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Haute Couture. A French word tailored for some of our most talented Lebanese designers. In this article, we will introduce to you some of the best hidden Lebanese haute couture designers – Elie Saab and Reem Acra aren’t all that Lebanon has to offer! Some of these designers have probably made it to some of the biggest runways, and the sad part is, you’ve probably never heard of them, or let’s be honest, never heard of some of them.
Rony El Arief
Rony Al Arief’s fashion line emphasises on highlighting each woman’s elegance and unique character. The fascinating structure of each of his dresses elegantly shows off the beauty of womanly curves. From bridal dresses to evening dresses, his shop is full of mesmerising and entirely unique designs.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RonyElAreifcouture/
Joanna T. Azar
Joanna T. Azar opened her colourful Maison de Haute Couture in Jal El-Dib, starting strong with her passion for fashion. Her exceptional gift of combining vivid fabrics together manages to take our breath away, with some of her hypnotising designs and delightfully alluring dresses.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/joannatazar/
Kevork Makassian, a Lebanese Armenian designer, is well known for mixing different kinds of fabrics in his dresses. Combining his talent with a variety of styles, Kevork is well-known for his admiration of the woman’s figure, which is especially apparent in his latest line of chiffon laced dresses.
With Elie’s engineered-to-perfection dresses, he manages to combine structure with style with his fabric effortlessly, giving us some of the most luxurious and extravagant dresses a woman can show off her physique in. With a combination of coloured fabrics and elegant simple designs, getting inside one of his creations would certainly be an experience.
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/elieawadatelier/
Romantic and feminine are two words to describe Sara Mrad’s designs. Sara Mrad’s dresses are designed with a rare sense of style that will fascinate you with the hidden details in each dress. Beautifully and uniquely made, these blush, pastel coloured gowns are made to make you feel like the royalty you are.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Sara-Mrad-212703238759086/
The son of a well known couturier, Tony Ward was meant to be in the fashion industry. Having his exclusive atelier in Moscow, he managed to captivate a number of celebrities and socialites with his alluring designs. Combining luxury with elegance in his ateliers, Tony Ward is destined to leave his signature in the fashion world.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TonyWardCouture/
When I think of wine, particularly fine wine, my first thought is of sipping a cold glass of Cote du Rhone on the Champs-Elysees, or an elegant Chianti in Tuscany, mulling its fruity taste and enjoying its robust bitter finish while I gaze at sprawling vineyards and contemplate life’s bigger questions. But therein lies the problem: I am not a wine drinker, nor have I earned the experience and knowledge to deem myself worthy of understanding or analyzing the sophisticated spirit. My immediate thoughts of wine are spawns of preconceived notions conditioned by the mainstream culture of what wine is. What online survey or cultural magazine does not include places such as Central Italy, Paris, Spain, and Argentina on the top of their lists? And rightfully so, these places have earned their legitimacy as the top growers and sellers, and their vineyards and products speak for themselves; however, I cannot deny that I, like many others who sip their wine rather than chug only because etiquette demands it and not because of an educated sense, have fallen victim to the favorable consensus and forgotten the small finesses that other, lesser-known wineries may possess.
The same can be true about wine culture in Lebanon. Local giants such as Ksara, Kefraya, and Musar have transcended anonymity and have become some of the country’s biggest exports to the Gulf and even the West, forsaking the people’s need to dig deeper and explore and instead settling us down with the popular and familiar.
This is not to discredit these brands. Their fame and reputation are more than justified, and we are proud to have them. But like in any competitive business, the underdog must be sought out and acknowledged.
And so, in seeking out these answers, my girlfriend and I decided to take a trip to wine country, both for romantic and educational purposes.
We ventured northeast off the coast, to the small towns of Edde and Smar Jbeil in Batroun District and cruised along the beautiful road that leads up to the churches of Saint Rafka and Saint Hardini. We stopped at all the local wineries, all of which were closed, including the popular IXSIR, which was busy prepping a wedding ceremony. Feeling defeated, we made one last attempt and stopped at Clos du Phoenix, a small winery situated by the main road.
Oblivious to the inconveniencies of others and driven by youthful resilience, we knocked on the door of a house near the winery and were luckily and undeservedly greeted by a friendly old woman who introduced us to her daughter Ayda, the winery’s official guide. Ayda explained to us, the ignorants that we were, that wineries must be contacted beforehand to ensure a guide is available and that we were lucky to have found her on such a short notice. We nodded agreeably, feeling foolish at our unannounced visit and grateful for her patience and hospitality. She directed us to their humble cellar, wrought with the deep and intoxicating fragrance of fermented grapes, and gave us a step-by-step guide of the process from harvest and picking to sorting, crushing and fermentation; the white and rose grapes heaped together while the red given its own distinct process. We mounted up the ladders to the containers and stared down, mindful not to ruin the precious batch with our drool.
For the tasting, we went up a spiral of stairs to a rooftop with a lovely view and were treated to samples concocted from Marsanne, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Grenache among other varietals expertly supervised by Burgundian winemaker Yvan Jobard. Ayda recounted a story of a sommelier who was dining at a Lebanese restaurant and who ordered a glass of Syrah only to be given a glass of Ksara instead. The somm, expert that he is, tasted the difference and made a point of exposing it. Ayda, a promising somm herself, expressed the same disappointment in the mainstream but was hopeful of the expansion of the culture.
Finally, with the sun setting over the water, we were escorted out of the winery, a little tipsier and a little prouder. We thanked Ayda for her generosity as you would a family member, and that’s what the Clos du Phoenix is: a family rather than a corporation.
We left with a bottle of white Emiresse and made a vow to drink it only on occasion. The next day, it was gone.
Check out the Clos Du Phoenix website for more information.
Photo credit: Clos Du Phoenix Facebook page
Visiting different countries is always fun, and experiencing different tastes, visiting new places, and getting to know another – or your own – country’s heritage should always play a big part of your journey. And there’s no better place to do so other than at a museum. A place where you can walk in the hallways of the country’s course of development, exploring its victorious battles, and all the little things that played a big role in constructing what the country is today, from its broad collection of jewellery, weapons, literature, and even unusual objects like silk and soap. Here at Beirut View, we provide you with our list of Lebanon’s Must Visit Museums.
If you’re a seeker of the beauties of history, whether you’re a foreigner or one of the locals, this museum should definitely be on your “must visit” list. Robert Mouawad Private Museum is one of Lebanon’s most prestigious and elegant museums. With its breathtaking garden, filled with monuments, to the spectacular mansion packed with gorgeous jewellery, our ancient Lebanese flag going back to the 1960s, books, and even Chinese porcelain, you will be treated with a trip back in time to some of Lebanon’s finest periods.
This might be the first you hear of a soap museum, but it exists, and it’s one of Lebanon’s most wonderfully informative monuments. Dating back to the 13th century, this landmark is located in Saida (Sidon), South Lebanon and is a fragrant delight for the senses. Saida has been famed for its production of olive oil-based soap throughout history. The museum not only provides its visitors with a historical tour but also introduces them to the fascinating procedure of soap making. We reckon you’ll enjoy the tour, but enjoy the soap factory shop even more.
In addition to our soap production, Lebanon was also renowned in history for its silk production. Based in Bsous, Mount Lebanon, The Silk Museum introduces its visitors to the ancient secret production of silk. Despite being first discovered in China, silk production made its way to our Lebanese lands and became one of our great commercial and cultural historical heritages. Whether you’re a fashionista, a history fanatic, or just a person with a passion for aesthetics, this place has something for you.
The next museum on our list takes us down a more solemn journey. Based in Byblos, Jbeil, the Aram Bezikian Museum plays a large role in maintaining the memory of the lost souls of the Armenian Genocide that occurred in 1915, and introducing the story of the surviving orphans and their journey of resettlement and adjustment in Lebanon, their new home. This museum plays a big role in introducing the world to one of history’s most heartbreaking events.
The Banque Du Liban Museum is considered to be one of the world’s most beautifully executed museums of coins and bank notes. Your visit begins with a short movie, followed by a tour with one of the superb staff members. After the tour, visitors are free to roam as they please. The tour includes a look at some of Lebanon’s remarkable collections of paper money and coins, a marvel to behold for both avid collectors and passing tourists alike.
The party doesn’t stop in Beirut, so we’ve got plenty of festivals lined up for you this month.
Ay caliente! With over 90 professional artists, 15 DJs, 100 workshops, and endless pool parties, whether you’re a beginner or the sexiest tango dancer out there, Eddé Sands is really bringing the heat this year with their annual Latin Festival – a great way to spice up your date night or mingle with sexy singles.
See their website for more details.
The Shtrumpf Beer Fest needs no introduction. At “25 Beers Old”, their Beer Fest has become a milestone in the Lebanese calendar. Head their way this month for open beer and great food – keep an eye out on their Facebook page for fun offers (aged 25? Pay just LL25,000! Is your name Abeer? Win free entry!).
There’s something for everyone in Beirut – even horror and fantasy lovers. The Maskoon Film Festival has a rich programme boasting a variety of internationally acclaimed films of the horror/thriller/fantasy/action genres that have not been released before in Lebanon. Held at Metropolis Empire Sofil and Music Hall, the programme also includes master classes, family screenings, conferences, and more.
See their Facebook page for more details.
After all the partying, beer, thrills, and chills, what better way to relax than some yoga? Head down to the Hippodrome for some spiritual and physical cleansing with international and local yoga and meditation teachers and speakers, covering a variety of topics and workshops for both adults and children.
See their website for more details.
End the month by supporting the much-loved local Lebanese band Adonis. Celebrate the release of their third studio album, ‘Nour’, as they perform new tracks and older favourites at RAW Beirut, spinning ‘soulful lyrics over vibrant colourful tunes’.
See their event for more details.
Built in 1935, located in the heart of Beirut in Spears Street, in the Sanayeh district, this charming traditional house was the family home of Moustapha Yamouth (alias Zico). Lover of the arts and culture, he started using available spaces in the building for performance rehearsals. Soon, he realized the necessity for artists to have a space where they can create and express themselves and decided to promote and help emerging artists with interesting ideas and projects, especially those who didn’t have the means to produce their own work.
In 1999, Beirut was selected to be the Cultural Capital of the Arab World; this was when Zico House, the civil society organization for culture and development,was officially born. Zico’s home was increasingly associated with the arts and soon, by word of mouth, it became the place where cultural events took place. The whole building became a house for ecological, social, youth and cultural organizations.
Since 1999, around 250 activities have been hosted in Zico House such as: exhibitions, poetry readings, installations, story telling, debates, video screenings, dance performances, theatre plays, concerts, ciné-club, workshops, etc…
The impact of Zico House as a center for artistic creativity and experimentation is not only due to the quality of the works and innovative ventures, but to its unique cultural atmosphere and a constant inflow of people and ideas. The cultural endeavour initiated by Zico was to support both artistic creations and development work by civil society organizations, all conjoined in the same place: experimental artwork, students’ projects, small theater rehearsals, painting exhibitions, site-specific installations, as well as providing a space for social development projects, social associations and civic institutions. Zico House’s aim has always been to become a notable cultural center and to date, no other such multi-faceted center exists in Lebanon.
Gallery Zamaan was founded in March 1990, focusing primarily on reproductions of old postcards from the Middle East.
It wasn’t long before Zamaan decided to take upon itself the launch and promotion of young and/or newly discovered talented Arab artists.
At a pace of 2 exhibitions per month on average, more than 184 Exhibitions have taken place at the gallery since the year 2000.
Zamaan takes pride in its private collection of more than 1,700 paintings, carefully chosen and acquired over the years, all of which are available on this website.
The collection includes a very wide selection of paintings: contemporary and old, Middle Eastern (Lebanese, Syrian, Iraki, Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian, Palestinian) and European, all sorts of mediums used: Lithography, Oil, Gouache, Watercolour, Pencil, Gravure, Pastel, Acrylic, Aquarelle, etc.
More than 2,800 paintings have been sold at the gallery since the year 2000.
VOX Cinemas was introduced in the year 2000 to the Middle East and has since become the region’s most innovative and customer-focused cinema experience. VOX Cinemas is owned and operated by Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas, which is the cinema arm of the wider Majid Al Futtaim Ventures group of businesses.
With 263 screens currently across the region, including the 14 locations in the UAE, 11 in Oman and 1 each in Beirut and Egypt, VOX Cinemas has screened over 5,000 films to 50 million customers over the past 15 years with an estimated footfall of 6.5 million visitors in 2014.
As well as being the region’s largest cinema exhibitor, it is also the most innovative. VOX Cinemas features high-resolution digital projection systems, immersive digital 3D content, expansive VOX MAX screens, Dolby Atmos and 7.1 multidimensional surround sound systems as well as premium experiences such as IMAX with Laser, VOX THEATRE by Rhodes, VOX GOLD, VOX 4DX and value-oriented seating alternatives.
VOX Cinemas tailors every cinema location to the surrounding market place and to its guest’s preferences by offering a mix of different cinema concepts including VOX IMAX with Laser, VOX MAX, VOX GOLD, VOX 4DX, VOX THEATRE by Rhodes, VOX KIDS, VOX Plus and VOX 3D.
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Home to an increasing number of emerging talents and established artists, Beirut still falls short on providing necessary artistic hubs and cultural platforms for the creative and artistic scene to grow and thrive. Being part of this artistic scene, the urge to find a space and turn it into a cultural meeting point has made us look into different directions.
Fortunately and to much of our surprise and joy, Gemmayzé offers such a space charged with its very own architectural and cultural heritage in the form of “Theatre Gemmayze” located on the premises of the Collège des Frères du Sacré-Coeur, the century-old school accessible through the main entrances of Gouraud Street and Pasteur Street.
This hidden treasure is a 317 seat theatre co-joined by a charming and spacious hall that could perfectly host exhibitions and artistic events. Blessed with an easy access and a spacious parking space, (400 cars capacity), this cultural meeting point bound to attract the avid artistic-going crowd and furthermore initiate a growing segment into the cultural dimension.
Amongst beautiful olive groves, old stone terraces and gardens, discover the secrets of silk at The Silk Museum, Bsous, Caza Aley.
Visit the Silk Museum and its gardens from early May until early November.
Shop at the Boutique for artisanal and local produce whilst enjoying a drink, coffee or mini snack. Buy a wide range of beautiful and aromatic plants that you see in the gardens.
Find ways throughout the Museum to link with the scented spice routes,
the famous ‘Silk Road’ and the ancient exchanges of silk between the land of the Cedar and the East and the West.