BEIRUT: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor started to play while Freya, the Norse goddess of love, made her dramatic appearance on the runway, crying tears of gold. Rather than belonging to a returned deity, the tears of gold were of fabric that ran down the skirt of the first evening gown Lebanese designer Reem Kachmar presented Wednesday in a private catwalk show on the final day of the L.I.P.S. Designers and Brands show.
The show opened the third and final day of the first edition of a show held at Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut that aimed to create “back to back” fashion shows where the maximum number of designers and brands can be hosted within a short period of time. Since Monday evening, the show has hosted some 29 designers from nine countries.
“Freya’s tears,” painted by French artist Anne Marie Zilberman, was the spark that ignited the idea for the collection of 12 evening gowns and one bridal gown presented by art-loving Reem Kachmar.
“The painting is very moving to me,” Kachmar told The Daily Star. “I don’t really know why she is crying but I can feel her pain.”
The painting led her to Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, and it was one of Klimt’s works, “The Beethoven frieze,” that brought with it the music. Reem’s creativity did the rest by blending all together in this imaginative conceptual collection that attempted to match music with art and fashion.
“All the gowns shapes and cuts are inspired by Klimt’s art, especially by his women’s portraits,” Kachmar said of her gowns, all but one featuring full-length, voluminous skirts with sculptured upper bodies.
This inspiration was reflected in the color palette as well, with metallic, silver, all shades of gold and black mixed together with splashes of purple.
Klimt’s inventive world was also present in the mixing of textures and embroidery. “There is embroidery in every dress and it’s all made in-house,” she told The Daily Star, adding that she wanted to use rich fabrics suited to a winter collection, such as Mikado and yacar silks.
Her bold and even eccentric pieces are not for the faint-hearted.
“The woman I dress is definitely not shy. On the contrary, she has a lot of character, she is strong and confident,” the admirer of Alexander McQueen explained, adding that she represents a blend of East and West. “The cultures are different. In Europe, you wouldn’t wear these gowns to a wedding but to a gala. In the Middle East you can [to a wedding].”
The collection closed with a theatrical bridal gown, something Reem Kachmar is famous for. It brought together white and gold with a Klimt-esque flowery touch.
Tuesday evening showcased similar dramatic flairs in Lebanese couture. Presenting lingerie, Jane Konsol revealed “Marry Jane.”
Her line exhibited an array of babydoll dresses, corsets and brassieres. Models lined the runway alongside Konsol’s high-energy soundtrack including “Baby, Baby, Baby,” – a track by Parisian duo, Make The Girl Dance, featured in a 2009 Victoria’s Secret advert.
Konsol’s models wore intimate lace and silk sleepwear contrasted with cropped fur coats.
“They were accessories I chose to give a classy look,” Konsol told The Daily Star following the show. “The theme I was going for was ‘strong independent women,’” she added.
Rima Bohsali, a known name in Lebanese haute couture, presented an array of women’s evening wear, featuring ball-gown and bridal ensembles. The crowd at Bohsali’s show featured notable names, including Lebanese actress Bernadette Hodeib.
Tuesday’s show exhibited a variety of motifs and color schemes drawing from the 1920s flapper generation and delicate femininity in a series of nude and pastel pink articles heavy with chiffon.
In between each concept, Bohsali transitioned with outfits using elements from her diverse designs. While the designer used the same fabrics in some changeovers, she opted for subtlety in others, focusing on details such as beading as she tied one series to the next.
The Grand Ballroom at the Four Seasons was the perfect setting for this collection as well as the others showcased in this new initiative by L.I.P.S. Management.
CEO Johnny Fadlallah shared his satisfaction with The Daily Star on the inaugural event’s success.
“I cannot answer my phone because so many more people want to come and we cannot host them all. This has exceeded all expectations,” Fadlallah said, expressing his happiness to be doing something he sees as so positive for his country.
“Due to this project, the Four Seasons has had a 100 percent rate of occupancy and we’ve redirected people to the neighboring hotels,” said Samantha Fadlallah, Johnny’s eldest daughter and right arm – L.I.P.S. Management is a thoroughly family affair. She then explained how fashion is one of the sectors that can boost a country’s tourism.
Samantha said that she used to ask her father why he didn’t go abroad. “Because I believe in Lebanon” was always his answer.
“Now I want to stay and do something for this country, I believe we can create change,” Samantha said.
“We have placed Beirut at the capital of [Middle Eastern] fashion,” Johnny said, adding: “Stay tuned, because a big surprise is coming in November.”