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Tony Ward

Owner, Tony Ward

Basil Soda

Owner, Basil Soda

How has your brand developed? TONY WARD My father started the fashion house in 1965. He was one of the designers who used to work for Lebanon’s elite, and he […]

How has your brand developed?

TONY WARD My father started the fashion house in 1965. He was one of the designers who used to work for Lebanon’s elite, and he also frequently worked with international clients, although he never moved out of the country. He preferred to have the clients come to Lebanon, until the war changed the situation. In 1988, I went to Paris to study design, and I worked there for six years with various designers, including Dior, Lanvin, and Claude Montana. Then I came back to Beirut. We started our ready-to-wear collection five years ago out of Milan, and the bridal collection three years ago, also with a showroom in Milan. We always had couture wedding dresses, and now we have a bridal collection that serves around 35 countries.

BASIL SODA People called me the Greek gladiator designer because many of my designs have represented a woman of strong character. In 2006, I brought out a collection called Parure-Armure, or “Jewelry and Armor,” which was based around the contradiction between attractive jewelry and the armor normally worn in combat. There was a political message as this was during the conflict with Israel. This Parure-Armure combination suits me in some way, as I like the feminine side of women, but am also interested in the more masculine aspect that women can possess. In this vein I have also created a men’s collection that encapsulates the role of the man, while representing a certain femininity at the same time. Everything for me is about duality.

What do you see for the future of Lebanese design?

TW There is a lot of talent in Lebanon. We still have a chaotic situation here; fortunately, we get our inspiration from the chaos. The region is a demanding one for the fashion industry. You need young designers to cater to the market, because certain clientele are not willing to spend substantial sums of money. This is why you have a number of young designers coming in producing lower-priced, ready-to-wear fashion, as the market can sustain this. Ideally, the good ones will grow and start doing something more significant in the industry, whilst the less-sustainable designers in the market will fall away.

BS I worked with the students at ESMOD for one year. I believe that we should run dedicated fashion weeks, as there are at least five or six Lebanese designers who stage couture and príªt-í -porter shows, and we also have a good market for couture. This would be of considerable advantage to us, and would expose the younger generation to a broader range of fashion as not everybody of course has the means to travel to a show in Paris. It costs at least ‚¬400,000 to do so, and not everybody can afford it every season. Putting on shows in Beirut would naturally be much cheaper, and they would gain visibility and profit from the press.

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