Lebanese fashion blogger struts her stuff

BEIRUT: “Hard work pays off, consistency is key and we should always keep dreaming,” Lebanese fashion blogger and entrepreneur Lana El Sahely said as she reflected on her personal success after walking Dolce & Gabbana’s runway at Milan Fashion Week. On Feb. 26, Sahely was the only model from the Arab world to take to the D&G catwalk, as part of a group of millennial A-listers, celebrity progenies and social media personalities who were personally invited by the luxury fashion house to exhibit D&G’s fall/winter 2017-18 collection.

“It was my first time at Milan Fashion Week and my first experience ever with Dolce & Gabbana,” Sahely, 26, told The Daily Star. “I got to meet both designers and chitchat about the fashion scene in the Middle East, as well as my blogging journey.”

Sahely launched her fashion blog, “L’Armoire De Lana,” six years ago. The initiative made her the first female fashion blogger in the Arab world. L’Armoire De Lana, she said, functioned as “a peephole into a beautiful yet eccentrically fashionable closet.” Having accumulated over 170,000 followers on Instagram, the popular photo-sharing application, Sahely has become a major influencer in the region.

In the few short years since her blog emerged, Sahely has collaborated with a number of luxury fashion houses, including the likes of Dior, Chloe, Lanvin and Valentino. She has also worked closely with high-end makeup brand MAC Cosmetics.

Prior to D&G’s February show, the young entrepreneur had not been in touch with the Italian fashion house. The relationship began when she was contacted by Dolce & Gabbana in September 2016. At that time, she was extended an invitation to walk in their upcoming Milan show.

“Stefano Gabbana became very engaged [with me] on social media and was ‘liking’ and reposting my photos,” she recalled. “It’s truly a reward to meet people who are currently making history.”

For the show, Sahely wore a black velvet smoking jacket over a silk pajama set, with a statement crown. According to Sahely, the outfit was a collaborative effort between herself and Dolce & Gabbana.

“I initially had a beautiful, typical Dolce & Gabbana dress in my mind,” she confessed, “but after discussing with the designer, he felt that a laid-back and elegant oversized silk pajama with an overdressed jacket, accompanied by details such as a beautiful broche, necklaces and a crown would suit me the best.”

Dolce & Gabbana took “The New Renaissance” as their theme for the collection. The young generation of personalities taking over the runway personified the idea of renaissance, given that many of the “models” have communicated unconventional ideas in the course of their as-yet brief but luminous careers.

Born to Lebanese parents and raised in Cameroon, Sahely arrived in Lebanon after high school to study economics and political science at the American University of Beirut. She then stayed to complete a master’s degree in media studies and sociology.

Sahely said that her upbringing played a key role in her career, furnishing her with the motivation to work. “I grew up and was raised by my mother who really always made sure to teach us everything about our region’s values and way of being,” Sahely said when asked about the relationship between her identity and career. “However, what has shaped me the most is actually representing my region every time I travel.”

In 2014, Sahely married Ali Awada in a luxurious Beirut ceremony. Vogue Arabia ranked the “fairy-tale” event among the top 10 most beautiful Arab weddings. Sahely was in good company: Jordan’s Queen Rania and King Abdullah were also featured on the list of couples wedded in fashion industry-approved opulence.

More recently, Sahely was named one of Harper’s Bazaar’s “Best Dressed” of 2017.

Sahely is currently covering Paris Fashion Week but will soon return to Lebanon, where the entrepreneur will take the next steps toward launching her e-shop.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 10, 2017, on page 2.




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