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Ballpen sketching

I’ve never been keen on drawing or illustrating. During my time in fashion school, I would get very lazy at detailing the hands, the nose, the hair, or eye makeup of my figurine sketches. I couldn’t wait to go to the cutting table, lay that thin paper and start drafting the pattern. 

During a job interview soon after graduation, I was asked by the designer’s assistant how much I could sell a dress for to a client, based on a sketch only. I remember looking at my portfolio and looking back again at the sketch he had presented me, with glitter spread all over the drawn dress, mimicking the sequins and Swarovski stones embellishments, and thinking to myself how difficult it would be for me to find a fashion house in Lebanon to fit in and gain experience from . 

It was 2009, at that time couture was the bread and butter of the fashion industry in Lebanon. At that time, and in order to be “successful”, a Lebanese designer had to prove him/herself abroad first , in order to gain value in the eye of the Lebanese consumers. 

The general mindset was that Lebanese-made ready-to-wear was not really worth the price, only couture dresses were worth spending money on. Retailers were neither keen on buying wholesale from local designers, fearing it might devalue their store image. 

I remember being at a meeting with a local boutique owner along with other designers. One of the designers asked if he would sell local designers fashion, to which he answered “I sell only one Lebanese brand, it’s because she (the designer) is Brazilian-Lebanese and lives in Brazil”.  To this day, retailers would rather place the merchandise on consignment instead of giving it a chance and actually buy the collection wholesale.

But luckily things change, the consumers’ mindset has changed a lot, this is why new brands are burgeoning, each one having something to say, whether it’s about aesthetics, sustainability, supporting the local community, preserving the craft, voicing the youth, and ultimately being this great vehicle for all the Lebanese culture there is to share through its people, its diaspora, and its history.

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That picture is 6 years old

That picture is 6 years old.

Back then I had highlights in my hair, but to this day I sit on the same stool, at the same sewing machine, in that same studio on Hamra street.

I am a maker.

I like to drape on a dummy or make a small sketch, draft a pattern, cut a “toile”, check the fit, pick the fabric, decide on the finishing, sew the prototype, grade the pattern in different sizes and sew the production, and deliver it to my stand. Also I take product shots, update my website, travel to participate to pop-ups, and be present for my clients, among many other tasks.

It is my name that is printed on the label, because I made your clothes.

Is it crazy to operate this way? Of course.

But I master my product, and only because I care soooo much about it.

After a few years of experience at different fashion houses, I knew that I needed to create my own definition of success.

And for me success is about balance and growth and meaningfulness, but never at the expense of others, and never for the sole sake of financial backers.

Just conscious sustainability.

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When it comes to sourcing materials

When it comes to sourcing materials

When it comes to sourcing materials, I mainly rely on what’s available locally. My activities aren’t yet big enough to require large fabric quantity orders from overseas international mills. Organic fabrics, tech fabrics, recycled fibers, all these dreamy options have a noble cost and I hope to be able to make that organic transition in the future. But for now, and although it’s a drop in an ocean of fashion waste, I do get some satisfaction from buying stock fabric rolls that ended up in Beirut instead of a landfill. And I have to say that I do get very excited when I find some gems from now-closed Italian factories. In a tiny marketplace such as Lebanon, we all have a role to play, no matter how big or small, to maintain a “healthy” ecosystem. When corrupted public powers are purposely failing local players by lack of investment or support, it becomes even more important to #buylocal and #fairtrade

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The way we do things

Mini Harris Vest | nadine mneimneh

Citing Dries Van Noten for whom I have tremendous admiration, from the Netflix documentory “Dries” :

“To shock now, you really have to do crazy things. Everything you can find on the Internet, Everything. So it is very difficult to stand out by shocking, so it is now more the way you do things, the subtleties, that are important.”

So meaningful to me.. I’m sharing with you a closeup of the Mini Harris Vest, as part of the Edition series of unique pieces. This jacket is sold out, but remembering the steps of making it still tickles my creativity

 

Mini Harris Vest | nadine mneimneh
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Happy New Year 2019

Happy New Year 2019

Five years ago on that day, I was getting myself ready to meet my friends and celebrate, when we received a phone call at home that my grandfather had just passed away.

I had a weird gut feeling throughout that day, and when we got that phone call, it hit me how, most of the time, our gut feeling can be a guiding thread.

Fast forward a couple of months later, I met somebody who opened my eyes on human energy, how it work, and how it’s important to trust the way we feel.

I’m someone who is sensitive by nature, and my personal goal has been to learn to trust myself and let go of all the negativity and fear, which is not very easy when you are solo running a business in a country such as Lebanon.

Every year I have a special thought for my grandfather on that day, and I make the same wishes of finding the strength to go out of my comfort zone, to trust that gut feeling and to be surrounded by people that vibrate positivity.

2018 was a wonderful year for me , of course we all have ups and downs, but I’m looking forward to 2019 and I’ll keep pushing as a celebration of all the gifts I was lucky to be given.

Have a Wonderful New Year, may all your wishes come true ❤️

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The heart seeks pleasure first

The heart seeks pleasure first

I’m always looking for the perfect soundtracks of my life. As music accompanies me throughout my days, waltzing with my imagination, it also sets the rhythm of my heartbeat. This picture of me was taken by my lovely sister @carine_stereo during my last trip to the UK, at the breathtaking Seven Sisters Cliffs beach, and Michael Nyman was playing in my head.

I’m working on the new collection, it will be out soon 🙂