. Currently working on his third album, titled Toyour/Birds and slated for release at the end of 2017 he says, “I do what I do to preserve the Arab culture and its rich music, using modern tools to connect the younger generation to our music theory and heritage.” His Arab music hero? “I’ve been admiring Palestinian singer/ songwriter Mohamed Ghazi recently. I don’t have much information about the artist, but I know that he used to teach “Muashahat Andalousiye” and Arabic language to Fairuz. The guy was a genius.” What’s your approach to fashion? I’m a nerd/gangster/ elegant looking kind of guy, who’s really into detailed patterns. Recently, black has been the colour for me. Intentionally wearing and seeing that colour outside of my head has made me accept my ever-going grief The biggest problem we face in contemporary society is… Ignorance and not being willing to understand the “other”




Bookseller/Owner of Papercup There were two moments when it all made sense for Rania – “Working at Zoetrope: All-Story, Francis Ford Coppola’s magazine in New York, that changed my life. And opening Papercup, which was the fulfilment of a dream.” That occurred in 2009, in what was then a quiet residential neighbourhood with little, if any footfall. It took guts, incredible self-belief and determination to succeed and become a pioneering store in the now hip district of Mar Mikhael. “Papercup works because it’s about the experience of the space, the experience people have when they come in,” she says. “I created a place where I like to hang out and be cosy, and it turns out a lot of other people feel the same way.” As might be expected, Rania has bold opinions and bold plans: “The best food I’ve eaten here is at Halabi. Say what you like but the only food we really do well here is Lebanese. I’m planning a little publication on the side – A Mag you’ve got competition.” Name something you will never do for the sake of your work? Sell Paulo Coelho books. Never going to happen Words of wisdom Follow your gut and don’t listen to anyone else. If I’d taken other people’s advice, Papercup would not exist


HABIB BATTAH Investigative journalist

37-year-old Habib is a veteran Middle East reporter having written for major local and international publications, and a dogged pursuer of corruption and wrongdoing in the highest echelons of power. “I feel like there’s such a huge need for investigative reporting in this country,” he says. “Right now I’m writing a piece on the intersection between real estate, politics and archaeology,” and it is this daily calling to report and investigate that drives him. “Everyday is an act of subversion. Writing and investigating in Lebanon is a constant act of subversion.” But he still has time to look into the best places to eat Lebanese food: “There is this tiny fisherman’s restaurant in Tyre. It serves the best fish, tabbouleh, and spicy diced potatoes around.” Turning point in your career? Winning the Samir Kassir Award twice. That’s when I realised I was going to stick to journalism Word of advice? Don’t give up, change is slow by nature and that’s the way it’s always been. Be critical but always look for people who are doing admirable work




CALINE CHIDIAC Optometrist turned DJ

Superstar Lebanese DJ, Caline, 42, plays music because she can’t help it. “It feels right at that point in my life. My greatest love is music, it caters to my every emotion,” so playing it to others comes naturally. Caline’s icons are “Lebanese mums, for what they represent, aim and achieve,” but she believes that ego is the country’s biggest threat. Her advice to us attempting to achieve our dreams: “Therapy for me was a great adventure, I would advise everyone to go through it.” Home is... What I want to come back to What will you never do for the sake of your art? Step on someone’s foot to achieve my goals, that line I will never cross

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Gold Standard____ New York-based sculptor-turned-jeweller David Yurman is best known for his twisted cable-inspired jewellery. As the story goes, Yurman crafted a ‘Dante’ necklace in 1970 for his then-girlfriend, Sybil, a painter (now his wife and co-creator), which was spotted by a gallery owner, who loved it and asked if it was for sale – and the rest is history. For the Solari collection, he’s made the signature cable much thinner but we love the sculptural feel of the pieces, now available at Aïshti by the Sea. The spheres you see in the cluster rings and bracelets are crafted in 18K yellow gold with orbital bands of micro-pavé diamonds – find your perfect pair for that holiday sparkle.

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Sexual Politics at the Photographers’ Gallery ____ Remember the Second-Wave feminism movement or groups like WAR (Women Artists in Revolution)? If not, you’ll learn about them at Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s: Works from the Verbund Collection, the current exhibition in London’s Photographers’ Gallery. 150 works by 48 artists including photographs, collages, performances and films are on view with standout pieces from Cindy Sherman and Francesca Woodman. Also look out for powerful pieces from artists who pushed themselves to the limits of physical endurance, like Karin Mack’s Zerstörung einer Illusion (left) and Francesca Woodman’s Self-deceit (right). Expansive and groundbreaking. DIFF goes virtual____ This year’s 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival, celebrating Arab and international cinema alike (running through 7-14 December at Madinat Jumeirah), features a brand new section designed to show how movie-making is travelling into a new age. DIFFerent Reality is showing a series of virtual reality films from around the world that push the boundaries of immersive storytelling through the genres of fiction, documentary and animation. Says DIFF’s chairman, Abdulhamid Juma, “VR gives filmmakers a new, immersive medium which is an exciting new direction for cinema and our compelling and engaging line-up of VR films push the technological boundaries of storytelling.” We’re excited too. Immerse yourself in sound ____ If you’re into good sound you’re into Bang & Olufsen. The speaker and amplifier brand create beautiful objects known for their sculptural, polished feel, pristine sound quality, and minimalist aesthetic – making them more than just high tech stereo equipment and part of the room. Their latest portable wireless speakers, BeoSound 1 and 2, in unobtrusive aluminium are no exception. Use 1 if you are mobile – it has a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 16 hours – and 2 if you want a more powerful sound (it needs to be plugged in). Built in a conical form to provide a 360-degree sound experience, they project sound from their open top giving you incredibly high quality acoustics, and they look more like lighting installations than speakers. Highly tactile, you can swipe left or right on the top to change the track, or turn the rotating rim to adjust volume. Plus, they have inbuilt proximity sensors. Music never sounded so good.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/Karin Mack/Francesca Woodman/Shutterstock


Eco-Cool at Berlin Fashion Week____ Step aside Paris – January’s fashion week in Berlin (17th-20th) is set to rock the foundations of the Brandenburg Gate with its themes of innovation, green fashion and eco-design. With catwalk shows, trade events and more happenings, many in fascinating public locations like the capital’s U5 train line, highlights include the Green Showroom and the Ethical Fashion Show, as well as German designer Michael Michalsky’s StyleNite, the hot ticket event of every BFW, featuring performances over the last few years from the likes of Lady Gaga, Alphaville and Marina and the Diamonds. Berlin, setting the trail for others to follow in 2017.

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the edit Jazz and dress in the 1920s____ The 1920s – the cool period that came in between decades of horror and catastrophe (the world wars, the Great Depression and Fascism). It saw a seismic shift in the social status of women, one when viewed through a sartorial lens can be seen clear as day. 1920s Jazz Age Fashion & Photographs, an exhibition at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum running through 15 Jan, captures the clothing in context. Laid out as a day in the life of a busy, and it has to be said relatively wealthy woman, we follow mannequins in different looks, illustrating women’s newfound freedoms of the time. A crisp white tennis outfit shows how active women were becoming; dresses with fringing to exaggerate movement highlight the importance of dance. Velvet capes, beaded eveningwear and silk pyjamas reveal all the glamour and excess that the Roaring Twenties ushered in. It’s a beautiful show, depicting a fascinating period with over 150 simply stunning garments and incredible original photographs from the likes of Cecil Beaton, Man Ray, Baron de Meyer and the one shown above, Dolly Sisters (1923) by James Abbe.

Courtesy of James Abbe Archive


The Rainbow Serpent comes alive in Australia____ Australian Aboriginal mythology speaks of the Rainbow Serpent, a deity that’s both a giver of life and a destructive force and the four-day Rainbow Serpent Festival from 27-30 January in Victoria is a modern day celebration of this mythical being. Think entrancement, art, healing and the nurturing of a spiritual connection with the earth as well as much dancing – after all, the Rainbow Serpent’s tales, Dreamtime stories, have always been told by the Aboriginals through dance. 2017 is the 20th anniversary of the festival and the musical line-up includes minimal techno and psychedelic trance from the likes of Dusty Kid, Hallucinogen, Mathew Jonson and Solar Fields. Tomorrowland and Burning Man pale in comparison. Let’s celebrate the new year in the land down under. Repossi x Koolhaas at Place Vendôme ____ Gaia Repossi has made waves with her bold jewellery lines since taking over the family business in 2007 – we love her ear cuffs and stacked rings and the way she is influenced by contemporary art and architecture, from Bauhaus to Brutalism, Richard Serra to Alexander Calder. Now she’s celebrating with a new futuristic flagship store in the Place Vendôme in Paris, designed by none other than starchitect Rem Koolhaas. Here you can check out Repossi’s recently launched chandelier-like earring line, Suspensions, and her Lateral collection with its emerald-cut diamond earrings, as well as the Serti Sur Vide floating diamond collection with one-of-a-kind pear-shaped pink and blue diamonds. If going to Paris feels like a trip too far, you can find Repossi’s incredible collections in Beirut, exclusively at the Sylvie Saliba store.,

Fondation Louis Vuitton/Martin Argyroglo/Francesco Vicenzi

Modernist Masters at the Louis Vuitton Foundation____ By the end of the 19th century, Moscow textile merchant Sergei Shchukin amassed one of the greatest French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections of paintings ever created. But after Russia’s October Revolution in 1917, Shchukin’s collection was seized and the works scattered across the country. Now Shchukin’s 250-strong collection has been reunited and is showing outside of Russia for the first time at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Curated by Anne Baldassari, formerly of the Picasso Museum, expect to see exquisite Picassos, Cezannes, Monets and Van Goghs and a brilliant multiscreen video-installation Shchukin, Matisse. La Danse et la Musique by producer and director duo Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke, depicting how Shchukin commissioned Matisse to create a monumental work for the Trubetskoy Palace’s staircase. Block your calendar – this show, running until 20 February 2017, is selling out like hotcakes.

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Ai Weiwei’s stop in Florence____ One could never accuse Chinese artist Ai Weiwei of being uncommitted to realpolitik in his art. For this latest exhibition, Libero at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi, he’s grafted 22 inflatable orange rescue rafts onto the 15th century palace’s windows in a statement piece called Reframe, an obvious but topical reference to Europe and the world’s refugee crisis. Among recent works inside are his controversial portraits of political dissidents built with LEGO bricks, and you’ll also find past monumental installations, like Refraction made of solar cookers, kettles, and steel, and Grapes, put together with Qing Dynasty wooden stools (shown above). The exhibition’s title, Libero, which means freedom, resonates for the number of times Weiwei has been placed under house arrest or detained by the Chinese police because of his continued artistic interrogations of censorship, creative freedom and human rights violations. But don’t listen to us – running through 22 January 2017, and giving new meaning to the description ‘site-specific’, Weiwei’s show is well-worth the plane ticket to Florence to see for yourself.

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Desert Beauty: Cactus de Cartier____ In a creative spin on the cactus, Cartier has created a bold, free-spirited collection of jewellery that boasts spikes and contours, generous volumes, and unexpected undulations. Seductive and radiant, these pieces come to life with

movement, open work and dewy gem droplets, especially with our favourites shown here, in 18-carat yellow gold: a Cactus de Cartier ring set with 12 brilliant-cut diamonds, and a necklace with 6 brilliant-cut diamonds. Get yours now at AĂŻshti by the Sea



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the edit Une Nuit chez Diptyque____ A Night at Diptyque comes in the form of a three-act tale about Henri, a shopowner trapped in his store on the Boulevard Saint-Germain on a stormy winter’s night. Inspired by Victorian paper theatre, a paper man takes Henri on an exquisite olfactory journey through Diptyque’s winter candle collection: Un Encens Étoile (Sparkling Incense) is a potent blend of elemi and spicy cloves, incense and sweet vanilla; Épices et Délices (Delicious Spices) has gingerbread, mixed with warm notes of honey and hints of star anise; and you’ll find the rich, woody scent of pine with resin, cedar and patchouli with Le Roi Sapin (the Festive Fir Tree). It doesn’t smell of Christmas without Diptyque.

Art at the port____ “It was locked for 50 years. There wasn’t even paved flooring,” says Joumana Asseily of the garage-turnedart gallery, Marfa, hidden just behind Beirut’s port. The Penninghen art school graduate, with her partner, Cherine Karam, an art critic and director of the space, managed to transform it into an effective raw-looking, minimalist gallery with stark white walls, a perforated concrete ceiling and grey-ish floors that do justice to the works on show. Driven by a desire to engage different audiences, Asseily hosts between four and five shows a year. “I look at how each idea works on an intuitive and poetic level.” You’ve got until year’s end to see Saba Innab’s Al Rahhalah (The Traveler) showing now. Using architectural sketches, unfinished building plans, models, columns and grids in concrete and marble to depict the experience of dwelling, the artist powerfully tackles the absent-presence, migration and exile, and the Palestinian condition.

Courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum


You say you want a revolution?____ You’ll find just about everything that made the sixties so special is on show at the V&A’s latest exhibition, You say you want a revolution? Records & Rebels 1966-70 and why not. This was the era of free Stones concerts in Hyde Park and (mostly) the hippest fashion ever, an era of counterculture and idealism, turbulence and change. Whether you remember Biba minidresses and the Apple 1 computer or not, once you get a glimpse of them, it’ll be easy to see why the decade was so inimitably cool. Even better, all the exhibits are accompanied by musical soundtracks played through headphones that (somehow) recognise which record, costume, item or poster you’re checking out. You’ll dance through the show, and just maybe find the answer to the exhibition’s key question: how have the finished and unfinished revolutions of the late 1960s changed the way we live today and think about the future? Half a century later, we can still trace the impact of this defining era and you’ve got until February 26, 2017 for a trip down memory lane.

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

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The Tory Burch Ride____ With Tory Burch, we’ve got our feet covered. Take their new winter boots – relaxed, cool and feminine, and equestrian. “Fall/Winter 2016 combines the nonchalance of street style — inspired by the café scene in Éric Rohmer’s 1972 film L’amour l’après-midi — with my childhood love of horseback riding. It’s a refined take on sportswear classics, with equestrian details,” the designer explains. Highlights include the timeless, and comfortable over-the-knee Caitlin Suedes, the Sidney boots (shown here), which fit like a leather glove, and for a more rugged feel, try the Sidney Bootie, a variation of the biker boot but with softer elements and shiny accents.

For the Love of the Trolley ____ Beirut-based design team Rami Boushdid and Karl Chucri make up Studio Caramel and are cutting a dash in design circles with their fabulous retro trolleys. Their first appeared at the hip restaurant Baron, a bold and elegant mobile bar in walnut wood, brass and steel; and now they’ve added a second for the same restaurant – an ice cream cart called Glazed, that’s more geometric, playful and uber-modernist. “We were influenced by the shape of an ice cream cone and the way it wraps around itself in layers,” say the designers. There’s also a light pink storage compartment for 12 icepacks to keep your gelato cool. Studio Caramel is determined to revive the functionality of the old school trolley and bring it into the modern age. What next? A specialist wine cart for wine tasting, apparently. We can’t wait to see what they come up with.


Salon d’Automne is back at Sursock____ The Paris Salon, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, was launched in 1667 and revered as arguably, the greatest art exhibit of the time. Jump centuries later to 1960s Beirut to the Sursock Museum’s first Salons, which brought together emerging and established artists with critics and the public, and were making waves in the Lebanese capital. Now Salon d’Automne is celebrating its 32nd exhibition, running from November 2016 to February 2017. 52 artists handpicked from over 300 applicants living and working in Lebanon will showcase their art, ranging from video to installation to painting, with big names like Tanya Traboulsi, Rim Assi, Gilbert Hage and Marwan Moujaes participating. What makes this year extra special is the Audience Choice Award – not only do you get to see some of the best art Lebanon has to offer, you get to vote for your favourite piece too.

Courtesy of the Sursock Museum

B.A.R. stands for Beirut Art Residency____ If you’re not looking for the Beirut Art Residency, you’re likely to miss it on a quiet corner of Rue Pasteur. The year-old non-profit artist-run residency space enables multidisciplinary local and international artists (up to six) to work (and live) together in an art deco apartment a stone’s throw from the hip Mar Mikhael neighbourhood. The work is then shown in an Open Studio event, like Gianna Dispenza’s Feast III, shown on the left. We love B.A.R. because founder Amar Zahr has curated some bold experimentations in the space, from musician Charbel Haber’s 2015 audiovisual encounters with surf rock, to last summer’s community project, Safe Sounds II, in which people could take home local birds (bulbuls) housed in painted cages, and then set them free to impact the city’s soundscapes. BAR’s latest move is a collaboration with the Joy Mardini Design Gallery for a new design residency in Beirut, Render, where three international designers will be selected to work with Beirut-based ones. All going to plan, the resulting products will be showcased during Beirut Design Week in May 2017. Keep your eyes peeled.

SPINNING BY THE SEA A Mag associate editor Rayane Abou Jaoude gets on her bike with Exhale at Aïshti by the Sea’s Urban Retreat


Music pulsating, leg muscles pumping, and an ambient light show. “Come on,” I say, “Wicked tune…” Nope I am not at The Grand Factory for a drum and bass all-nighter and I am not dancing. It’s Monday morning, and I’m actually in the Urban Retreat day spa and gym at Aïshti by the Sea, where Sami, part-trainer/part-DJ (his soundboard is pretty impressive) is making me sweat in his Express Spin Ride class. He alternates between showing us what to do and bellowing encouraging commands (“Take it up a quarter of a turn! Yes! Keep going!”), to keep the class pedalling through the pain. It’s gritty, loud, intimidating and like I said, sweaty. If your legs aren’t trembling by the end of it – but with good pain and adrenaline that comes from a productive workout session – then you’re probably a Tour De France winner.

Spinning is all the rage at the moment among fitness junkies, and with good reason. This is high intensity, low impact exercise – perfect for those who enjoy cycling but can’t find a way to do it outdoors (the roads in Lebanon aren’t exactly bikerfriendly) and who appreciate the collective encouragement of group training sessions. A bit like 80s aerobic routines where you were moved to repetitive disco music, the electronic, rhythmic beats that accompany spinning are as much as what it’s all about as the exercise itself – the music keeps you going and makes the entire activity feel more like dancing than cycling, especially with dimmed lights. And when you ‘spin’, sweat and exercise as a group to music, it gives the whole experience an energizing and community feel.

The class is organised by boutique exercise studio and gym, Exhale – whose original space in Saifi village is hugely popular and who last October partnered with Urban Retreat at Aïshti by the Sea to push spinning to the next level. Exhale was founded by

Hania Bissat in collaboration with star choreographer Alissar Caracalla, and as pioneers in indoor cycling, their aim is to take Exhale at Urban Retreat to new heights. And it’s the perfect place to do it, as the UR studio space is a fully authorised spinning facility. The gym and locker rooms are spacious, the walls painted in relaxing, soft hues, and the best part is, you spin in a studio and exercise in a gym in front of an exceptional view of the sea and the Beirut skyline. There’s a lot to be said for visual inspiration like that when you’re in the middle of a workout. And when you’re done, the UR spa is right next door if you need a post-workout massage to wind down. Back in the class, Sami tests my personal spinning threshold to determine my highest sustainable effort. It starts off pretty easy,

but every time he turns that dial and the intensity increases, I lose a little more breath, and my legs get a little heavier. Yet the certain adrenaline rush and the fervency to the spin class are really making this novice enjoy her cardio workout much more. Dare I say it’s actually fun. You honestly can’t help but go that extra mile, it’s so much fun you want to push yourself further. Luckily, you can turn down the resistance when it gets to be too much. Once it’s all over, with the lights back on, I catch my breath and feel my energy levels exploding off the charts. This might just be my most productive Monday of the year. For more on Exhale’s spin classes at Urban Retreat at Aïshti by the Sea, visit



Spend $200 or more at Aïshti for the chance to win a luxurious 2016 Audi A8



Spotlights, live music, a glamour parade on an open-air runway – welcome to the MasterCard Aïshti Fashion Experience 2016, in collaboration with Bank Audi, on the eve of the Aïshti Foundation’s first birthday. Fourteen models sporting 48 looks graced the runway, which began in front of the foundation’s red façade and led to the music stage by the sea and Beirut’s glittering skyline beyond. Styled by Amelianna Loiacono, the autumn/ winter 2016 collections at Aïshti came to life with playful pairings: fur coats with smart tops and button-down skirts, sparkly dresses with cardigans, bell bottoms with dazzling headbands and accessories. Looks varied from Dolce & Gabbana to Gucci, Prada and other exclusive luxury brands. It’s show time!


Above: Models on the catwalk at the end of the show; Lea struts in Gucci Opposite: Oksana on the runway in a Galvan jumpsuit

Photography by Rami Hajj


Anticipation, excitement, and a whole lot of prep. Join us backstage to see what it takes to put on a glamorous show and what our models get up to before they step onto the catwalk. Selfie anyone?


Above: Vera takes a selfie in a Saint Laurent dress and bag; Left: Worn-out Gucci heels

Above: Michelle gathers herself in a stunning Alessandra Rich Chantilly lace dress and Bottega Veneta bag; Bottom left: Marc AndrĂŠ poses in a Prada outfit; Below: Marc AndrĂŠ and Lea fooling around in Gucci outfits




Above: Micha twirling in an Alberta Ferretti dress and ChloÊ bag Opposite, from top: Alexandra gives a knowing look in an Emilio Pucci dress (left) and Katherina wears a Giambattista Valli dress (right); Andrej about to go on the catwalk in a Corneliani outfit; from left to right: The girls are rocking it – Angela in Moschino, Vera in Saint Laurent, Oksana in Prada, and Katherina in Giambattista Valli


From top: Vera, dressed and ready to go in a ChloĂŠ outfit and Graphic necklace; there she is again, pumped in a Saint Laurent look; Kristina shows off an Alexander McQueen jumpsuit and clutch

Above: Oksana flaunts a Galvan jumpsuit and a Bulgari Serpenti necklace; Left, Gianvito Rossi heels about to be worn; Below: Micha lines up in a Proenza Schouler dress



Katherina queues in an Etro dress (left) & Lea striking a pose in a Miu Miu outfit (right)

Waiting in line: Micha in a Dolce & Gabbana dress, Michele pulling off a Dior outfit, and Angela radiant in Moschino


Top left: Micha shows off a Dolce & Gabbana purse. Above, from left: Nara and Lea cool in Gucci outfits, Micha, glamorous in a Dolce & Gabbana dress

Multicolor Calf Puzzle, 2016 Aïshti By the Sea, Antelias



THE SCENE / YOGA IN BO18 Photography by Marco Pinarelli


Beirut’s most famous nightclub usually plays host to star DJs and sweating clubgoers, not star yogis and sweating students. But in October, Yoga Souk, Beirut’s newest yoga studio just around the corner (see p. 337), marked its launch with a pop-up session in BO18, led by prominent NYC yoga teacher Rima Rabbath. Sell it and they will come, and Beirut’s yoga-lovers came in droves. “BO18 has this fascinating architecture,” Rabbath says, “Under an open roof, you’re half-exposed, – you put yourself out there, without any artifice. And yoga is about becoming at ease with who you are.” She calls it a “positive disruption.” Who knew? Look out for the next urban intervention in early February.


Photography by Raya Farhat



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Words by Rayane Abou Jaoude Photography by Tony Elieh



SAY HELLO TO OMAR, THE NEXT-GENERATION RAHBANY CHANGING THE FACE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC WITH HIS NEWLY RELEASED ALBUM, ‘PASSPORT’ The Elias Rahbany Studio lies deep underground a Naccache building, hushed and disconnected from the outside world. The lights are dim in the reception area; it’s cramped and confined like a darkroom. But enter the recording studio and enter into light and space. A Pierre Sadek caricature of music royalty, the composer Elias, hangs on a pale blue wall. The control room, with its hardwood floor and mahogany touches looks out at the entire music room, intimidating to amateur eyes. Amid the microphones, Marshall amplifiers, and a polished piano, one gets the feeling great music is made here. Like the music of 27-year-old composer – and latest of the Rahbany dynasty to come through – Omar Rahbany. “When I’m in ‘studio mode’, and this could last for months like with [new record] Passport, I transform into a bat,” he says. “They sometimes call us the rats of the night because we work at night and we spend a lot of time underground.”

Wherever he’s recording, the studio becomes a living room, bedroom, dining room all in one, with Rahbany and the sound engineers starting the day early and then moving to the control room to prepare for recording sessions with musicians, who arrive either in the afternoons or evenings. Much of Rahbany’s work is in the latter room, where he works with synthesizers and computers to reproduce his scores. “A great studio composition starts with carefully selecting the tempo changes if any, and in my case so many, and creating a clear structure for the musicians. This usually takes time,” he says.

When musicians come in, he needs to be at his best. He even watches what he eats for lunch to keep his energy up, and focuses on his collaborators’ energy levels as well, continued on page 124


Game of Nations, a book on politics and conspiracies. I like to stay informed so I can remember that what we see is not real. I never want to be brainwashed

I use my camera to capture moments. I’m always taking photographs

My dumbbells because I believe a healthy body is a healthy mind


Wagner pioneered total art; he’s one of many musicians that I love. Mozart is so complex and simple at the same time

Lego models provide a very positive outlook on life. A song called Zook in Passport is based on a Lego vision. They’re made to look good aesthetically

I began reading the Dialogues of Plato at a very young age, and my Socrates and Plato statuettes are here to always remind me to follow logic and reason

I love the theme of utopia. Dreaming is good. The reality we live in now is bitter

My iPad is my window to the technological world, and it’s always on me. I also use it for composing sometimes

Of course, I’ve got a Lego on my keychain to carry around with me everywhere

I bought the violin so that when I am orchestrating, I can see the positions and learn them


I always have a pencil to compose with. I also have a habit of biting down on it when I’m playing chords

I have so many CDs and there’s a huge variety, ranging from Limp Bizkit to Strauss to Wayne Shorter

A very old music sheet from when I was 8 or 9 years old. My first attempts at composing

keeping them motivated throughout the recording process so that the audience picks up on that when listening to the finished product.

And when he’s not composing and working in the control room, he heads straight for the piano. Playful and humble, Rahbany continuously returns to the piano in the music room to play a piece, listening to our conversation but still focused on the keys, head swaying with rhythm and emphasis. In a split second, he’s placed a pencil between his teeth – a habit, he says, from having to keep one around to scribble notes on his music sheet. His love for music is palpable, and has been with him from the very beginning. When his mother Danielle was pregnant, she kept up her piano lessons at the behest of his father Ghadi, so that Rahbany could hear the music even from inside the womb. Passport was released in October, a unique compilation of songs, each different from the next. It opens with Overture, which was recorded with The Kiev City Symphonic Orchestra, a classical introduction to the album, or “curtain”, as Rahbany calls it. But the rest of the album isn’t exactly classical; it is a merging of East and West, of jazz and oriental music, infused with a classical foundation. “It’s still challenging as to how we can market this. What is its label? Classical? Jazz? World music? Oriental? I wanted to compose music without thinking of the picture and image. I wanted it to be abstract,” Rahbany says.


His inspiration for Passport comes from the concept of total art, or Gesamtkunstwerk, where all performance or artistic elements of a piece are integrated, as well as the concept of sacred geometry – the belief that certain geometric shapes have sacred meaning. Their forms inspire Rahbany to make his music “more solid and better connected”, and this idea was used in the album’s artwork. He even cites football, a passion introduced to him by his uncle Oussama, as a creative stimulus because it taught him teamwork and strategizing. To compose the song Anarkia, he used a referee whistle and the Batucada, a Brazilian rhythm close to the samba style used in the Brazilian football team’s victory dances.

This is manifested in the song Umbrella Woman, where Rahbany delves into the question of the existence of a creator, whether life has an absolute, or if everything is relative. He began composing only a couple of years after taking up the piano and proudly shows a composition from almost two decades ago. By 24, he began to put his compositions together to make an album. “I had created some compositions but they had to be reworked. I started working on the album and finished the demo. At that point I had met Mahdi through a mutual friend. Mahdi believes in total art and he wanted to invest in music. We had an immediate connection and felt we were talking about the same thing,” he says.

They created the Rahbany Yehya Productions (RYP) and worked with designers and sound engineers to get the album going. A total of 179 individuals contributed to the making of Passport, which saw Rahbany travel to Chicago, New York, Dubai, Paris and Ukraine for its recording and Real World Studios in the United Kingdom for the mixing. Contributors include big names in the jazz industry, like fourteen-time Grammy award winning producer and musician Steve Rodby, drummer Keith Carlock, guitarist Wayne Krantz, trumpeter Cuong Vu, and composer and drummer Karim Ziad. Rahbany chased them down expecting no response, but they were swayed by his music and jumped on board. Passport took three years to complete; even the song sequence took some time because each one is so different from the other. The name Passport was chosen at the very end. “We gave the album a cinematic trait. We recorded a large part of it in Lebanon to keep its original spirit,” Rahbany explains. “It all happened organically. I was told repeatedly not to do this with the music because records now ask for a very clear album; every piece is three to four minutes long at most, and the form and structure is clear so that people can listen to it when they’re driving because they don’t have time to focus on what they’re listening to,” he says.


“When I first began working on Passport, I saw it as something ordinary. Then I saw people’s reactions, and I began to think about how it needed courage. The project is courageous. My partner and producer, Mahdi Yahya and I have a passion towards new things, towards risks; what’s the point of rediscovering something that’s already there?” Rahbany explains. At seven years old, he began learning the piano with Hagop Arslanian, the renowned teacher who also taught the second and thirdgeneration Rahbanys. Hagop’s teaching method included studying in nature, where Rahbany would learn the names of the trees and the birds, something he would later incorporate into his music.

“It’s very inspiring… when the wind whispers in your ear, when you smell the earth. Now I don’t know where that is. Our sense of smell is lost. A part of Passport is a search for this, for my identity. What are we? Where can I smell the air as it really is? Passport is a question and I don’t have the answer. More than anything, it’s about existence,” he says.

But he went for it anyway, convincing peers and colleagues that this kind of emotive, eclectic music could be done, and done well. “People are perhaps not used to this kind of structure, but eventually they grow used to it,” he says. “They have a fear of the unknown, but you need to be open to get used to something new... Our aim with Passport and RYP is to always try to change perceptions and pre-conceptions.” What does the future hold? Taking up sculpting, he says, and even filmmaking. As for the music, he’s looking into making something even more different.

“Passport is now behind me. I don’t want to do anything like Passport, I want to discover something new,” Rahbany says. “I feel like more of a discoverer than a composer.” ‘Passport’ is out now


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Words by Claudia Croft

Left: Marc Jacobs taking applause on the catwalk of his spring/summer 2017 show; Above: Marc Jacobs Autumn ‘16 shot by Craig McDean, styled by Karl Templer for Interview Magazine June/July 2016. Below and opposite: Models walk down the runway for the autumn/winter 2016 collection



An outlier in American fashion, he has never been afraid to shock, even when it got him fired. Meet the uncompromising designer whose business brings in almost $1 billion a year


Marc Jacobs knows how things should be done. He knows that to sell masses of clothes, bags and shoes he should get the prettiest girls and shoot lovely pictures of them in adorable locations. He knows why designers, especially American ones, do that: “It makes what they create more accessible to people. It helps you to see yourself in clothes when they’re put in a banal situation.” But Jacobs, 53, has a problem with this approach. “It’s just boring,” he says in his bustling downtown showroom on a hot New York day. For him, banal is not the new black and never will be. His latest collection is a souped-up, monochrome take on gothic glamour, complete with vastly oversized proportions, fright wigs and death-defying platforms. If Wednesday Addams grew up and joined a goth-punk band, this is how she might look. He describes it as “dark romance”, but he is also the first to admit that “it does intimidate people.”

The designer is at a fascinating point in his career. There has been talk of a Marc Jacobs IPO (initial public offering) since 2013, when the designer stepped down after 16 years at the helm of Louis Vuitton. At the time, Bernard Arnault, the boss of LVMH, which has an 80% stake in Marc Jacobs, said he wanted a flotation in two or three years. In preparation, Jacobs has radically restructured, folding his diffusion line into his main line, and launched a lucrative make-up division. It has been a period of unsettling change, but it is paying off. The business is bringing in revenues of nearly $1 billion a year, but with no date set for an IPO, what is the future direction of the brand? Should it become larger, more


He lives there with his bull terrier, Neville, who has his own Instagram account with 191k followers. For relaxation, Jacobs hits the gym and goes on holidays with friends, including the Dsquared2 brothers, Dean and Dan Caten. He has dated a former gay porn star, and last year quit Grindr after the New York Post reported an alleged “10-person orgy” at his house. In defiant style, he responded on Instagram: “Wild??? I’d say ‘MILD’”, and announced: “Goodbye (for now) Grindr! It was fun for ‘group’ get togethers, but, what really excites me is my work!” alongside a topless shot of himself.

He’s been praised by minority groups for his inclusive approach but today he plays down the politics, saying: “The casting has not been an attempt at saying I believe in diversity. It is just that I believe in people who inspire me.” Jacobs also hints at tensions with the corporate side of his business: “It has been told to me, especially recently with the ads we have done, ‘We don’t do these kinds of aspirational ads or images. It’s not us.’” He has chosen his path, yet he tussles with the alternative. “If we compromised,” he says, “we would reach more people.” Jacobs occupies an exalted position in American fashion, although he doesn’t see it that way. “I think I will always feel, in every aspect of my life, like a misfit or outsider,” he says. “I am not looking down on myself, but I don’t know that I’ve ever felt like I belong. And I am totally fine with that, so it is not a negative thing at all.”


corporate and less “intimidating”, or hold onto its toocool-for-school DNA?

Jacobs openly wrestles with this question. “I never like to say that I am courageous or brave, but I think we do push things,” he says. “We are very unapologetic about it. We do care about what people think, but we don’t compromise. It appeals to some people and it alienates others. Some people look at the images and think, ‘I can’t be that girl. I could never wear that make-up or walk in those boots.’ That’s not the point.”

So what is? The current ad campaign features images of figures such as Sissy Spacek, Marilyn Manson, Susan Sarandon, Missy Elliott, Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner, gender-bending models and a host of fresh-faced girls. On his website, Jacobs announced: “This collection is a reminder to question and challenge the normal and to continue exploring and pushing boundaries.” He does this in all aspects of his life, which he keenly shares on Instagram. Home (recently on the cover of Architectural Digest) is a Greenwich Village townhouse stuffed with Art Deco furniture, 1970s design pieces and art by the likes of Richard Prince and John Currin.

There isn’t anyone else quite like him. His contrary, confrontational attitude sets him apart from most American designers, who specialise in beige wearability. “We always make a fashion statement, there is no question about it. We think, unlike many New York designers. I think we have gone above them. We do something that is more akin to a Paris fashion show,” he says of himself and his creative team, which includes Katie Grand, the British stylist and editor of Love magazine. “There is something more fantastic about it,” he says. “There is something more theatrical, and it is definitely more elevated in terms of the make, the quality and the sophistication of materials.” Does he have anything in common with his

This page and opposite: The runway show for Marc Jacobs’ autumn/winter 2016; Above: Models backstage

New York colleagues? “We make clothes for a living,” is as generous a comment as he can manage.

At times during our conversation, Jacobs seems as taut as his gym-honed biceps. His diary is tightly organised into 20-minute segments, and it’s a good thing that rehab taught him to live in the moment (he’s been twice, in 1999 and 2007). “I am very good at doing what is next on my schedule.” So what about that much talked-about IPO? Where’s that on his timetable? Jacobs rolls his eyes. “I am not a businessman and I have never pretended to be. I am very happy doing what I am doing. I don’t dream of an IPO, I don’t even know what IPO stands for. That is not a joke — I do not know what IPO stands for.”

I believe him. Robert Duffy, his business partner since the 1980s, always handled the corporate side. Last year Duffy stepped back from day-to-day operations. The brand’s CEO now is Sebastian Suhl, who came from the LVMH-owned Givenchy.

Jacobs had an unsettled childhood. His father, a William Morris agent, died when he was seven, and his mother, he says, suffered from mental illness. Jacobs eventually moved in with his grandmother on New York’s Upper West Side. He studied at the Parsons fashion school and sold his first hand-knitted jumpers while still a student. After graduation, he landed a job at Perry Ellis, the American sportswear brand, but was fired in 1992 after presenting a “grunge” collection which, although panned by critics, kickstarted a global trend. He’s been starting trends ever since, but if Saint Laurent had Le Smoking, and Dior the New Look, Jacobs’s signature style is trickier to pin down. He designs in a contrary, oppositional way. If last season he did long, the next will be short; if one collection is colourful, the next might be black. This worries critics, who look for consistency, and confounds people who want to define the Marc Jacobs look. “It is very well made, well-executed, but I am not sure that is visible to everybody,” he says. Yet there is something constant with Jacobs. Whatever he does, there is a powerful determination to surprise the senses. His shows and campaigns make your eyes

“I will always feel... like a misfit or outsider... and I am totally fine with that, so it’s not a negative thing at all.” send frantic ‘what’s that?’ signals to your brain. He seems to tap into the pure essence of fashion — the shocking, shape-shifting fizz of the new. “It’s not a natural-looking girl next door in a jacket or in a shirtwaist dress. You don’t come away from the experience thinking, that is what your sister or neighbour wears,” he says, ”You just feel fashion.” Boring? Never. Bold? Always. Marc Jacobs is available at Aïshti by the Sea and Aïshti Downtown



OLDER IS BOLDER Forget age stereotypes. The style icons of our time are as much older, inspirational women over younger ingĂŠnues like Alexa Chung or Cara Delevingne. For our bold issue A Mag profiles four incredible older ladies who are, or have been, at the top of their game. And we show you how to get their look


ANNA DELLO RUSSO At 54, the Vogue Italia veteran and current editor-at-large of Vogue Japan is an influential blogger and stylist with a flamboyant fashion sense. Passionate about elaborate headgear, called a "fashion maniac" by Helmut Newton, and dubbed Queen of the Streets in the press, ADR is never afraid to glam it up.


2. 4.


1. 8.





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17. 16. 15.

21. 14. 19. 18.


1. Gucci 2. Moschino 3. Fendi 4. Valentino 5. Sonia Rykiel 6. Gucci 7. Marni 8. Saint Laurent 9. J Brand 10. Prada 11. Fendi 12. Alexander Wang 13. Stella McCartney 14. Alessandra Rich 15. Gucci 16. Anya Hindmarch 17. Kenzo 18. Balenciaga 19. Dolce & Gabbana 20. Miu Miu 21. Jimmy Choo



The late Loulou de la Falaise, long-time muse of Yves Saint Laurent, was also a clothing, jewellery and accessories designer who blazed a trail for ethnic boho-chic until her death in 2011. Known for inspiring YSL’s 1966 women’s tuxedo Le Smoking and modelling his see-through blouses, the daughter of a French marquis and British model, brought eastern fashion to the world at her wedding wearing an elaborate harem/sari outfit. 1. & 2. Stella McCartney 3. Etro 4. Dolce & Gabbana 5. Marni 6. Bottega Veneta 7. Gucci 8. Prada 9. Chloé 10. Alexander Wang 11. Gucci 12. Dolce & Gabbana 13. Chloé 14. Cushnie Et Ochs 15. & 16. Miu Miu 17. Moncler 18. Oscar de la Renta 19. Dior 20. Valentino

5. 6.

3. 7.













19. 17.






The Australian-born Paris-based stylist and costume designer is a global style leader, having worked with photographers like Mario Testino, David LaChapelle and Ellen Von Unwerth over the years and been creative consultant to brands such as Ungaro, Givenchy and Balmain, among others. Her style is retro, she rides around Paris in YSL stilettos, loves her turbans and colourful kimonos and, though her exact age is shrouded in mystery, she is banging the drum for how to grow older and still remain at the forefront of fashion.

1. Valentino 2. Vince 3. Chloé 4. Fendi 5. Valentino 6. Alexander McQueen 7. Céline 8. Gucci 9. Miu Miu 10. Balenciaga 11. Etro 12. Chloé 13. Etro 14. Ellery 15. Balenciaga 16. Roberto Cavalli 17. Fendi 18. Gianvito Rossi 19. Valentino




1. 7.

8. 6.








14. 15.

17. 11.






Iris Apfel, 94, may be the oldest woman in the fashion world but she only entered the limelight at 83 when New York’s MET held an exhibition of her costume jewellery in 2005. Ever since, she’s become the face of Kate Spade’s collections as well as Alexis Bittar’s jewellery, proving that it’s never too late to be a harbinger of cool. @iris.apfel 1. Dolce & Gabbana 2. Miu Miu 3. Dior 4. Dolce & Gabbana 5. Gucci 6. Miu Miu 7. Fendi 8. Gucci 9. Moschino 10. Dior 11. Gucci 12. Dolce & Gabbana 13. Saint Laurent 14. Etro 15. & 16. Marni 17. Etro 18. Jimmy Choo 19. Miu Miu 20. Stella McCartney



4. 5.



11. 10.


8. 12.





16. 15.



20. 18.

Words by Stephen Doig


This page, far left: Alessandro Michele and Jared Leto at the 88th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Above: Jared Leto with Cara Delevingne and other members of the cast of ‘Suicide Squad’. Left: Gucci Guilty for men. Opposite page and overleaf: Jared Leto in the campaign for Gucci Guilty

Jason Merritt, David M. Benett


A Mag hangs out with the face of Gucci Guilty fragrance In a weed-strewn wasteland at an abandoned railway station on the outskirts of Milan, a crowd of teenage girls is screaming. The scene might evoke a certain post-apocalyptic menace were it not for the object of this pandemonium: Jared Leto, Oscar-winning leftof-centre Hollywood leading man. The actor picks his way across overgrown train tracks to the Gucci spring/ summer 2017 men’s show, wearing a fine example of the house’s peacock style under creative director Alessandro Michele – a delicately embroidered iceblue silk bomber emblazoned with personalised monograms – as a mass of paparazzi and street-style photographers shoal around him.

Inside, the sensory assault continues with Alessandro Michele’s riotous vision of the 21st-century Gucci man, complete with the rainbow colours, cartoon prints, chinoiserie and Prussian decoration that have become his calling card. Leto clocks a poison-green coat on the catwalk, which he’ll later wear to the European premiere of his film Suicide Squad (the exact moment will become an internet meme sensation), the hue chiming nicely with the costumery of his anti-hero, the Joker. The following day, this high-fashion hubbub is a far cry from Leto’s hushed – to the point of monastic – suite in the city’s Four Seasons. The actor sits stock still,

curtains drawn, shrouded in semi-darkness despite the blazing sunshine of an Italian June.

“Sorry, I’m really jet lagged,” he says by way of explanation, lest the vignette should take on too much of the air of Interview with the Vampire. Leto has flown in from L.A. (“it’s the worst, that leg between the West Coast of America and Europe”), hosting a dinner with Michele on the evening of the show to launch his ad campaign as the new face of the Gucci Guilty fragrance for men – an ethereal dream sequence through misty Venice. It depicts Leto – petal-fine features and long lashes – showcasing Michele’s feminised vision of men’s fashion (pussy-bow blouses, silk shirts) alongside two Pre-Raphaelite beauties, drifting through a ghostly grand palazzo like otherworldly nymphs with a penchant for Gucci loafers. “We were all holed up in Venice last December, and it felt like a mysterious, magical winter fantasyland – the city of water, an impossible place that shouldn’t even exist,” says Leto. “It transports you – it was a really special time.” It was the sea change implemented by Michele since his takeover at the house in January 2015 that sparked



Leto’s wardrobe for the promotion of Suicide Squad, for which he wore Michele’s most renegade designs; it takes a brave man to pull off a cobalt-blue military coat with Western-style top-stitching, embroidered with eruptions of florals, fish and dancing Donald Ducks. But then, as he notes, Michele (who attended the 2016 Oscars with Leto) ‘is excited by breaking the rules’.


the star’s curiosity, he says. “I, like the rest of the world, saw something beautiful happening from afar. I noticed it without really knowing who it was or what brand it was, but I remember seeing a photo of all these women wearing Gucci gowns and the colours just struck me. It was so vibrant that even a fashion novice like myself was quickly made aware that someone special was at work here.”

The term ‘fashion novice’ is somewhat misleading: the actor – who moonlights as lead singer of his band Thirty Seconds to Mars – has evolved as a bold experimentalist in the world of menswear, donning soft lilac Givenchy tuxedos and sequinned Saint Laurent jackets on the red carpet of the industry’s most august award ceremonies while his fellow cast members toe the line in hire-tux black. At the Met Gala this year he oozed 1930s MGM theatricality in white tails (complete with Fred Astaire cane), while at the Academy Awards he opted for a black suit with red piping and snake-emblem velvet slippers – both Gucci – and a flamenco-esque corsage in place of a tie. “I’d describe my style as undertaker meets gardener,” Leto says, laughing. “If that sounds confusing, it’s probably because it is. I don’t really put much time into fashion. I have fun with it and I’m not worried about being too safe because at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal.” That sense of playfulness parlayed into

Off-duty, Leto says he veers towards “rock climbing or hiking clothes”; he owns a former military compound in the Laurel Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills, which is still referred to as the Lookout Mountain Laboratory. “I wear what’s comfortable and I prefer the classics. I like that people have been wearing jeans since the 1800s and still do today.”

Although he’s the face of the fragrance Gucci Guilty for men, the peppery, amber-accented fragrance that made its debut in 2010, Leto has a grooming routine that is similarly low-key. (Despite this, he belies his 44 years – even though he’s jet-lagged, there’s not a dark shadow on his porcelain complexion.) “I keep things so simple, I mean so simple. I can’t be bothered to waste time. I’m a big believer in sleep,” he says, stifling a yawn; the transatlantic schlep is playing havoc with his body clock. “There’s a myth that the less you sleep, the harder you work, the stronger you are, but that needs to be dispelled.” And with that he casts an eye longingly towards the suite door that, I imagine, leads to his bedroom. Luckily Gucci boasts a solid roster of silk pyjamas. Gucci Guilty is available at Aïshti downtown and Aïshti by the Sea





Glittering gems for the perfect seasonal gift



Left, necklace and above, rings by Cactus de Cartier

Above, Opera High Jewelry cuff, and right, Unica Broccato pendant earrings, both by Buccellati

Above, earrings, and right, rings, from Les Traditionelles collection by George Hakim

Left, Repossi earrings at Sylvie Saliba, and above, bracelet and ring by Mouawad

Left, earrings from the Arum collection, and above, rings from the Copacabana collection, both by Tabbah

Arabesque Deco Yellow Diamond Cuff by Ralph Masri

Photography by Tony Elieh


IN CONVERSATION WITH ZEINA DACCACHE Her 2009 adaptation 12 Angry Lebanese, performed by inmates in Lebanon’s biggest penitentiary, Roumieh, was unprecedented. As her latest work Johar… Up In The Air screens at Beirut’s Metropolis Cinema, Rayane Abou Jaoude catches up with the daring director

Zeina Daccache is surprisingly light-hearted for someone who’s spent much of the last decade helping hardened criminals in the country’s prisons deal with their demons. The actor-director, who made her name in the weekly political TV show Bas Mat Watan, does it through her drama therapy centre, Catharsis, using the performing arts as a way to give meaning and hope to long-term prisoners and promote their human rights. Daccache’s aim is to see how theatre and drama therapy can grow in the most forgotten places, and how it can change both the prisoners themselves and society’s perceptions of them. “I had been researching, asking, does it exist to heal people through theatre?” she explains. “I didn’t want to just give them a script to learn and perform. It’s them on stage, their stories, not Shakespeare’s, not someone else’s. That’s what we call a drama therapy self-revelatory performance – yourself, revealed on stage.” Performed by inmates in Roumieh last May, Johar… Up in the Air tackles the difficult and controversial subject of the prison’s mentally ill inmates. Housed in a wing known as the Blue Building, they currently receive no treatment or therapy, their illnesses ignored, doomed to remain incarcerated until they are ‘cured’, according to Lebanese law. How that might happen is not iterated in the law – perhaps because it is not intended to happen.

Johar, written and directed by Daccache, focuses on the stories from the Blue Building – the inmates’ backgrounds, their illnesses, and their experiences inside Roumieh, performed through dance, monologues, and skits. The stories are meant to show the importance of improving mental health treatments in the prison and advocate for suitable legislation for mentally ill inmates. The actors are inmates from another block, those who are either imprisoned for life or are on death row, with a few suffering from mental illness. So while each group is incarcerated for different reasons, both face the same fate: they will never leave the prison. The play opens with a group of bare-chested men performing an interpretive dance, symbolic of the goingson inside a patient’s mind – the confusion, the noise, the voices. One in particular stands out, his eyes lined with kohl, hair in a bun, with a large, prominent nose. He appears later as ‘Hamlet’, so named by Daccache, dressed in drag – a slinky red dress and black heels with a protruding bosom – dancing provocatively while singing Peggy Lee’s Why Don’t You Do Right. “When Hamlet decided to participate, he openly proclaimed he was homosexual. So I thought, why can’t this also be a platform for him to express his difference? Especially since you can actually be imprisoned for being homosexual in Lebanon,” Daccache says.

Courtesy of Catharsis

While Hamlet himself does not suffer from mental illness nor is he inside for life, Daccache saw potential there. It was a bold move to cast him in the play, in part because being gay is still not fully accepted in all realms of Lebanese society and also because his open sexuality proved difficult for other prisoners to deal with. Daccache told them to either accept Hamlet as a fellow performer or leave. “You work on accepting the other [in prison],” she says. For Johar, Daccache spent time filming Blue Building residents as they told their stories. She then had the prisoners from the other block re-enact these stories after showing them the tapes. Many of the inmates “My goal was always therapy because I’ve been through therapy and I’ve done theatre. I would always say that those two things changed my life on a personal level. So I could of course use this [knowledge] to benefit someone else. I didn’t know anyone who was using theatre in these kinds of spaces,” Daccache says. She first explored working with the mentally ill at the Al Fanar Hospital for Neuropsychiatric Disorders, produced the moving From the Bottom of My Brain with the patients. It was a cathartic process both for the patients and for Daccache. “That’s when I began to think about the mentally ill in prisons, so that idea stuck with me and I thought we needed to work with them, do something one day. Mental illness is an ongoing [theme] with me,” she adds.



“It was difficult… There was fear associated with us entering the prison,” she explains. “Roumieh is a maximum security prison, not a regular prison.” wanted specific roles, and so she held auditions and cast each one. There’s ‘The Colonel’, a former militia fighter during the Lebanese Civil War who asks other inmates to call him ‘Sir’, Tufaily, a former drug addict who is only able to quiet the noise inside his mind with a cigarette. We find out that Johar is actually the name of a donkey belonging to an inmate from the Blue Building, one that had been stolen from him.

“The [prison actors and the Blue Building inmates] never met, they only saw each other on video,” Daccache says. “(One actor) took over [the role], he fell in love with the other inmate. He didn’t only imitate him, he found him inside himself… It was in his blood,” she explains.

After initially studying theatre at Saint Joseph University, Daccache says she realised that theatre had become a “closed society”, appealing to only a select few; she volunteered to teach theatre at Lebanese drug rehabilitation centre Oum El Nour, later met with psychologists, discovered drama therapy, and continued to study both theatre (at the École Philippe Gaulier in the UK) and drama therapy (at Kansas State University in the US). She gained a further degree in clinical psychology and her organisation, Catharsis, was born. 172

Even then, it took a long time to convince the authorities of the benefits of drama therapy in prisons, and to convince them that they should care about prisoners’ welfare at all.

For the authorities merely to agree for 12 Angry Lebanese to even happen, in principle, took eight months of persuasion. It took Daccache another year of work to put on the play. “I kept insisting, and was refused access three times, but I was very stubborn – whenever a door was closed, I would be ready with a plan B. I had to reassure [officials] that I was there as a partner,” Daccache says.

Once inside it took some time for Roumieh’s inmates to take her seriously, largely because they associated her with Izo, the loud, clownish character she played on Bas Mat Watan. By building their confidence and encouraging teamwork, Daccache changed opinions and inspired ideas, and significantly helped them envision a future for themselves. 12 Angry Lebanese played to the public every Sunday for four months, within the prison walls, and was critically acclaimed both at home and abroad after the play and a documentary were released on DVD. Many of the over 40 inmates of Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian, Nigerian and Bangladeshi origin, who performed in the play, said the project helped lift them out of the darkness when they had reached a point of total despair. “After the play, a huge number of people wanted to start helping in prisons. Organisations were created, lawyers were looking to help more. Now people want to know, are they doing well inside? Do they need anything?” Daccache says. The play even succeeded in pushing the government to implement law 463 in 2009, which aims at reducing sentences based on good behaviour. After Johar, Daccache via Catharsis also submitted two draft laws asking for suitable legislation to protect mentally ill inmates and those sentenced to life imprisonment.

In Daccache’s Scheherazade’s Diary, performed in the allfemale Baabda Prison in 2013, she looked at how women inmates’ social backgrounds affected their confrontation with patriarchal systems. A large number of the women imprisoned had been married off young, beaten by their husbands for years, raped, and worse. Many were sent down either for adultery or killing their aggressors. “You can see how much hate grows,” Daccache says. “[We did this play] around the time Kafa (a lobbying organisation dedicated to women’s rights) were putting forth their draft law [on domestic violence]. We had already invited all members of Parliament and the ministers, so they became somewhat ‘brainwashed’, compelled to sign the law, and they signed it.” With all these triumphs, there are still daily battles to be won. Seven years on from 12 Angry Lebanese, it remains difficult for Daccache to access Roumieh. “What I do is a bit exhausting,” she says. “It’s a miracle that we are still able to get inside. Procedures change everyday. Few can sustain this, that’s all I mean.” It’s both remarkable and admirable that she still does.

Johar… Up In The Air is being screened at Metropolis Empire Sofil, Achrafieh on December 9, 10, 11 at 8:30pm To learn more about Catharsis and its work visit

Words by Pip Usher

BOSAINA AND THE FASHION STUDIO Pop star, stylist and founder of Egypt’s boldest fashion school, A mag meets the Egyptian revolutionary attempting to overthrow Cairo’s style status quo


“The fashion scene in Cairo looks to the Western world for inspiration but they just go straight for the mainstream trends and the big names and the celebrities so it’s always a copy of a copy of a copy,” says Bosaina.

If anyone’s able to comment on the nascent scene in the Egyptian capital, it’s her. The strikingly beautiful stylist and former singer in electro-punk band Wetrobots <3, Bosaina is also the founder of The Fashion Studio, a school she opened in 2012 with a mission to push the city’s style-conscious youth in a bolder direction. Offering intensive styling courses, portfolio programmes that prep younger students for fashion and art

school applications, and a bi-annual design studio residency, Bosaina hopes that – with a gentle shove in the right direction – her fellow Egyptians’ understanding of fashion will become more nuanced, their style more individualistic and their approach to consumption more ethical. Describing herself as “emotional and radical,” Bosaina is used to her outlook jarring up against the conservative parameters of society. “I was very expressive and rebellious [in my teenage years] and it didn’t take too well in Egyptian society, which is why I left for London when I was 18,” she recalls. A three-year course at

Opposite: Bosaina pictured in Cairo by Hady El Geneidi This page and the next: A model styled by Fashion Studio graduate Hussy El Celiemy in a photoshoot by Bilo Hussein

creativity into her city’s staid ways. Her own adolescence had been shuttered by Cairo’s censorship laws; when she’d buy copies of Vogue, she remembers all the pages in each issue that had been ripped out by governmental authorities. With channels of information restricted to mainstream – and politically approved – fashion shown on celebrity network E!, she understood why the individual scene in her city was so conventional. There was, she says simply, “no alternative.” Two frustrating years as a freelance stylist and consultant followed as she battled against her clients’ blinkered mentality, trying without success to encourage them into more adventurous campaigns. Eventually she concluded that the only way she’d see any change in society’s outlook – the only way she’d topple the wall she kept hitting – was to break it down herself.

“I realised that the problem was fashion education and channels of information – that the ideas of what fashion was, and still is on the local front, were outdated and I, rather naively, thought I could start a movement,” she says. “I’ve always been fascinated by subcultures and collectives so this was my attempt at one.”

fashion institute Marangoni introduced her to inspiring teachers, but it was the capital’s counter-cultural scene that proved more impactful to her budding ideas on fashion, art and self-expression.

“The club kids were cool and I wanted to be cool,” she recalls. “It was just very new to me, eclectic London, you know? And it definitely steered me out of the conditioned tastes of Cairo. The more intimate I got with the scene there, the more exhibitions I went to, the more involved I became.” In 2010, Bosaina returned to Cairo, determined to inject some of this wild

Today, The Fashion Studio – which began after she bought two tables and fifteen chairs and then negotiated a deal with acquaintances to use their gallery space for a cut of the fees – is the only one in Egypt with an ‘Anti-Fashion’ module. Citing Comme des Garçons founder Rei Kawakubo as a personal inspiration, she also looks to the womenswear collections produced by Colombian designer Haider Ackermann and John Galliano’s theatrical reign at Dior as proof of fashion’s ability to galvanize creativity. When it comes to her own students, she hopes that exposure to such visionaries will lead Egypt’s fashion community into new territory. “Since the studio’s opening in 2012, I’ve been pushing deconstructive, futuristic, avant-garde content – some of which is now more popularly referred to as AntiFashion, especially with the rise of brands like Vetements, so at least I have that on my side,” she says. “The fact that people like Rihanna wear Vetements makes the idea an easier sell to students who are unfamiliar and would often say ‘But do people actually wear that?’”



It’s not just her students’ inexperience that can prove challenging. As a young woman, she’s aware that her age works against her – particularly in Egyptian culture, which equates age with experience. Her gender places her in a weaker position still. Rather than mimic a top-down teaching style, she’s decided to take a DIY approach to managing her students’ education, preferring instead to call herself a mentor. Patience and diplomacy have proved useful assets along the way, as have realistic expectations about what’s on offer for her students once they graduate. “Really, almost all the jobs in Cairo for stylists are commercial so I’ve learned to adapt and help them work in that environment,” she says, reflecting on the push-pull battle she faces between her personal ambitions for her students and the realities of finding employment. Organising talks with buyers at Harvey Nichols and Chanel, fashion shows in collaboration with the biggest multi-brand retail groups in Egypt, and workshops with leaders in the street-style blogging community, she is determined to give her students practical, hands-on experience with regional and international luxury brands.

For every student that pursues a conventional path, Bosaina is heartened to see others pushing back. Her first assistant, and former student, Hussy El Celiemy, drawn to his “dark moods,” now styles and art directs for local designers while another student went on to found a feminist zine. Two more alumni – photographer Batool Al Daawi and stylist Farah El Sayed – have successfully imprinted their own aesthetic on the luxury brands and celebrity clientele that they work with, convincing them to take the types of creative risk that are unseen in Egypt. Eventually, she hopes that her students will pay it forward, teaching and mentoring the next generation of Egyptians. After all, that’s how a movement starts: first one, then more, until what once seemed impossible is now commonplace. “You’re forced to work in a commercial environment, otherwise you’d never be able to make a living,” Bosaina muses. “But you can still challenge the status quo and have even a larger audience re-think their notions of what fashion is and could be.”

For more information on The Fashion Studio and how to apply for courses, visit






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Chloé sunglasses and Faye bag, Miu Miu wallet, Prada sunglasses, and Red Valentino Star Appliqué shoulder bag, Bank Audi Aïshti Mastercard


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Bee Gee is in a Marni shirt and skirt with Cartier earrings

Opposite: She’s in a dress by Dion Lee and a Azzedine Alaïa top with Prada shoes and above: Bee tries out Technogym’s Artis line

Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in pants by Sonia Rykiel

Above: Bee Gee trains with Artis Adductor by Technogym, in Céline shoes Left: She’s on the Abductor machine from the Artis line, in a Proenza Schouler dress and Jimmy Choo shoes with Cartier earrings

Above: Bee Gee uses the Artis Shoulder Press machine, wearing a David Koma bodysuit with Cartier earrings and Gianvito Rossi shoes. Her bag is CĂŠline Opposite: Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in an Alexandre Vauthier dress, Stella McCartney shoes, with Fendi bag and sunglasses, and Cartier earrings

Bee Gee wears a dress by Sonia Rykiel, bodysuit by Valentino, earrings by Cartier and shoes by Gianvito Rossi. The machine is the Omnia 8

Above: Bee Gee is about to use the Artis Leg Press machine, in an Esteban Cortázar outfit, with shoes by Céline, and earrings by Cartier Opposite: She’s working with Technogym’s Arke accessories, in a Monse top, Dior pants and shoes, with Cartier earrings

Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in sandals by Jimmy Choo Hair by Ghassan Cheib, IDay Spa Make up by Safinaz Nachar, Chanel Model Karolina @Velvet Management

This page: By the Lat machine, Bee is wearing a Tibi top, Céline pants and Gianvito Rossi shoes. Her sunglasses are Miu Miu and her earrings are Cartier Opposite: She’s in an Esteban Cortázar top with Céline pants and Cartier earrings She a playsuit by Self-Portrait Hairwears & make-up by Maria Rosa Cesardi Model Bee Gee @Fashion Model Management

Her clutch is Diane Von Furstenberg


Lea wears a Rosetta Getty poncho, Brandon Maxwell pants, bracelets by Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs, earrings by Oscar de la Renta


Aya is wearing a Jeremy Peckham dress, Dolce & Gabbana boots, Alexander Wang bracelet, Alexander McQueen scarab pins, and Sonia Rykiel Dimanche pin

Pia wears a Dior Sweater, Roberto Cavalli skirt, bracelets and rings, Prada belt and shoes and Dolce & Gabbana earrings

Mira is in a Dolce & Gabbana dress and Gucci shoes with ChloĂŠ rings, a Saint Laurent bracelet and Marni earrings

Karma is in an Alexander McQueen dress, Ermanno Scervino top, Proenza Schouler mules and Dsquared2 earrings

Andrea wears a Philosophy dress, Gucci shirt, shoes and tiara by Dolce & Gabbana, and Gucci earrings and rings



Bee Gee wears outfit by Gucci



This page: She’s in a Valentino dress and Gucci shoes She’s in pants by Sonia Rykiel Opposite: Headband is Red Valentino, top is Alexander McQueen

Her shoes are Marc Jacobs

Above: Bee Gee wears Temperley Opposite: She is in a dress and belt by Emilio Pucci

This page: Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in a dress by Jenny Packham. Her sunglasses are Dolce & Gabbana Opposite: Bee wears a Valentino dress and bag, her coat is CĂŠline

This page: Her dress is Fendi, her shoes are Gucci. Opposite: Bee Gee wears a ChloĂŠ outfit with Gucci shoes

Opposite page: Bee Gee is in a Philosophy dress with a Saint Laurent bag and Fendi shoes Hair & make-up by Maria Rosa Cesardi Model Bee Gee @Fashion Model Management


Lea Rostain and Carla Daher are M.W.A.




Lea is in a Marni dress and Gianvito Rossi shoes

Left: She’s wearing an Ashi Studio outfit with Elie Saab belt Above: Lea’s in an Ashi Studio skirt, Sonia Rykiel top with belt by Elie Saab

Carla (left) wears a suit by Racil with Ellery shirt & Lea (above) is in a Dior sweater and skirt, Jimmy Choo shoes and Yves Salomon fur

Carla and Lea are both in Sandra Mansour outfits, Lea wears Le Silla boots (left)

Carla wears Esteban Cortรกzar & Lea is in a Philosophy top and Kalmanovich skirt (right)

Clutch Dolce & Gabbana

Lea is wearing a Miu Miu top and Victoria Beckham pants with Prada shoes

Lea (left) wears a Philosophy top and skirt, Elie Saab belt

Carla (left) wears Moschino & Lea is in a CĂŠline outfit and Le Silla boots

Dress Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, boots Alberta Ferretti

Carla wears Rabih Kayrouz & Lea is in an Ellery dress Hair & make-up by Velvet Management Models: Lea Rostain @Girl Management Carla Daher




Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in Victoria Beckham pants and top, Casadei boots with an Alessandra Rich bag and bracelet by Cartier. He wears a Rosetta Getty cape, Dolce & Gabbana pants and Churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shoes

Lea wears a dress and bag by Saint Laurent with shoes by Roberto Cavalli. AndrĂŠ is in a Dolce & Gabbana top, Prada pants and shoes

Lea is in a Balenciaga dress, with boots by Casadei and Cartier jewelry. AndrĂŠ wears Emilio Pucci

AndrĂŠ and Lea wear outfits by The Kooples. She carries a Saint Laurent bag

André is in a Prada jacket and pants, Dior top and Santoni shoes. Lea wears a Prada dress with shoes by Chloé

Above: Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re both in tops by Valentino Opposite: Lea wears a Dsquared2 top, Valentino skirt and bag and Prada boots. AndrĂŠ is in Valentino with a top by Dolce & Gabbana

Lea wears a Stella McCartney dress with shoes by Céline, ring and bracelet by Cartier. André is in a Stella McCartney shirt and Canali pants with shoes by Church’s

She’s in a dress by Emilio Pucci with shoes by Chloé. He’s in a Burberry top, Emilio Pucci jacket and Jacob Cohen pants Hair & make-up by Maria Rosa Cesardi Models: Lea Rostain @Girl Management Marc André Turgeon @Success Models

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Zoe Saldana


Camper Beirut souks, Souk El Tawileh Street, Beirut central district • Aïshti by the Sea, B1 Level, Antelias • Beirut City Center, Level 1, Hazmieh

Words by Stephanie Rafanelli


Björk has been at the cutting edge of pop culture for more than 20 years. The Icelandic artist talks about losing her soulmate and following her animal instinct


“The woman is allowed to be the voice and the soul and the emotive creature — and the guy is the creator and the maker and the genius,” declares Björk, her Icelandic burr veering from Cockney Elvish to the staccato and rolled Rs of an alien dialect. “I thought it was a cliché. If someone told me that as a teenager, I would yawn and go ‘Boring!’ But it is interesting, after all the stuff I’ve done, that it still hasn’t changed that much.”

The source of her ire? Journalists who have over-credited the contribution of Venezuelan electronic producer Arca in the creation of her album Vulnicura — a harrowing autopsy of the death of her 13-year relationship with the American multi-disciplinary artist Matthew Barney — based on Björk’s 15-string arrangement. “If a guy had done all the strings, all the choir arrangements, and a lot of the production on his album, he would have credit for his work. It’s always like I’m this esoteric creature, that I just turn up and sing and go home. People still don’t seem to take me seriously as a songwriter and arranger and producer.”

I am shocked. Genius is not a word to use lightly, but if it can be applied to any female artist of the past 25 years, it must be to Björk. She has won five Brits, been nominated for 14 Grammys, and won Best Actress at Cannes for her tortured turn in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark — as well as an Oscar nod for the soundtrack. But none of this quite conveys the restless innovation of her work. Last year, MOMA in New York put on a retrospective — a testament to her artistic status. Her creation of unimaginable universes via the intersection of avantgarde music, performance art and technology is only rivalled in pop by the late David Bowie. When we meet in the wood-panelled bar of Kensington’s Gore Hotel, she’s wearing a metallic turquoise padded Tibetan-

Opposite page: The singer posing as the cover character for her 2015 album Vulnicura, created with Dutch husband-and-wife photography duo Inez and Vinoodh. Above: Björk in concert. All images courtesy Somerset House

“I GET TURNED ON BY NATURE. I DON’T FIND URBAN BROTHEL SITUATIONS VERY HOT. BUT THAT’S JUST MY TASTE... LIKE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PORN.” style jacket and platforms, with a strip of shimmering rose fabric draped through a necklace of bone trinkets. The Rolling Stones look like embarrassingly dated dads staring down from photos on the wall.

“My mum’s generation was really good in the 1970s with protesting,” she continues. “Then for my generation, the best proof that women can do what they want, was just to go out and get things done. That’s always been the best way for me to be a strong woman. But in the past three or four years, there’s been a new wave of feminism, especially with girls in their 20s. I thought: ‘Okay, now is the time to moan.’” Of course, Björk’s ‘moaning’ sounds more wondrous than most. It takes the form of Vulnicura Strings, an orchestral arrangement of her album of the same name, which she has promoted with two acoustic dates in London last September — at the Royal Albert Hall and the Hammersmith Apollo — as “the best way that I could support me as a female producer and a female arranger”. She followed this up by publishing her own handwritten scorebook for Vulnicura in November as authorial ‘proof’.

In fact, I have always considered her work to be feminist because she has always been so self-defining. Where sex has been a subject, she has circumvented the mainstream tropes that most female singers become entangled in. “I like a lot of erotic books and films but I just don’t find the kind of Las Vegas corset-and-fishnetstockings thing very sexy. It’s a bit mediocre, norm-core.” She also finds the natural world an aphrodisiac. “I like bestiality. I get turned on by nature. I don’t find urban brothel situations very hot. But that’s just my taste... like, National Geographic porn.” I say I’ve always had a thing for David Attenborough with whom she made a documentary in 2013. She chuckles: “I’m probably more into the animals.” Björk’s avant-garde art, in all its forms, has a habit of making everything around her appear pedestrian. Yet in person, she is gentle, thoughtful and unassuming, leaping up and down to the bar to order more coffee to soothe a hangover — she was up late with friends in her hotel room last night celebrating the end of her shows. “I did only a limited number of gigs. I thought:


Björk starred — through the New York art scene in the late 1990s. They lived in a penthouse co-op in Brooklyn Heights, one of the city’s most intriguing and creative couples. In the album artwork, Björk appears with a fatal purple gash at her chest, impaled by a halo of plastic spines that resemble acupuncture needles in a kind of self-surgery. Did she cure herself? “Yeah, I think so. It’s not about erasing things. You overcome them and you exorcise them. I think looking back on it, now that some time has passed, it was the fact that it was a long-term relationship, you know? I mean, it was 13 years.”

When she first saw Barney’s work, she said it was “the closest thing to seeing my dreams.” So the loss of a husband was also that of a creative soulmate? “I think the soulmate thing for me distributes over quite a lot of people. I have a really good group of girlfriends and most of them are artists as well. I think the biggest death for me was the death of this idea of family. I have a big family in Iceland, and they all have long-term partners and children.” ‘I’m not going to sing this a thousand times. There’s a really thin line when it becomes too self-indulgent. The way I did it was I started to write my next album and worked on a series of VR videos so that they could travel [on my behalf].’” 270

The result is Björk: Digital, a virtual reality installation at London’s Somerset House, which feels like being taken inside her grief-stricken mind. Exhibits include Black Lake, her immersive film commissioned by MOMA, and Notget VR, in which she is reduced to a black wading figure in an illuminated moth mask. The digital standins, the techno-masks and the cloaks and shields of protective clothing are all testaments to the difficulties of performing an album born of the personal apocalypse of her split in 2013; something she felt compelled to forensically ‘document’, as a ‘survival mechanism’. She first met Barney, an American surrealist filmmaker and sculptor — who has exhibited everywhere from MOMA to the Venice Biennale and in whose film Drawing Restraint 9, set on an Icelandic whaling ship,

This page, top: The poster for the Somerset House exhibition of immersive virtual reality entitled 'Björk Digtial,' photographed by Nick Knight Right: Live at Carnegie Hall Opposite page: Live at the Manchester International Festival

She has found solace in a new musical family. These include, yes, Arca (who is based in Dalston and has also collaborated with Kanye West and FKA Twigs), as well as the mask-maker James Merry. “That’s the good thing with being so obsessed with music, you’ve always got other nerds who are obsessing, too. It’s kind of ageless.” Indeed, Björk has always recruited a team of collaborators to help realise her visions, among them the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen (she sung at his memorial service in wooden wings) and director Michel Gondry. Perhaps this is why, despite clear authorship of her own work, she has often been considered the female vessel to male genius. “I’ve never bragged about my arrangements in my albums, or my production work,” she says simply.

Growing up in 1960s on the outskirts of Reykjavík with six brothers and sisters, her imagination was fed by the solitary landscapes of Iceland. She hailed from a family of ‘craftspeople and knitters’ — though her father was an electrician and union leader, and her mother a hippie and environmental protestor. Both the safety of Iceland at the time and the countercultural leanings of her mother — with whom she lived after the couple split up when she was a baby — afforded Björk infinite freedom.

At six, she walked a 45-minute journey to school, where she studied flute and piano. She was a musical prodigy, composing symphonies, making beats out of the sound of her grandfather snoring; her voice so singular that when a teacher sent a recording of her aged 11 to a local radio station, she was immediately offered an album deal by local label, Fálkinn Records. The self-titled Björk was released in 1977, and was successful enough that she was offered a second deal. She refused, instead forming her own, predominantly punk and post-punk, bands before meeting Þór Eldon, her future boyfriend and father of her son Sindri, born in 1986 (both now live in Iceland and dabble in music). She formed the surrealist pop group Kukl (meaning sorcery), which eventually evolved into smart indie collective, The Sugarcubes. When they went on tour, Björk took Sindri with her. “Iceland is a matriarchal country. I could do pretty much what I wanted there. It was only when I went abroad that I hit walls,” she adds. When The Sugarcubes broke up in 1992, she moved to London where she was quickly signed for a solo deal with Massive Attack producer, Nellee Hooper. Along with PJ Harvey, she became one of the few female artists blazing trails through the ladism of Britpop. She

dated trip-hop’s Tricky and drum’n’bass’s Goldie, was pursued by a phalanx of paparazzi, but soon became weary of the scene. “I felt very blessed with being invited to all the A-list parties so that I could try it for a year and know that there is nothing to miss. It’s not what it looks like. They’re really boring. Everyone is standing there frozen and you can’t move, you can’t get pissed. Most importantly, the music is terrible at those parties. Horrible. And then soon there were 40 paparazzi hiding in my bushes. I thought: ‘I can’t write songs like this.’” After an incident with an acid letter bomb from a deranged fan, which was intercepted by the police, she moved to Spain to work on her third album Homogenic, withdrawing from the celebrity milieu that threatened to contaminate her music. “I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to be dependent on being liked.” Although she was based in New York with Barney, Iceland has always been her creative sanctuary. Since the split, she and Isadora, their 14-year-old daughter, divide their time between an apartment in Brooklyn Heights, her lo-fi crafty home in Reykjavík and a cabin near Lake Þingvallavatn, an hour’s drive north-east, where she hikes and works. “I always thought it was really strange when people said that Greta Garbo was anti-social. I never got that [about being an artist]. I mean, if you are going to write music about being human: you know we cook, we love each other, we fall out, we laugh, we cry — and you are writing in a village somewhere, it’s actually more human embracing.” I wonder how she feels about living in New York now in the light of the break-up. “It’s always been compromising


Above: Björk DJing at her concert in Sydney, photographed by Santiago Felipe and, left, DJing in Tokyo


for me. There’s a lot of pollution, there are terrorist attacks, and the Sandy Hook Massacre happened at a school that is a 40-minute drive from me. There’s not a lot of outdoor space. But I’ve met some of my best friends there. So it’s a complicated place.” Any mother would have concerns in the current American landscape, I say. But she’s uncomfortable now, a little defensive — and she has every right to be. There’s been talk in the press about a custody battle between herself and Barney, with the latter reportedly suing his former partner, accusing her of sacrificing their daughter’s ‘emotional wellbeing in favour of her own selfish desires’. She is understandably vigilant about another long-term relationship — the one she has had with her own voice. In 2012, she had an operation to remove a polyp from her throat. “My throat is my strongest thing, but also my weakest most fragile thing.” Sometimes, she adds,

“towards the end of a tour I can’t speak between gigs, when I’ve been like that for two days I get this kind of negative space around my mouth. And then I go ‘Waaaaa!’ when the last gig has finished”.

She is also protective about the direction of the new album: “I’d like to keep that a mystery,” she says, as if the output of her extraordinary, protean mind could be anything else. Genius must protect itself, after all. AĂŻshti by the Sea, Antelias T. 04 71 77 16 ext. 273 and all AĂŻzone stores T. 01 99 11 11 Produced and distributed by Cristiano di Thiene Spa

Words by Victoria Moss


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Opposite page: Moncler’s autumn/winter 16-17 ad campaign Right: Moncler’s sub-brand Gamme Bleu, led by American designer Thom Browne Below: Remo Ruffini, Moncler’s chairman and CEO

Moncler’s Remo Ruffini on the rise of the Italian house The Moncler HQ in central Milan is a sexy, black, shiny sort of place threaded through with a mixture of slightly kitsch Alpine and Roman references: on the wall of the reception area hangs a giant picture of grey undulating slopes; on a glistening black coffee table in front of it sits a white faux-ancien sculpture of a horse’s head.

Upstairs on the fourth floor at a meticulously tidy boardroom table sits Remo Ruffini, the neatly attired (navy shirt, navy trousers) 53-year-old chairman

and CEO, who 14 years ago saw the possibility in a long-neglected and devalued brand, and turned its brash, colourful down jackets into the ultimate luxury necessity, capitalising on the fashion-ification of skiwear without compromising on technical prowess.

Ruffini is the the personification of Moncler, the perfect example of having to live your brand if you want to understand it and see it succeed. He grew up by Lake Como (where he still lives with his wife; the couple have two sons, both in their 20s, both working in finance), a short drive from the mountains where he learnt to ski – and to obsess over a niche French winter outfitter called Moncler. He saw its jackets every morning on his way to school; he persuaded his mother to buy him one when he was 14. The seed was planted. When Ruffini bought the company in 2002 it was, in his words, ‘not in good condition’. Production had been moved to Madagascar, quality was poor, and – crucially for the increasingly style-conscious ski set – there was nothing cool about it. His plan was to take the label, founded near Grenoble at the foot of the French Alps, back to its heyday in the 1950s and 60s, when it kitted out climbers, eventually producing jackets inspired by feather sleeping bags.

Having attired famed mountaineers, Moncler dressed the French Olympic ski team in 1968, nudging the brand into public consciousness and marking its move from the slopes to the street. Ruffini looked at the archives. He revived the distinctive logo (blue and red peaks with a cockerel, and a bold capitalised brand name), moved production to the Veneto area of Italy, and focused on returning its key asset – the down jacket – into pole position. Gradually he brought in collaborators and diversified the brand into several lines – a canny move that sought to offer the world of Moncler to every demographic. For him, this is all about “energy”. “I needed different energy and creativity to attract different people,” Ruffini explains. “We don’t have one chief designer. It’s easy for us to talk to different customers. It’s important to understand the mentality of the Chinese and the Americans, because we’re worldwide. They want something consistent but also something new.” Ruffini says it is important to maintain the classic looks his fans expect, while enticing new customers with fresh looks at the same time. “It’s not easy,” he admits. His strategy is to bring in diverse talents.




Alongside the established sub-brands Moncler Gamme Bleu (the directional high-fashion line led by American designer Thom Browne), Moncler Grenoble (the highspec technical collection) and Moncler Man (the core collection), this season he introduces Moncler O – a two-season collaboration with cult streetwear label Off-White – plus FriendsWithYou, a capsule collection with the LA-based artist duo of Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, inspired by the colourful Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. “It was a very happy project,” says Ruffini. The Off-White venture will have streetwear aficionados heading to Moncler stores in droves. It is a clever appropriation of the brand – the logo is blown up into an oversize rubberised yellow emblem placed on the arm of outsized black down jackets; there are chic grey body warmers and hefty workman’s boots. The collection oozes cool, and firmly casts Moncler as something of a must-have.

For Ruffini it’s the mix that is interesting. He says, “In most stores you can find a guy who’s 20 years old buying a jacket, as well as one who’s 70 years old. The mix of energy of different people and ages is something that belongs to us.” Ruffini’s success is keen: three years ago, when Moncler was floated on the Borsa Italiana stock exchange, he became a billionaire. In

the first fiscal half of 2016, Moncler’s revenue went up 17% to a record €346.5 million. That’s a lot of down jackets. But it’s also testament to his skill at keeping an eye on a volatile luxury market. “We’re luxury but we’re not a fashion brand,” he says. “We’re not trying to change our face every season. We do something contemporary but also consistent – products you can use for five to 10 years. We do everything on our own, which is good because we control the process, but it is also tricky.” The brand has spawned many imitators. “It’s not a competition,” says Ruffini. “Down jackets are everywhere, from £15,000 ones at Hermès to some for £80. But we try to be the best in relation to price and quality.” What makes Moncler so special? “It’s not only the product,” Ruffini says. “It’s the marketing idea, too. But the product is important: we go to the best mills in Japan; we have the best feather suppliers. It’s a delicate product but in some ways very simple. The ski collection is very technical. It needs to be lightweight and high-performance – 100% water – and windproof but comfortable at the same time. We work with special stitching. We do it better and better and better.”

The production process is extraordinarily focused: the down is precisely weighed so that jackets carry no more weight than necessary; it is then injected directly into each section of the jacket, which is then finished by hand. There’s a reason these are the best. In this way, Ruffini has been able to exploit the summer market for the first time, with an expanded ready-towear collection that hits the mark for the stylish sun-


This page and previous: Moncler Grenoble’s autumn/winter 16-17 collection and catwalk show


“Before, people going skiing were dressed as skiers. Now they wear everything” seeker. An ultra-light summer down jacket is something that can be screwed up in a bag for travelling, to be worn as a layering item when the temperature drops. Damien Paul, head of menswear at Matches Fashion, attests, “With the various lines Moncler produces, there really is something for everyone with fantastic quality and craftsmanship.” Paul also notes that there is more to the company than jackets. “Lifestyle pieces often sell out,” he says. “Moncler has also recently invested in accessories and footwear, and this is an area that is growing season upon season.”

Crucially, Ruffini is in essence his own customer. He knows the international Easter-on-the-slopes, summer-on-a-boat crowd because he’s part of it. He knows precisely who is buying Moncler. “The mood of skiers has changed drastically in the past five years,” he says. “Before, people going skiing were dressed as skiers. Now they wear everything. They don’t want 25 colours on the jacket. They want wool, so we’ve created a 100% waterproof wool. It’s important to understand what the customer is looking for,” says the man who drives out to St Moritz every weekend when it’s the season (and he notes that 20-30% of skiers he sees have a Moncler jacket, which he finds “very satisfying”).

He likes the classic haunts – El Paradiso (“the view is amazing”), Bella Vista and Badrutt’s Palace hotel (“I like to go there to have a drink before supper”). Like his customers, Ruffini is exacting. His diary pings with appointments by the hour. He travels continually. “I take one bag on the plane,” he says of his cabin-sized suitcase (from the Rimowa-Moncler collaboration, of course). Abroad, he spends half his time working, the other half walking (his core exercise since throwing his back out playing squash) and people-watching. “For me to sit in a bar for two hours and watch whoever comes in is very interesting,” he says. “I see their attitude, what bag they have, the way they move. You feel the mood.” When in London he stocks up on William Lockie Scottish cashmere. “It takes me 10 minutes: I know the size, the colour. I don’t try them on. I know what I’m looking for,” he says, smiling, before moving onto the next appointment in his buzzing iPhone calendar. Moncler is available at Aïshti and Aïshti by the Sea

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Photography by Tony Elieh



Above: D Beirut’s façade in Bourj Hammoud, near the seaside road. Below: An interior shot of the D Beirut space

Karim Bekdache in his office and gallery space, the Karim Bekdache Studio, at D Beirut

Beirut is a thriving hotbed of contemporary design. Wonder how it got there? A Mag senior editor Nadine Khalil investigates the rise of the city’s new design collectives

Eric Jureidini, owner of the D Beirut building, on the top floor where his company Solarco is based

D BEIRUT It’s October 2016 and the D Beirut launch party is in full swing. The capital’s creatives and artists, hipsters and fitness freaks are in attendance, sipping drinks and nibbling crispy seaweed snacks as pulsating beats boom about them. The venue – a massive, all-white, airy industrial space framed by wraparound, grid-like, ceiling-high windows – is the latest creative (and collective) studiospace to open in the city, housing designers and architects, a fashion label, a photographer’s production studio, as well as a yoga centre. Located in the backend of Bourj Hammoud, adjacent to Karantina, a former industrial zone on the seaside road, D Beirut embodies a new dynamism that’s emerging in the cultural infrastructure of the design scene: the dynamism of collaboration and shared spaces that enable new ideas for the sake of the greater good.

“We wanted to build a creative community,” says founder and owner of D Beirut, Eric Jureidini, the man whose idea it was to do something with the space. His custom kitchen-manufacturing firm, Solarco, is located on D’s top floor. The implicit idea is that D might have a knock-on effect and lead to the creation of a new arts district on the outskirts of Beirut proper, after the near-saturation of Mar Mikhael, and following in the footsteps of the SfeirSemler Gallery and Bernard Khoury’s eponymous architecture firm located in a similar former factory not far away.


Fashion designer Garen Demirdjian’s showroom, whose work is a cross between 18th century styles and futurism with a lot of fur and leather accents


Jureidini’s collaborator, and the man behind the workspace’s interior design, architect Karim Bekdache, agrees. His interior architecture company has also taken up residence in D Beirut after being based in Mar Mikhael for the past eight years. His section of the building is filled with a vast collection of vintage furniture that he collects and trades. “It’s rare to find a factory space that’s at the crossroads, in this case connecting the Sfeir-Semler gallery island to the Aïshti Foundation. Plus, we are a collective entity so it isn’t the same as going out of your way to visit an art gallery that is just that alone,” says Bekdache, who has managed to create a wonderfully coherent aesthetic, retaining the industrial feel and expansive volume of the original 2,500 square-metre steel factory, with its concrete floors and massive beams across the ceiling, formerly used to stack the steel.

Alongside Solarco and Bekdache, D Beirut houses state-of-the-art yoga studio, Yoga Souk, founded by Sarah Trad and Tina Pakradouni. Boasting an ultra-minimalist, white interior designed by Bernard Khoury and Danielle Makhoul, Yoga Souk invites guest yoga practitioners from the around the world to come and teach at the premises, a relatively unique concept in Beirut. Every week, the ground floor hosts winter parties with international DJs from club promoters Decks on the Beach. There’s

Inside D Beirut

also contemporary design gallery Carwan, founded by Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte and Pascale Wakim, known for their crosscultural design collaborations between Lebanese and international talents. D Beirut’s other creative tenants comprise avant-garde fashion designer Garen Demirdjian; multi-disciplinary designer and consultant Raafat Karimeh; established (and eclectic) interior designer Vick Vanlian; and prominent photographer Roger Moukarzel’s Minime Production studio. “I was one of the first to move to Karantina, a pre-cursor if you will,” Moukarzel says,

Roger Moukarzel, in his Minime Production studio


Pascale Wakim in Carwan Gallery, which she founded with Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte

speaking out of a van that he has installed in his space, which also functions as a photo booth. “But after 11 years (in my original venue), I was searching for a larger space – a collective one – to be in the same environment with other creatives.”

If D Beirut goes in the anticipated direction, there’ll be a clamouring from other creatives knocking to get in, and that new arts neighbourhood might just happen.


Cherine Magrabi at the Yacht Club, the site of House of Today’s December 2016 exhibition


HOUSE OF TODAY One of the most important people, indeed perhaps the key player, in Lebanon’s contemporary design scene, is Cherine Magrabi whose non-profit organisation House of Today brings together local designers into a cohesive network, and who was the first person to identify the need for designers to join forces in order to forge a strong presence in the industry. Established in 2012, HoT’s founding mission was to discover the country’s emerging designers and artisans and showcase their work, and to date she’s collaborated with not only new artists but also the already recognised names to great success. “I noticed that whenever I needed designers to collaborate on (my own) projects, I would only hear about one or two. At the time, you didn’t hear about the Lebanese design scene as a whole, you heard of Nada Debs, for instance,” she says during an interview from her downtown Beirut offices. “But with time, I began to discover relatively unknown talents and thought to myself it’s a shame they aren’t more visible and they work alone. I wanted to call on them as a group to design around a theme.” HoT puts on biennial exhibitions where designers are tasked with creating individual

and new products following often-provocative themes. The first such show in 2012 was themed Confessions: The Secret is Out, and her second in 2014, Naked: Beyond the Social Mask. Magrabi says many of the submissions for the show this December (Dec 8-29 at the Yacht Club), Jungle Protocol: Tradition and Etiquette, are a humorous, ironic take on contemporary Lebanese society. “We’ve moved away from an experience and expression of war,” Magrabi says. “I remember for my first exhibit, Rabih Kayrouz made a candle in the form of a grenade – but designers have come to realise that though collectors may be interested in the story, how much would anyone actually want to purchase a product that is war-related today?” In other words, if collective collaborations are to work, the products have to be desired, or rather have the ability to be sold, otherwise the industry isn’t sustainable. “We are run as an NGO but it’s not like we are saving lives here,” Magrabi says wryly. “So we’re happy if we can get funds, but we also want to support good projects that sell.” When it works, HoT is able to promote rising Lebanese designers globally – Magrabi helped designer/artist Najla El Zein to get her Wind Portal installation into London’s V&A in 2013, and Carlo Massoud’s Arab Dolls to New York’s Armory Show last year – the first time the prestigious art fair has exhibited a product design installation.

SQUAD DESIGN The sheer number of talented Lebanese designers coming out of Beirut and the country is part of the reason why new collectives are appearing. According to a 2016 report released by the MENA Design Research Centre during Beirut Design Week this year, between 2000 and 2015, the number of design graduates has increased by 300% and in the last four years, the number of designers has more than doubled.


Doreen Toutikian, who heads both the research centre and Beirut Design Week, attributes this to the global push towards entrepreneurship, the explosion of design weeks all over the world, a genuine fascination with the region, and the local trend-conscious generation in Lebanon that wants to be part of an international design movement. Also, as one foreign ambassador once told her, “objects are safe” and therefore, investing in design becomes a secure bet, a non-politicised export. Danielle Salameh, from the Squad Design collective launched in 2014, extends this

The unassuming façade of Squad Design– based out of a wood factory’s premises

point further: “Though it’s not easy to be a designer – it won’t make you rich – in Beirut, you’re surrounded by them. They want to have their share of history and leave a mark. They want to make things. Squad Design is here to help empower them; we want other countries to notice that they are here.” Operating in total guerilla fashion, right down to their premises, which have no signage beyond a spray-painted ‘Wood Factory’ on the façade (actually the sign of a 20-year-old company from which the collective emerged), Squad’s objective is to help designers with production. “We noticed that many designers face difficulties in executing their pieces, going from one craftsman to another. The aim of Squad

Above: Left, Joe Bou Abboud’s Derwiche lamps, and right, Majd Bazerji’s Pac-Man tables

is to shine light on the new talents and help them along the way,” Salameh says – designers like Joe Bou Abboud who created the well-known sculptural Derwiche lamps made from wood that emulate whirling dervishes; and Majd Bazerji and his playful Pac-Man tables. As with House of Today, Squad scouts for talent through call-outs ­– like their recent inventive game box competition. But where Squad uses its expertise in working with artisans to support the designers, Magrabi points out that this approach often carries a lot of constraints: “I soon realised that it doesn’t enable designers to work freely because they end up designing objects based on what artisans can or can’t do,” Magrabi says.

international movement that exists and we want to grow.”



The limitations that exist in working with craftspeople have led to new ways of making things. This is perhaps best exemplified by the Beirut Makers, an open collective that hit the scene at 2015’s Beirut Design Week with the slogan: “Making is a Political Movement.” Part of the popular global maker movement, which is to designers what hacker culture is to computer engineers, it operates on the premise that designers can be complete owners of the manufacturing process. Started in Beirut by Canadianborn Guillaume Crédoz, who was one of the first people to work with 3D printers in Lebanon (with Rapid Manufactory), it’s very much tech-driven.

“Being a maker opens up possibilities because if you only use the same craftsmen, you’ll end up with products that all look the same,” says Crédoz. “Our first exhibition in 2015 was about affordable design through digital fabrication and therefore addressed another category of consumers. It was also an attack against the design establishment… by selling what normally would be a $5,000 chair at $100 because the prototype is designed electronically first and you don’t have to rely on artisanal work as much.”

I meet Crédoz in Beirut Makers’ new (and very much dusty work-in-progress) workshop space, on a hill near Mkalles, where his collaborators Farid Harb from the architecture and design office Ghouyoum, and Stephanie Bachir, join us. Harb is known for his chairs made out of abandoned seat belts, while Bachir’s first series of tables are based on biometrics. While the three trained as architects, they perhaps best answer my question of why choose a collective over independence and self-promotion as a designer. As Bachir succinctly puts it: “We aren’t interested in becoming star designers. We want to be part of a community that shares information, knowledge, and expertise. We’re also shedding light in Beirut on an

“Design is more immediate than architecture,” Harb says. “It’s like I can look around the room I live in and see what might be missing, or wonder, can I make a better table?” This resonates with Toutikian’s assertion of design as problem-finding rather than problem-solving, as a practice that exists beyond the aesthetic value of an object. “It asks questions such as: how can we create a better city to live in and improve the quality of our lives? How can we be more inclusive?” she says. “These are things that matter to everyone.” Which is probably why the last Beirut Design Week tackled the trash crisis and issues of sustainability. “I see the Lebanese designers as pioneers and innovators in the region, and the question for me is, how can we remain as such?” Toutikian says. It’s a good question. For now, the dominant aesthetic that comes across in Lebanon’s design culture is one that strikes a delicate balance between the raw material and the industrial, the tech-driven and the artisanal – a contemporary-cosmopolitan look that doesn’t totally abnegate craft. It’s utilitarian, minimalist, edgy and most of all, collaborative. No wonder it’s taken off. For more information visit:

Doreen Toutikian, founder of Beirut Design Week and director of MENA Design Research Centre

Guillaume CrĂŠdoz in the new collaborative working space for Beirut Makers


Stephanie Bachir at Beirut Makers

Farid Harb, from the architecture and design studio Ghoyoum, stands next to his safety belt chair at the Beirut Makersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; space




The work of Sebastião Salgado needs little introduction. His images are powerful, bold, beautiful, unsettling, and moving in a way only masters of the craft can achieve. They allow the viewer (as critical thinker Susan Sontag has suggested) to understand collective suffering through the medium of photography, to interrogate the limits of our sympathy and empathy, and most of all to shed light on what it means to be human. To mark TASCHEN’s launch of Exodus, a new and updated edition of the Brazilian photographer’s seminal collection of black and white photographs of migrant peoples first published 16 years ago, A Mag presents a selection of images from the book. Be they Latin Americans entering the United States, Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach Europe Opposite: Refugee from the Zepa enclave in Kladanj, central Bosnia, 1995

Continued on page 292



across the Mediterranean Sea or Hutu refugees from Rwanda, Salgado captures many often heart-stopping moments of migratory movement with a spectacular eye for detail in his signature chiaroscuro palette. Taken over a period of six years at the turn of the millennium during which the former economist visited more than 35 countries to document displacement on roads, in camps and in overcrowded city slums, the faces he meets present the ravaged marks of violence, hatred and greed but also dignity and compassion in the most bitter of circumstances. In our hyperreal times as we enter 2017, where demagogues rule, human tragedies dominate the news and the movement of people across the globe is unprecedented, Salgadoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pictures from the turn of the millennium prove more relevant than ever and cry out not only for our heightened awareness but also for responsibility and engagement. Exodus by SebastiĂŁo Salgado is available from and all good bookshops

Above: Orphanage in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, 1994 Below: Ivankovo Camp (in railroad cars), in eastern Croatia, 1994



Above: Rwandan refugee camp of Benako, Tanzania, 1994 Below: Church Gate Station in Mumbai (Bombay), India, 1995

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All images courtesy of Kour Pour and S. Elle Quintana


Dragons and Genies, a carpet painting by Kour Pour

From Huguette Caland’s house to MOCA via Little Tokyo, academic, writer and current Los Angeles resident, Shiva Balaghi, explores the City of Angels’ cultural scene alongside renowned Anglo-Iranian artist Kour Pour “Los Angeles is a city of transplants,” the artist Kour Pour tells me. “Everything here is from someplace else. Even the iconic LA palm trees were imported.” I am an East Coast transplant, settling into a new life in Los Angeles, drawn to the city by its reinvigorated art scene. The city is experiencing an economic boom that has stimulated a cultural regeneration. Last spring, the Broad Museum opened as an architectural counterpart to the Frank Gehry designed concert hall just across the street. The two buildings anchor downtown LA’s art district – blocks of galleries and alternative art spaces, warehouses converted to artist lofts, urban walls covered with colourful murals. But LA’s eclectic creative community is hardly contained in one district; it is dispersed across its sprawling cityscape.

To get a sense of the cultural map of Los Angeles, I ask Pour to show me a slice of his city. He grew up in Exeter, a small town in England, to an immigrant Iranian father and a British mother. The family moved to Los Angeles when he was a teenager. This sense of being a part of various cultures frames Kour’s art. In this respect, Pour is very much a measure of a younger generation of LA artists. “I think of LA as a collection of small little worlds that come together,” he says.

Pour is best known for his intricately detailed carpet paintings. He draws on the composition of traditional Persian carpets, but fills the canvas with his own

cosmopolitan iconography. There are traces of Persian miniatures, references to Picasso’s odalisques and influences of Japonisme.

The very first carpet painting Pour made was based on a rug that he grew up with as a child at home; in England his father used to run a carpet shop. He’s also spent time at the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA),

Kour Pour in his LA studio



“[CALAND] USED TO TELL ME I LOOK LIKE A PERSIAN MINIATURE” admiring the historic Ardabil Carpet that dates from the 16th century. But Pour also credits the influence of the Lebanese artist Huguette Caland with stimulating his interest in rugs and textiles. Pour met Caland when he was fresh out of art school. The two developed a close creative relationship – she mentored Pour, and he helped her with some of her paintings. “We had this connection,” Pour recalls. “We were both artists in LA with this Middle Eastern background. She used to tell me I looked like a Persian miniature.”


A Kour Pour painting hanging in the staircase of Huguette Caland’s home in LA

So Pour decided to begin our tour of Los Angeles at Caland’s home. “I was born Lebanese. I became French by marriage and American by choice,” Caland is known to have said. The daughter of Lebanon’s first president, Caland moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980s to create a space in which she could come into her own, as an artist. She has lived and worked here for three decades and her symbiotic artistic relationship with Los Angeles is only just being properly recognised. The city coloured her art, and she influenced its cultural landscape. This past spring, the Hammer Museum’s exhibition, Made in LA – something akin to the city’s own biennale – devoted an entire gallery to Caland’s artwork. “Through lines apparent in Huguette Caland’s work,” the curators wrote, “the female body, eroticism, her own preoccupations with desire, to

name a few – represent, in many respects, the joyously defiant output of an artist whose tendency was to be provocative through beauty and an engagement with taboo themes.”

In Venice, an area of the city popular with artists, Caland built what an LA Times critic called “the quintessential artist’s house.” When we arrived, Pour led me past imposing concrete walls that surround the house and along a stone pathway leading to a large, aged, wooden Moorish door painted a bright green. We walked into an airy space filled with light. Large windows open the living space onto a garden filled with blooming plants and sculptures centred around a long lap pool. Caland, Pour tells me, keeps the water ice cold and goes swimming every afternoon to get energized for more work in her studio.

In Caland’s studio, two assistants were busy organising, preserving, and cataloguing her art – painted portraits, erotic drawings, and softly coloured abstract paintings. Some of the signature caftans Caland designed for Pierre Cardin in the 1970s were hanging in garment bags. Opening a drawer, we carefully looked at some of the artist’s textile works. Against a backdrop of deeply hued fabric, she’s drawn intensely layered linear designs. “Our house

in Lebanon,” Caland once said, “was full of rugs. My mother and my father loved rugs. I never thought of that association, but I see it in my work. It’s all about rugs and fabric and tapestry and old things.”

Caland’s house is itself a work of art. She has painted a mural on the kitchen wall – a colourful patchwork of whimsical portraits against intricately graphic patterns. Along a central staircase, Caland hung hundreds of artworks made by her friends. It’s an intimate, personal gallery, but also a reflection of the artistic life of Los Angeles in recent decades. Years ago, Caland acquired some works by Pour, among the first paintings he ever sold. She hung them in that staircase alongside artworks by her friends Ed Moses, Larry Bell, and Kenny Price. Caland had an influence on Pour which I’m still trying to flesh out – in her incorporation of rugs and textiles into painting, the way she organised her studio, her way of living as an artist. As we leave Venice, Pour steers his car along the freeway towards downtown. “We’re heading to MOCA now,” he tells me. But rather than visiting the

museum, Pour takes me to nearby Little Tokyo, the centre of the largest Japanese community in North America. Bright red lanterns are strung from buildings that echo the architecture of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. After lunch in a small sushi restaurant, Pour and I walk through the neighbourhood peering into shop windows. He pulls me into a favourite store to pick through Japanese knick-knacks – Hello Kitty stickers, stuffed animals, cosmetics and snacks. We stop in front of a shelf full of small cat figurines. Some are made of gold coloured plastic, others of white ceramic. A few are battery-powered, with the cats’ paws slowly moving up and down. “Is this where you bought the little toy you keep in your studio?” I ask Pour, who nods smilingly. The maneki-neko is a talisman, believed to bring good luck. “It’s past two,” Pour says. “We better head out.” It’s a bit of an obsession in LA, trying to predict traffic flows across the city. We drive north along the Pacific Coast Highway towards the Getty Villa, perched on a cliff overlooking the sea in Malibu. Pour and I stop for a moment to look down the wooded mountains framing a view of the sea. Like Beirut, Los Angeles is nestled between the mountains and the sea. A natural tranquility flows through its urban grit. We walk through the villa’s gardens filled with fragrant thyme, pomegranate trees and bubbling fountains. Inside, we find a room filled with ancient Egyptian artefacts. We pause to look at a case filled with Fayum portraits. They are reminders of how art endures, how history lives on, and how humanity itself is a beautiful patchwork. Pour leads a path past an array of Greek and Roman antiquities to show me his favourite piece in the museum. We come upon Kouros, a tall marble sculpture of a naked young man, standing on an oval plinth in the middle of a dimly lit gallery. Curly hair frames its face and falls into long braids down its back, its nose chipped.

Labyrinth, a carpet painting by Kour Pour

“Kouros, Kour,” I say smiling in recognition. As Pour tells me the story of the sculpture, he mimics its posture, with his hands at his sides and one foot stepping forward. Kouroi represented the physical ideal of the ancient Greeks. But there have been questions about the authenticity of the Getty Kouros. Its museum label reads, “Greek, about 530 B.C., or modern forgery.” Like much of what we see in LA, the statue may or may not be real, but it has acquired its own legend. Though scientists and art historians still debate its origins, one thing we know for certain is that Kouros is a transplant. As famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”


Words by Rayane Abou Jaoude


The story of Martyrs’ Square is the story of Lebanon itself – a site of political, social and economic struggle and upheaval that took its name in the 1930s to commemorate those executed under Ottoman rule. The current bullet-scarred statue in the square’s centre constructed in 1960 was on the front lines during the Lebanese Civil War, and has since witnessed angry protests, neighbouring office and apartment construction, and traffic congestion. By 2021 it should be witnessing something quite different however, something more positive: the creation of the Beirut City Museum on the site of the ancient ruins that run beneath the square.

It had always been in Solidère’s (the joint-stock company responsible for the rebuilding of downtown Beirut) and the Ministry of Culture’s master plan for the city centre – a simple, transparent structure that would emphasise the archaeological site and provide a desperately needed safe, open space for pedestrians. “The question was how to get it done,” says Amira Solh, Solidère’s lead urban planner on the project.

In 2008, things started moving apace and the Ministry

of Culture received a grant from the Kuwait Fund for the construction of the museum while Solidère is financing both the architecture and the museology. The Paris-based Renzo Piano Building Workshop was commissioned to design it and the influential Italian architect, famous for his big museum commissions around the world and who was already working on an assessment of Martyrs’ Square’s urban design, took on the project with gusto. “At the time Renzo was very keen on having one vision that integrates Martyrs’ Square with the museum and the Ancient Tell archaeological park. His vast museum expertise from around the world made him the ideal choice that would bring so much to Beirut,” Solh says. Piano visited the site in 2009, and it was its martyrdom aspect that appealed to him the most – what it stood for within the city’s violent history, and the efforts to restore its identity.

“This is a really beautiful city for him, he associated Beirut with Berlin and Sarajevo, a martyrs’ city,” Antoine Chaaya, Partner and Director at RPBW, says. “The analogy between these three cities is due to the fact that they all had a great past. They suffered from war, which demolished them. In this sense, they are

Images courtesy of the Renzo Piano Building Workshop




A rendering of the Beirut City Museum overlooking the Tell site

martyrs’ cities in that they were reborn from their own ashes with energy and determination.” The culmination was Piano’s overarching vision for the museum: the Ancient Tell site and Martyrs’ Square as one thread, with the site representing the ancient past and Martyrs’ Square the recent past. Both are part of Beirut’s history and memory, with the museum serving as a link.

The final museum, set to be completed by 2021, will stand between the Tell site, thought to be the first human settlement in the city during the Canaanite time period, and the Petit Serail, a former administrative Ottoman building. Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world, carrying 5,000 years of history through the diverse civilizations that built it – Phoenicians, Hellenists, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Persians and Ottomans – and Chaaya describes the entire scheme as “a machine to revisit time.”

More than anything however, the area needed to be directly accessible to pedestrians, which is where the basic yet ingenious idea of constructing a piazza around

the museum came from. This will require installing a synchronized traffic light system to make the entire walking experience safer and more organised.

“Beirut is like any other city, it needs to be pedestrianfriendly. The car stole the city from the pedestrians. Now, the role is to bring the city back to the people,” Chaaya explains. Simon Moussalli, architect, town planner and university professor, agrees with Chaaya’s analysis.

“The city centre, however, does remain a public space and is intended for the whole population of Lebanon which is in keeping with the mission of the centre. A museum is a public life initiative,” Moussalli says. “I don’t think the town centre should remain only a business centre.” The idea is that with the Beirut City Museum, it won’t. In a balance between archaeology and nature, the museum’s landscape design will take into account necessities like lighting, trees and pavement design.


“It’s very delicate. The building needs to have a very light presence. We do this for the glory of archaeology and the site itself,” Chaaya says.


The challenge lies in maintaining lightness while keeping the site completely intact and artefacts preserved. To make sure that happens, the structure will only be 15 metres high, and will take up only 30% of the lot. Plus, in order to maintain transparency and an outward-looking perspective towards the sea, RPBW, coordinating with Fouad Menhem Architects locally, chose a stunning nautical element for the design of the structure, inspired by the lighthouse. Piano refers to it as “a light cube of glass”, a permeable structure that looks to the sea, the archaeological site and Martyrs’ Square. The cube comprises two floors above ground and the rest of the underground structure will be composed of concrete and stone, including an auditorium and an entry out on the archaeological park. “It’s like a lighthouse that sheds light on the archaeology below,” says Solh.

This also means pedestrians will be able to see what’s going on inside the building from the outside. Inside the clear structure lies a red box, made of fins that open and close. When closed, a film on Beirut’s 5,000 years of history is projected. Its interactive aspect is integral, since visitors will be able to read about the different civilizations that have contributed to the place while simultaneously exploring the artefacts. “It’s not a large museum – you are learning something in only a few minutes. The idea is to expand the archaeological part from the outside to the inside. Artefacts will be both outside and inside, so both physically and visually connected,” Chaaya says. Sometimes it’s the most pared down design that’s the boldest. For Solh, the museum is one of the most important projects to come out of downtown’s reconstruction.

Moussalli adds that, “It’s an excellent idea to have a public museum but it needs to be open to everyone

Renzo Piano’s cube, a transparent structure looking out to the sea

and for free. A museum is a very expensive place to maintain. [But] it needs to have public financial support.”

Whether it will be free to enter is as yet undecided but what it comes down to is the representation of Beirut’s identity – it’s about taking pride in one’s own history and respecting the civilizations that have come through and impacted the city.

For Solh, it’s about giving it the attention it deserves: “I think history does repeat itself and this city is really born of greatness, of great things, and it withstood earthquakes and tsunamis and conquests and religious wars, and so it’s about celebrating the Beirut story and I would really hope that people are interested in that.”

Words by Grace Banks



By shamelessly owning her emotions and anger, Iranian artist Azadeh Razaghdoost blazes a new trail for women in art

The press release for Recipe for a Poem, Azadeh Razaghdoost’s first UK solo exhibition currently showing at London’s Sophia Contemporary Gallery, claims her practice refers to 19th century Romantic poets. Many of the 15 pieces on view do indeed take their names from the writings of one such poet and artist, William Blake. In their wound-red gashes, intensely depicted across the canvas, and the occasional, miniscule, oblique sentence of love, it’s simple to see why this allusion would be made. Yet the reality is very different. Razaghdoost discovered Blake’s poems long after she finished the works appearing in Recipe for a Poem: “Interestingly, I came across Blake’s poems after completing the series. I found his description of a rose in The Sick Rose so close to my expression in my paintings, I decided to name the works after it.”

Razaghdoost’s art is far more aligned with the sheer rebelliousness of expressing emotions that the Romantic-era poets preached, than their actual subjects. Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1975, Razaghdoost studied at the Tehran School of Art at the beginning of the millennium, earning a Bachelor’s degree in painting. Training under the radical Iranian artists Fereydoun Mambeigy and Farshid Maleki, who ritually placed the painful rawness of being at the forefront of their work, it was here she began to understand that the personal was political, and that it made great art, too.

Indeed, blood features highly in large chunks of her work. It’s almost as if paintings such as The Storm of Roses (2016) and The Branches Die of Love (2009) started with blank canvases hanging in the room of a crime scene. But the connotations aren’t bad, she insists: “Blood is a sign of vitality. It gives life and meaning to my works. I draw inspiration from the crimson colour of blood to create elements such as roses, hearts and wounds.” It’s this sweet spot that Razaghdoost exists in, the intersection of pain, loss and love. “For me sickness, life, death, love and lust are everybody’s main life experiences, this is why they are so important and fundamental to me; these concepts have been unconsciously hidden in my works.” Coloured pigments are masterfully poured and arranged onto the white canvas in an artistic gesture reminiscent of Action Painting and Abstract Expressionism. Life is spattered in a whirlwind of emotions, and colour radiates an unrestrained eroticism culminating in glowing hearts and feminine attributes set on a pure white background. Contrasts collide and grapple with


“What is most important in my work is that I have a deeply emotional viewpoint toward my surroundings, objects and nature. It’s this viewpoint that makes my art seem emotional”.

What Razaghdoost takes from the Romantic literary canon then – a genre that favours a dominant male view of romance – is the process of writing poetry and the raw and shameless display of human emotion. Unlike Blake, she does not wear her heart on her sleeve, and instead presents the expression of female emotion and identity as art in itself. There’s a lot of violence. Paintings in The Sick Rose Series (2008) show Razaghdoost’s inescapable inclination to see violence, pain and anger, even when there might not be any.

“To me, the thorns of roses are like the thorned-crown of Jesus and the red blood could be Jesus’s blood,” she says.


This page, left: Untitled, 2011, from the ‘Letters’ series. Below: Untitled. from ‘The Sick Rose’ series, 2008. Previous pages: ‘Through Air Where Roses of Black Gunpowder Burst,’ 2011, from the ‘Letters’ series. All works oil and pencil on canvas, courtesy of Sophia Contemporary Gallery

each other in a visually enthralling yet tender language. At times, existential dualities seem to be so closely knit together that contrasting desires and the looming danger of decay become a single whole. To classify Razaghdoost and her art is difficult. “The inspiration for my paintings is usually spontaneous. But you can find similarities with poets and the inspiration behind their writing. The same way in which a poet uses words to make a poem, an artist uses materials and the surface to make a painting.”


She is obsessed with the process of feeling and with the authenticity of work that confronts human emotion head on. Her description of her practice is like a dramatic story arc in itself: “Using pencil is like a climax or an ending in my works. The lines work as a border between the abstract surfaces, points and free drops of colours.”

Razaghdoost is adamant that she will not be cast in the stereotypical role of rebel Middle Eastern female artist dealing with politics and issues affecting the Middle East. “Overall, I believe that most Middle Eastern artists have a political point of view that I don’t favour,” she says, “I’m an artist who lives in the Middle East but works against the trends in the region. I am not a political artist and not interested in political art, so I don’t see myself as an artist with a Middle Eastern view.” She is resolute: “I get tired of being analysed by factors of Middle Eastern art... artists who refer to history and deal with specific cultural aspects like calligraphy.”

As Middle Eastern art gains more traction in the West, becoming increasingly popular and more collectable, type-casting is an issue that many artists of the region are concerned with. Razaghdoost says this concern is particularly felt in the nations of the Persian Gulf, countries which have an important role in the artistic landscape. “Middle Eastern art is often defined by its audience, be they in the region or outside, as socio-critical and political. However, I am interested in neither thinking about the political changes in this region nor painting them.” In fact, Razaghdoost manages to swerve geographical context entirely, and instead, creates her own artistic canon for herself, and for other artists to follow — a genre where the personal greets the political with equal measures of warmth, and rage. Azadeh Razaghdoost’s ‘Recipe for a Poem’ is at the Sophia Contemporary gallery in London’s Mayfair until 10 February 2017.


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Words and photography by Zeina Shahine



How best to capture what it means to be young, wild and free in Beirut? The act of abandon where the day ends and night’s release begins… For A Mag’s ongoing series of artist visions tied to our theme, Zeina Shahine shares a selection of her 175-strong Polaroid images depicting partygoers unmasked, uninhibited and caught in the moment at Beirut’s famed Decks On The Beach summer parties. Why is that bold? Because of the use of an instant camera at all – the images unalterable, immediate and antithetical to our Instagram, digital era. Here, the act of taking a picture, and being pictured, are audaciously portrayed



“This series captures stolen moments, in between shots that were taken during my time photographing clubbers at the DOB parties. For a while, I became obsessed with the idea that people could look back on these instant photos as a visual document of their lives, as timeless and evocative as the emotions and energy that brought them about. It’s a haphazard, informal and playful approach to photography: the rawness of shooting in analogue, the immediate point and shoot, getting the image on the spot rather than searching digitally for that perfect picture. I like that you can’t choose – there’s only one photograph and the encounters can never recur. It allowed me to delve into the fleeting magic of the moment. Some nights, I’d see a person full of this contagious energy… and I would tell myself, ‘I want to photograph that person tonight.’ And that’s what I’d do, capturing them quickly, tapping into their world. The parties themselves make a statement because they are vibrant and galvanise people to lose their inhibitions. And the people who go are full of character and dress as they please. There’s no pretentiousness. No one poses. They are just there to dance with carefree abandon, and in so doing feel alive.”























On Food


You could argue it was the Prophet Muhammad who made the humble date so popular. The date palm is mentioned more than any other fruit-bearing plant in the Quran and Muhammad advised his followers that “He who eats seven Ajwa dates [dates grown in the city of Medina] every morning, will not be affected by poison or black magic on the day he eats them.”

Maybe he was on to something. Dates are super healthy, a great source of energy and nutrition, a good source of fibre and high in potassium. I always thought of them as sticky, sweet, delicious but dry when eaten alone. But put them in baklava, ferment them into jam or incorporate them into other dishes and they create something bold and beautiful to taste. Moving from Paris to Beirut to Dubai, the vast possibilities of dates, the different types, distinctive tastes, size variations, degrees of sweetness and textures, opened up for me. Now they’re a regular feature in my kitchen, used in both my sweet and savoury cooking, including salads and meat stews to add a sugary edge. When I’m feeling tired, I pop one in my mouth and the natural sugars give me a healthy boost – they’ve no cholesterol, are low in fat and full of vitamins and minerals.

At this time of year there’s no better way to mark the season than by using this versatile little fruit in an Christmas turkey – the dates lead the way in my date, pecan and pear recipe. When I lived in New York, I became obsessed with the American tradition of the stuffed turkey. So when developing this recipe I wanted to combine all the flavours of these celebrated ingredients. For me, the result is a true showstopper. The sweetness of the date accompanies the pecan, pear and

bacon stuffing perfectly and balances the flavours of the turkey meat. If you want to try something a little different for your Christmas lunch, I can’t recommend it enough. For more on Dalia visit and her YouTube channel DATE, PECAN AND PEAR STUFFED TURKEY Serves 6-8 Prep time: 1 hour Cooking time: 4 hours

2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 onions (finely chopped), 1 cup beef bacon (cubed), 1 pear (peeled and chopped), 1 cup dates (deseeded and cut into chunks), 1⁄3 cup chicken stock, 1 1⁄2 tbsp. dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, 1 cup pecans (chopped), 1⁄4 cup crème fraiche, 2 tbsp. honey, 1 loaf country bread (cubed), salt and cracked black pepper to taste, 8-11 lbs whole turkey (thawed), 1⁄2 lemon, 4 tbsp. butter 1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until transparent, for 6-7 minutes. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until golden and crispy, for 7 minutes. Add the pears, dates, stock, thyme and bay leaves.

2. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Add the pecans, crème fraiche and honey. Remove the bay leaves. Add the bread, season with salt and pepper and set aside. 3. Preheat oven to 180 °C. Remove all turkey giblets, rinse thoroughly with water, pat and dry inside and out. Rub the inside with salt and half a lemon. Stuff the turkey lightly with the stuffing and rub the skin all over with butter. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Place turkey in a roasting pan, loosely cover with tin foil and roast on lowest oven rack for 3-4 hours, rotating the turkey after the first hour and a half and basting with pan juices. Keep roasting, check to make sure it is cooking evenly, remove foil if needed. Continue cooking until the internal temperature in the thigh’s thickest part reads 77 °C and the juices in the thigh run clear when stuck with a knife. The stuffing’s internal temperature should read 73 °C. 5. Let the bird rest, covered with foil, for at least 20 minutes before carving. 6. Serve with cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.

Dalia Dogmoch Soubra/Food, Love and Life

Dalia Dogmoch Soubra gets bold, experimental and seasonal with the humble date


Where We’re Eating

Al Furn el-Lubnani

Open Monday to Saturday, 7.30am -3:30pm, Salim Bustros street, Achrafieh Al Furn el-Lubnani is the surprisingly wonderful no-frills restaurant recently opened by two brothers who haven’t been in the food business before: practicing architect Samer Chamoun and Bassam, an engineer. Operating on the premise that the classic Lebanese man’ousheh isn’t ‘developed’ enough as a local specialty, the Chamoun brothers have come up with brilliant adaptations. The most popular, and my favourite, is the thyme on thyme man’ousheh, which mixes in a zesty tomato spread with fresh thyme leaves on top of the usual thyme cooked in olive oil. With other original additions, like bite-sized savoury and sweet versions with zucchini, onions, and black cumin seeds or succulent walnuts mixed in with sugar, butter and rose water; plus nine different types of dough and four diverse kneading styles, Al Furn is a dream. Everything is affordable, farm-to-table, freshly made in an open kitchen, and with enough variety so it doesn’t get boring. Lebanese food that packs a punch. – Nadine Khalil


Le Louis XV

Open Thursday to Monday, 7.30-9.45pm, Closed for lunch, Hôtel de Paris, Place du Casino, Monte Carlo, It’s almost ridiculous how high end this Alain Ducasse restaurant is, but if you find yourself in Monte Carlo like I did recently, fork out the cash because eating here is truly special. It is a luxury venue par excellence and you get what you pay for, including the highest standards of service and that’s something to shout about. Le Louis XV is an opulent Versailles grand-siècle-inspired palace of pleasure, opened in 1987, and still going strong. A recent makeover by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku has added some much-needed pizazz, while maintaining the old school elements. The dining room with its gilded handbag stools, bespoke crockery and silverware is majestic; the 400,000-bottle wine cellar and lengthy mineral water list is simply exceptional; but it’s the quality of the Riviera-led cooking that stands out and is why the place has 3 Michelin stars. Taking the best from sea, garden and farm with fresh juices and sauces, intense and aromatic broths, and fresh condiments and spices that reveal the precise flavours and seasoning of Ducasse’s culinary style, highlights include the ‘Blue Lobster with juniper berries and autumn vegetables’ and the ‘Roasted, royal-style Jugged Hare with beetroot, pear and persimmon’. – Felix El Hage


Amass Restaurant

Open Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm-midnight, Lunch Friday & Saturday 12-3.30pm, Refshalevej 153, When legendary chef René Redzepi calls your place the “coolest restaurant in town,” you know you’re on to a winner. Copenhagen’s Amass, opened in 2013, remains one of the Danish capital’s most exclusive and best places to tuck in. The venture, from American former head chef of Noma, Matt Orlando, isn’t only a destination eatery but also a simply beautiful space to eat in, huge dining room with soaring windows, intriguing graffiti murals and perfect views of Copenhagen’s harbour. Housed in a former shipyard the menu is modern Nordic and constantly changing, which one day might include crispy oats with hot smoked foie gras and walnut marigold, and another, salted mackerel with grilled skin and spring onion. It’s also got its own vegetable garden, where most greens and herbs are sourced, and if that’s not enough at night they even light a bonfire – perfect for gorgeous winter atmosphere. There’s a popular communal table in the centre of the room, Table 153, available to book separately, and a private loft space that can cater for up to 16 guests. Full of imagination, Amass is arguably the destination restaurant de jour among Copenhagen’s competitive dining scene. – Goufrane Mansour


On Drink

Drinks columnist Michael Karam talks booze for the festive season

In fairness, by the time Christmas Day arrives all the dragons have been pretty much slayed. The thrill of December drinking, like dating, lies in the chase and that starts pretty much from day one. There is that mood. The days are longer and so are the lunches. Friday lunches in particular have a habit of seguing neatly into an evening of debauchery that only Yuletide can serve up.

January on the other hand is the flipside from hell, a month in which our resolve to be better and healthier are at their most mighty. We are urged to give our livers a rest and yet when you think about it, it’s madness to tackle a month that stretches out so vast and empty without heroic quantities of hooch, especially when it falls immediately after the Dante-esque nightmare that is New Year’s Eve. And after the nightmare of the US presidential election, going out and get utterly obliterated seems the obvious course of action. We’re going to die anyway. You know I’m right and this year will be no different. So how to lessen the damage? And by that I mean the damage to your soul; your liver is already a lost cause. Enter the cocktail, the proper cocktail, not the 80s Club Tropicana creations favored by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley. It is the drink that can take you from zero to

sixty faster than any other and the leader of the pack is the Martini.

The purists insist on the gin version but I, like a fictional spy of note, prefer vodka. Neophytes beware. I have seen grown men combust in front of my eyes after just two, but once you find your bearings this is the drink to lift the spirits and refresh the soul, even if it is basically a triple gin or vodka caressed by vermouth-coated ice. Two is the perfect intro to the evening. Resist the temptation to have a third, especially if you secretly fancy your sister (or brother)-in-law. If cocktails are too complicated amid the seasonal madness, then nothing stuns you quite like whisky and this is the only time of year when you can safely go toeto-toe with those peaty, hairy-arsed single malts without waking up with a headache the size of Wyoming. The rest of the time, especially here in Lebanon, is simply too hot for these behemoths, but get yourself up to the chalet, pour a large cask strength Islay malt and hole up for the duration. You’ll thank me later.

Lastly, your wingman during this high intensity period should be the Bloody Mary, the original field hospital in a glass. The choice of vodka is personal – I’m currently into the lesser-known and handmade Tito’s Texan vodka. When it comes to the mixer, I have no problem with the ready-made stuff. They are efficient and fast, especially if your hangover feels like you’ve been on a ten-mile run followed by a session at Abu Ghraib. If you can’t find any, then V8 vegetable juice is better than straight up tomato juice but be sure to add celery salt and a nip of sherry, along with the Worcester and Tabasco sauces. And don’t be too stingy with the vodka. You want to know you’re having a drink. What about wine you ask? Wine is what you drink with food. Remember: red with beef and lamb, white with chicken and fish. As the poet John Keats pointed out, “that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” See you on the other side.

Michael Karam is author of Wines of Lebanon. He tweets @lebanesewineman

Instants/Getty Images


December and January. Two months with huge significance to committed drinkers. If booze is not your best mate and your idea of drinking is nursing a glass of insipid white wine throughout lunch or dinner, then December, with its interminable rounds of Christmas and New Year parties, at which drinks of every stamp and hue are thrust into your hand, can be something of an ordeal. But if, like me, you have been steadily knocking it down all year, then, as a friend once said, December is the event you’ve been training for.

Where We’re Drinking


Miss Jones

Open Wednesday to Saturday, 8pm till late, Beirut Souks, Reservations 07 695 5966 @missjonesbeirut Let’s be clear – partying in the Beirut Souks is not something I’d normally do. First, it’s a shopping mall and second, er, it’s a shopping mall. But there is one spot, one glittering fleshpot of desire and music and drink that does everything right in proper Beirut style – so much so it’s become a regular hangout this winter. Miss Jones, founded by people with a knack for always coming up with the goods, is a blast. With two bars, one inside and one out, rich velvet seating and funky barstools, and – the highlight – a mirrored and varied coloured ceiling made up of individual triangular glass that’s as trippy and disco cool as you get, dropping moves on the dance floor below it is simply inevitable. Especially when the DJ spins everything from Prince and Depeche Mode one minute, to St Germain and Pharrell Williams another. Happy music to make you smile and rock your socks off. Miss Jones is sexy and intimate for a crowd who know what they want. The drinks are all hits from the Violet Spritzer (Prosecco, Violet Crème and San Pellegrino) to the Strawberry Chill (vodka, fresh strawberries, cranberry and lemon juice). I dare you not to have a ball. Just make sure to dress up – Miss Jones loves her elegance and simplicity. – Ramsay Short



Open Mondays to Sundays from 9am to 1am, Pasteur Street, Gemmayzeh, +961 3 568 661



Club 1930

Open Sunday to Friday, 6pm till late, Secret location, Entrance by appointment only It’s a place only few know of but I’m spreading the word because frankly, Milan’s Club 1930 needs to be shared. The location of this secret speakeasy, inspired by America’s era of Prohibition, is inconspicuous and disguised as a pizza shop. Only an invitation will allow you entrance through the small hidden door at the back – to get that, you’ll need to head over to the other side of the city and the MAG café at Ripa di Porta Ticinese. Ask nicely and they’ll sort you out. Once back and inside Club 1930, you’ll find a living room atmosphere with cosy corners, good music and excellent cocktails. It’s like entering someone’s deluxe flat with velvet armchairs and fine furniture, but with an added bar and fabulous drinks list. Have no doubt, in Milan this is the place to quaff booze and be seen in. – Ana del Piero

As far as aperitivo in Beirut goes, Cyrano’s got it down. This new, quaint little bar on Pasteur Street has the intimate, old school feel of a traditional Italian trattoria, with a touch of French style and plenty of contemporary Arabic music mixed in. And the drinks make the place. Take the Mule di Torino, a blend of vermouth, fresh ginger syrup, lime angostura, absinthe, and ginger beer. Tangy? Yes. Powerful? You got it. Or try the Negronic (gin, Campari, lemon, vermouth, ginger drops and ferment Bianca) – a dream in a glass. The Signore Garibaldi (Campari, vermouth, lemon and pink grapefruit) is a refreshing blast. Before drinking any of them, however, try the barman’s recommendation of their house ginger lemonade, freshly made and apparently perfect for tempting your taste buds (you can also have it the mornings when the bar opens for breakfast). And if you want some food to soak up all the alcohol you’ll inevitably be drinking, my recommendation is the Italian club sandwich: pesto grilled chicken, baby spinach, salami, black pepper, sautéed cherry tomatoes, bresaola and cheese. Its contents may spill all over your shirt but it’s worth it. – Rayane Abou Jaoude




1:39 PM


A Mag lifestyle expert Lucille Howe discovers that a batch of calming apps can do for your mind what ‘Perfect 365’ does for your selfies. Just add candles and yoga mat OK, so we’re always being told to turn off our devices and do a digital detox but, ironically, the one-minute Zen you’re after may be on the smartphone at your fingertips.


Apple has recently announced a new mindfulness-based health app for the Apple Watch called Breathe which coaches you through timed breathing sessions, set up with reminders. But beyond Apple, mindfulness can come from the most surprising of sources.

Meditation Made Simple Russell Simmons is the owner of Def Jam records and often name-checked as the Godfather of hip-hop. He’s also been an advocate of Transcendental Meditation for more than 20 years, a passionate vegan and animal rights activist. If that resumé makes you feel good just reading about it, then check out the app which offers advice on how to meditate, 10 and 20-minute meditations and a vibration option – which doesn’t mean turning the sound off but raises your positivity.

Buddhify Award-winning Buddhify has 80 customguided meditation tracks for 14 different activities including insomnia, walking in the city or dealing with difficult emotions. An app that’s the same price as a latte, and with longer lasting effect, the guiding voice isn’t as smooth as Barry White but what it lacks in ease it makes up for in attention to detail. Insight Home to 3,024 fantastic free guided meditations. You choose your theme (there is a Top 20, New and Playlists to help) and add an optional authentic Tibetan singing bowl or wood block to begin and end it. There’s also a social aspect; you can see who else is meditating, join discussion

groups and local meet-ups. Teachers include Eckhart Tolle, the author of bestseller, The Power of Now. Relax Melodies If counting sheep, snorting lavender and avoiding caffeine after 4pm aren’t cutting it, then this sleep meditation is for you. The added extra is your own mixing desk which allows you to create your own sleeptime track combining sound effects like ‘River’, ‘Music Box’ and ‘Birds’ to underscore the meditation or play alone. You’ll have to splash some cash to upgrade to the full range of meditations.

Smiling Mind A not-for-profit app from founders who are campaigning to see mindfulness meditation on the Australian National Curriculum by 2020. Designed for children and teens, it’s actually great for beginners too. Their partner app, Mind the Bump, is for new and about-to-be parents, clocking up meditation minutes and reminding you of ‘days till due date’. You might have a face like thunder when baby is crying and you’ve had just two hours sleep, but at least you’ve got a smiling mind, right?

All apps can be found on the iTunes app store

Where We’re Detoxing BEIRUT

Yoga Souk

D Beirut bldg., Seaside road, Bourj Hammoud 1203, Not a new age marketplace but a super serene yoga studio, Yoga Souk at Beirut’s newest artspace D Beirut is all space, white walls and wood floors with full-height windows looking out onto lush green eucalyptus trees. Enter one of the studio classes and practice your downward dog while listening to upbeat tunes. It’s Jivamukti Yoga: stretching to music with hands-on adjustments by instructors to encourage a creative flow of movement. Or take a traditional Ashtanga class (the place to start if just beginning). Founded by Sarah Trad and Tina Pakradouni, inspired by New York-based, Lebanese-born yoga rockstar Rima Rabbath, Yoga Souk is a serious and professional addition to the Beirut scene. Rabbath selects and flies top teachers in from all over the world for specialist classes, unique for a yoga studio in the city, and her mission is for students to use yoga to help us become at ease with who we are. “The yoga mat becomes a safe space and allows you to experiment, sit with both your discomfort and elation,” she says. And if there’s a place centred in joy and ease of being, it’s Yoga Souk. I’m sold. – Nadine Khalil





‘Spa’ comes from the Latin ‘salus per aquam,’ meaning ‘health through water,’ and the city of Bath in southwest England is home to some of the most famous health-giving natural springs in the world. There are three hot springs in the city centre from which the mineral-rich thermal waters rise up: the Cross Spring, Hetling Spring and King’s Spring. Rain which originally fell around 10,000 years ago sank to a depth of around 2km and gets heated by high temperature rocks before bubbling up, and the 5-star Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel has direct access to these waters. Its picture-perfect spa centre has over 1,300 square metres of underground thermal pools set within Romanesque columns and a light-flooded atrium, a sauna, steam room and an ice chamber. Sample the bespoke aquatic treatments – from the ginger renewal scrub with warm healing stones to the mineral-rich magnesium wrap before soaking in the 35 and 40°C warm baths. You’ll be hungry after – luckily the Gainsborough’s restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Johann Lafer is here to fill you up. – Nadine Khalil

One of the best ways to relax in winter is to find one of the world’s tectonic fault lines and hit yourself up with some geothermal activity. In other words, hot springs, the earth’s very own mineralrich Jacuzzis, and one of the best is an hour from Reykjavík, in an 800-year-old lava field. The Blue Lagoon is a man-made body of water filled with nine million litres of geothermal seawater, lying magically among the black rocks of the mountain. Its perfect blue 40°C waters are said to soothe numerous ailments from psoriasis to any sort of muscle pain and it must work because over 600,000 people a year line up to visit. Filled with active ingredients, once here find a secluded corner in the waters – you still can, just make sure to pre-book – and apply the natural silica mud to your body, sit back and relax. Well worth a trip, any time of the year. – Ramsay Short


On Travel A Mag editor and traveller Ramsay Short suggests that taking a total break from our constantly connected lives on a holiday is like a cold shower for the brain

example. Best thing about it is the milliondollar view that’ll cost you nothing. Responsible Travel ( has a beautiful off-grid villa on the Ligurian coast near the French-Italian border, as well as in Dominica and yurts in Lanzarote. Then there’s always the wild camping option – look for patches of woodland next to a crystal-clear, trout-filled stream, with some mushrooms and wild garlic for foraging. Leave the iPhone at home and take an instant camera instead – Instagraming your idyll is strictly prohibited.

I recently discovered the joys of a new mobile telephone and what it doesn’t do. The Punkt cellular phone ( makes calls and can send text messages. That’s it. There’s no Wi-Fi connection, touch screen or social media apps enabled. A smart phone it is not. Enabling me to spend more time doing things – like living in the present, travelling and seeing the world around me rather than staring at a screen.

The phone got me thinking about going off-grid entirely, leaving modern urban life behind and living on a remote island somewhere with a dog for company and coconuts for sustenance – until I realised that if I did that I wouldn’t be able to watch

the final series of Game of Thrones. Not going to happen.

But off-grid holidaying, leaving all tech and Internet noise and news behind for a period of travel… now that’s a pretty bold idea; one that makes sense.

There are plenty of ecotourism companies that offer this sort of thing, and you can even find the perfect retreat on Airbnb ( – there’s a magical former shepherd’s hut in the pine-covered hills around Deià on the west coast of Mallorca featuring a stone tank to collect rainwater, a butane cooker and fridge, solar panels and a wood-burning fire on the site, for

If you truly want to disconnect, there is one other option I am keen to try: ensconced in the rolling landscape of eastern Tuscany the Vipassana Centre Dhamma Atala ( offers a free, yes FREE (though you can make a donation) 10day off-grid meditation course following an ancient technique of self-observation that’s believed to be a ‘universal remedy for universal ills.’ The catch? You must take a vow of silence on arrival, no talking is allowed throughout your stay and alongside obligatory group meditation, you are encouraged to meditate yourself for up to 10 hours per day. Laptops and mobiles are outlawed as are reading and writing. In this crazy age of instant gratification, virtual reality and the 24-hour digital plug in, I can’t think of a more calming or enriching travel experience. Ramsay Short writes on travel and tweets hiketothemoon

at @

Blaze Press


Where We’re Staying



Founder of Beirut’s Souk el Tayeb farmers market and Tawlet restaurant, Kamal Mouzawak, has extended his exceptional downto-earth offerings into hospitality with a series of guesthouses in Lebanese villages. The first was Beit Douma, the second Beit Ammiq in the Bekaa Valley and the latest, and A Mag’s current favourite, is Beit El Qamar in the heart of the lush Chouf mountains near Beiteddine. Not only is the landscape stunning, with dizzying views of rolling hills complimented by delicious regional cuisine served outside in the garden, the homely experience is a relaxing alternative to the bluster of Beirut. The seven rooms have a charming country housestyle, some with their own balconies, and are designed with warm chocolate-coloured wood finishes and coloured textile coverings to keep you warm on cooler nights. Ideal for a wintry weekend, you can enjoy a leisurely brunch buffet (with locally produced arak) under a canopy of green, overlooking the breathtaking vistas, then simply hang out and do nothing until dinner. And you can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t be making a dent in your carbon footprint – Beit El Qamar is designed to be fully eco-friendly, including the organic locally sourced ingredients in the food. Hands down, this is THE place to regenerate, and get away for a while. – Nadine Khalil





Whenever a Soho House opens a new outpost it’s a cause for celebration. And the members’ club cum hotel group founded by Briton Nick Jones has just opened not one but two – in Amsterdam and Barcelona. It’s the latter, in this ever-popular hip city with its bright lights and gorgeous Catalan cuisine that’s our winter destination of choice though. The 57-room hotel has all the signature Soho House traits, from the rooftop pool, the spa, the gym to the many restaurants and the must-have film screening room. It’s situated in the wonderful Gothic Quarter opposite the Port Vell marina and you don’t have to be a Soho House member to stay. The rooms are classic in style, and opulent. Even in the Tiny ones, the double beds are huge but best to bag one of the Medium Marina Plus spaces, with a view over the port, super king-size beds and stunning en-suite bathrooms including rainforest showers and freestanding roll-top baths. Problem is of course that once you’ve settled in, you might actually never get out into the city. – Goufrane Mansour

The West Texas desert town of Marfa has just 2,000 residents and the closest airport is hours away, but that hasn’t stopped it from getting its very own luxury hotel in the form of the Saint George. Why? Because Marfa has become a bucket list US destination of choice for anyone professing a serious interest in art – the town has 16 art galleries and the specialist Chinati Foundation, carrying hundreds of works from the likes of Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain and Donald Judd. The hotel itself, in a converted 1930 low-slung stucco building, is beautiful with all the luxury mod cons you’d expect to find. But its highlight is the art collection – nearly 300 works from American regional artists like Christopher Wool, Mark Flood and Jeff Elrod can be found throughout, including in each of the 55 guest rooms. Designed by Houston-based architect firm Carlos Jiménez Studio, the Saint George features original wood beams and poured concrete columns, the front desk is all metal and rich mahogany and the entrance is made up of massive steel doors. It’s a beautiful place to stay in and, with the added benefit of fabulous French-inspired restaurant La Venture, could well become the cultural hub of this tiny, but artistically vital, American town. See you there. – Felix El Hage


Aïshti By the Sea, Antelias, T. 04 71 77 16 ext. 272, Aïzone stores and retail sport shops Follow us on instagram @NEWBALANCELEBANON and on facebook New Balance Lebanon

I’LL BE YOUR MUSE The history of fashion is filled with tales of legendary designers and their muses, and the often-bold creations inspired by their collaborations. From Hubert Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn – who wore the former’s showstopping LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – to Jean-Paul Gaultier and Madonna – who sported the designer’s infamous cone bra during her 1990 Blonde Ambition tour – there’s always been something extremely alluring about the connections between the two. The designers enthused by their muses and the muses wearing and making famous their designers’ inimitable aesthetic. For Azzedine Alaïa, it was Grace Jones flaunting his sculptural creations; for Elsa Schiaparelli, it was Salvador Dalí who inspired her surrealist Shoe Hat, Tears Dress, Skeleton Dress, and the scandalous lobster-print dress of 1937. Today, Marc Jacobs has the likes of Sofia Coppola and Jamie Bochert as his muses, and Karl Lagerfeld has had a small army of ingénues for Chanel and Fendi, including Diane Kruger, Vanessa Paradis and Nicole Kidman. Here, we picture five audacious Lebanese designers dressing their muses and discover what inspires them, as portrayed by regular A Mag contributing photographer Tarek Moukaddem Portraits by Tarek Moukaddem

Words and interviews by Nadine Khalil



From left: George, Valerie and Assaad

AZZI & OSTA, WITH VALERIE ABOU CHACRA George Azzi and Assaad Osta are the designer duo behind Beirut-based fashion house Azzi & Osta. Having cut their teeth at Elie Saab before setting out on their own, the pair have become known for their structural volumes and vintage feel. Their muse? Miss Lebanon 2015, Valerie Abou Chacra How long have you been designing? (G) I can’t even remember, it goes way back (A) I used to sketch designs of dresses when I was around 12

Where do you find inspiration? (A) Music, movies, architecture, historical figures, colours – basically, all that surrounds us Name one thing you cannot live without (G) My cellphone (A) Theories, period films Pet peeve (A) Ugly shoes

Do you have a secret talent? (G) Planning good holidays (A) Cooking

Tell us about Valerie (G) We first met Valerie when she wore an Azzi & Osta gown to a charity gala in Beirut a while back. Needless to say, we immediately fell in love with her character as much as her looks. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, she is also a philanthropist, dedicating her time to helping others (A) She inspired us deeply as she is a unique representation of chic Lebanese women; still connected to her roots and values, yet open to new experiences. We feel that she is the embodiment of the Azzi & Osta woman Most shocking statement piece? (G) Lady Gaga’s Meat Gown

Describe the worst ensemble you have ever seen (A) Mixed animal print with neon accents

Highest moment in your career... (G) We’ve had quite a few special ones, but one that really stands out is Aishwarya Rai in Azzi & Osta at the Cannes Film Festival L’Oréal event earlier this year Which celebrity have you had the biggest crush on? (G) Monica Bellucci (A) Marion Cotillard Biggest fashion faux-pas? (A) Trying too hard (G) Being overly trendy

If you could dress anyone in the world (dead or living), who would it be? (A) Jackie Kennedy And if you could only wear one outfit over and over, what would it be? (G) Blue jeans and a white shirt What angers you the most? (G) Animal abuse (A) Unprofessionalism Fashion is… (A) Reinventing history


LARA KHOURY, WITH MARIA HIBRI ESMOD Paris graduate Lara apprenticed with Lebanese fashion legends Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz before getting her break with local fashion development hub STARCH. In 2008 she launched her first label, ‘ilk’, and has been working under her name since 2010. Lara’s bold, minimalist and experimental garments have garnered her a dedicated following. Her muse? Maria Hibri, one-half of furniture design duo Bokja How long have you been designing? Since 2010 Pet peeve Traffic

Do you have a secret talent? I make a mean Scotch on the rocks


Who is Maria to you? Maria Hibri is an inspiring woman, someone I know from the design community and who approached me in the past to design a dress for her. Her wealth of design knowledge and the ability she has in bringing her ideas to life have inspired me throughout my career – I would go as far as to say she has influenced a lot of decisions I have made since my work as a designer took off Most shocking statement piece? My voluminous own-design Tulle Skirt, which, despite being quite shocking, has been very well-received by my clients who tend to be bold themselves. I have made it a mainstay across my collections Describe the worst ensemble you have ever seen. Another one of my own I’m afraid – it’s indescribable, and comes from the first collection I designed

Highest moment in your career... At the launch of ‘A Lunch with Lara Khoury’ in 2013, a video that went viral, in which I brought several people from the Lebanese community to Tawlet Aamiq and asked them to describe Lebanon in one word – the results were very emotional. I often make these videos before showing a new collection to express the theme that fuels the collection, without revealing the actual clothes What’s the worst thing you have read about yourself? Nothing so far, thank god Which celebrity have you had the biggest crush on? Heath Ledger Biggest fashion faux-pas? Feathers

If you could dress anyone in the world (dead or living), who would it be? Björk And if you could only wear one outfit over and over, what would it be? Anything black What angers you the most? Ignorance Fashion is… Passion


Lara Khoury (left) with Maria Hibri


Rayya Morcos (left) with Hadia Sinno

RAYYA MORCOS, WITH HADIA SINNO Initially trained as an interior designer, Rayya Morcos launched her label Bird on a Wire in 2012 (inspired by a Leonard Cohen song) to question human interactions, moments of solitude and feelings – this was after being head of design for Rabih Kayrouz from 2006 to 2011. Her muse? TV fashion talk show host Hadia Sinno How long have you been designing? Professionally 10 years, passionately 20 years

Where do you find inspiration? Most of my collections come from a combination of themes usually related to sociology, psychology, people, and music mixed with exhibitions and documentaries I’ve seen or books I’ve read. In a nutshell, I’m inspired by what’s happening around me. Surrounded by so many wars led by financial gain, faceless corporations, slavery, human trafficking and man-made viruses, which corrupt and control the world we live in, one of my concerns today is if there’s really hope for humanity. My latest collection, The Healer, which comprises breezy silhouettes and floating fabrics, speaks of a brighter future and compassion by inviting us to look within. It all began with the late Leonard Cohen’s last songs and Moby’s music as well as a TED talk Name one thing you cannot live without My family Pet peeve Lemon in my vodka

Do you have a secret talent? Knitting

What inspires you about Hadia? Hadia is primarily a bold influencer and I love her attitude. She is opinionated, a loving mother, a down-to-earth celebrity, an avid journalist, and a caring friend who always has a smile on her face. She’s the Bird on a Wire woman, serious in that she knows what she does, but also doesn’t take herself too seriously. I also love the little girl who hides behind the strong woman that she is Most shocking statement piece? There’s always a shocking piece in every collection, which somehow ends up being the first to be sold! My favourite is the spike jacket made from plastic cable ties Describe the worst ensemble you have ever seen There are no such things

Highest moment in your career... Winning the Woolmark Regional Prize and being the first womenswear designer to get that prize Which celebrity have you had the biggest crush on? There are a few: Luke Perry, Daniel Craig, Leonard Cohen (I still do) Biggest fashion faux-pas? High heel sneakers

If you could dress anyone in the world (dead or living), who would it be? Lyn Slater (Accidental Icon)

And if you could only wear one outfit over and over, what would it be? The Bird on a Wire black jersey dress from the SS2016 collection, it’s so comfortable What angers you the most? Injustice

Fashion is… A trap. Once you get into it, you cannot get out of it and in that sense, it’s more like a maze. You’re stuck inside but it’s never what you expect


KARINE TAWIL, WITH CHRISTIANE TAWIL Karine Tawil, founder of influential fashion house Karoline Lang, learned her trade at Marni in Milan and Reem Acra in New York before returning to Beirut to launch her label in 2010. Karoline Lang clothing is ultra-contemporary in aesthetic, feminine in silhouette, rich in texture and architectural in form. Karine’s collections speak to the modern, assertive woman. Her Austrian grandmother, after whom she named her brand, is just one of strong women who continue to inspire her. Her muse? Her mother Christiane How long have you been designing? About 10 years

Where do you find inspiration? I try to look for that sparkle everywhere


Name one thing you cannot live without My son Pet peeves Ignorance and injustice

Do you have a secret talent? Acting…

Tell us about Christiane She’s my mum, she’s someone I’ve looked up to all my life Most shocking statement piece Crocs, always

Highest moment in your career... I would have to say opening my flagship store at 45 Ave Montaigne, Paris What’s the worst thing you have read about yourself? When I am called Karoline or my name is written with a C instead of a K Which celebrity have you had the biggest crush on? Christopher Plummer in The Sound of Music

Biggest fashion faux-pas? My prom dress, it was terrible… in a champagne colour and satin material with an open back and my hair was done in a French twist. I mean, what was I thinking?! If you could dress anyone in the world (dead or living), who would it be? Marlene Dietrich And if you could only wear one outfit over and over, what would it be? My Tuxedo Shirt with a black leather skirt What angers you the most? I plead the fifth Fashion is… A means for self-expression


Karine Tawil with Christiane


Hussein Bazaza with Zena Farhat

HUSSEIN BAZAZA, WITH ZENA FARHAT Hussein Bazaza is only 26 and already has a slew of awards under his belt (the 2014 Elle Style award, 2015 Middle East Fashion Award for best emerging designer, and the 2016 – DDFC Fashion Prize). His clothing is a mix of ready-to-wear with intricate couture details. His muse? Architect, yoga teacher and friend, Zena Farhat How long have you been designing? Since 2012

Where do you find inspiration? When I come across a topic that intrigues me, I research it and make up a story around it based on fictional characters. For example, for my current collection, I had a reference in mind: Disney’s The Little Mermaid. And the second concept was to create a narrative about the dark side of love. In this case, my mermaid constantly fell in love with sailors but she couldn’t be with them because they were unable to survive in water and so when she followed one of them, she died on land. I guess you could say the message is that love kills Name one thing you cannot live without My colouring kit Pet peeve Ugly fingers

Do you have a secret talent? Singing out of tune

What is it about Zena? Zena is a really old friend; she walked on the runway for my graduation project at ESMOD. She is my muse because she is beautiful, but not in a typical way. She has character and lives in her own world. Smart, complex and independent, she may be a hopeless romantic but with others, she is both dramatic and realistic, edgy and feminine on her own terms – the muse has to do with these contradictions. She sets her own rules. In this way, she represents Hussein Bazaza Describe the worst ensemble you have ever seen Anything from the Moschino Fall 2014 ready-to-wear collection – the McDonald’s collection by Jeremy Scott

What’s the worst thing you have read about yourself? When I first started, there was so much criticism regarding my work, especially the first collection which was related to exorcism and religious motifs Which celebrity have you had the biggest crush on? Blake Lively Biggest fashion faux-pas? Matching the colours of clothing with accessories

If you could dress anyone in the world (dead or living), who would it be? Cate Blanchett And if you could only wear one outfit over and over, what would it be? A plain T-shirt, jeans and sneakers What angers you the most? Demanding clients, especially those who don’t trust you Fashion is... Overrated


Words by Ramsay Short Photography by Raya Farhat

THE LAST PAGE… How to throw a proper house party I’ve thrown a few house parties. I’ve been to many more – in this job you get a lot of invites, especially when December rolls around. Some are good, more are bad and many are atrocious. Don’t commit social suicide. Follow my essential tips and your party will rock. You can thank me later. You’re welcome.

Numbers Invites



The right mix is crucial. Someone important, famous, clever and at least one person who’s totally mad. A conjurer, an acrobat too. All ages are good, and never invite exes

Always send hard copies and never stipulate a leaving time – unless it says 5am. And no ‘save the date’ emails

Cram in as many people as you can, have them spilling out the door – jealous neighbours equals good party


No lamps, plenty of candles. They make everyone look great, and you feel as if you can be naughty and mischievous

Social Media

Forbid guests from posting pictures during the party. Use a Polaroid instead. More fun, more exclusive, cooler

Drinks Always serve champagne. Have vodka, gin and one good cocktail on offer – an Aperol Spritz is always good to get the party going. Don’t get drunk till after midnight – by that time it doesn’t matter anymore


Hire a good DJ. Disco is better than pop or RnB, no music with a beat until after the food is cleared

Hosting Work the room. Don’t speak to anyone for too long. Fake an emergency to move on – as host you’re always allowed an emergency

Coat Check

Organise the coats. Don’t let anyone struggle to find theirs in a random pile – there’s nothing more annoying



A Magazine, Issue 86  
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