Firstly, it is a creative fashion hub for the region, full of specialized items that you’d have difficulty finding in a meanstream store. The only thing that these items have in common is that they are artistic, they are different; what they are varies extensively, from a luxury household accessory to a stunning dress for a dinner date.
Owned by partners Ghena Hariri and Neiman Azzi, The Designers’ Entourage has exclusive rights to bespoke designers from around the world. Nikos Koulis, Azza Fahmy, Mina D’Ornano and Marielle Byworth are just four of the designers it stocks; each has been chosen for their ‘something different’. D’Ornano’s fashion designs, for example, are characterized by hand painting, embroidery and intricate knitting techniques. The products are also popular, however: Fahmy’s jewelry has recently been sported by none other than pop-star Rihanna. The designers they have invested in – however risqué – have so far proved to be worth the gamble.
On top of this, the store’s pieces come from a mishmash of countries, cultures and influences. In tune with the diversity that characterizes the store, current designs are taken from different continents: Asia (Hong Kong) Europe (Italy and France) and Africa (Egypt). With diversity the key, how do Ghena and Neiman choose their designers? Their overriding criterion is “a form of uniqueness and elegance” in each of the designs that they curate. Ghena also mentions that she and Neiman know most of the designers personally, having followed their development on a long-term basis.
Finally, there is the layout of the store itself. Such an eclectic mix of produce could not be hosted in a normal shop. In alignment with its concept, the Entourage’s setting is a mixture of east and west, with dainty high arched ceilings and a layout that tends to minimalism and space. Random objects are scattered around – like a full-length mirror with a woman’s bust reaching out of the top of it, in a fashion both tortured and exultant – that both create an atmosphere and are products for purchase. Indeed, you feel more like you are visiting an artist’s warehouse – one that you can participate in – than entering a commercial space. It makes a subtle political statement too, combining North and South Lebanon in its design: the white-brass work that predominates over the showroom is straight out of Tripolian tradition; the leatherwork also used is Saida-derived. The mix – material, brass, leather – combines to create an eclectic and distinctive look.
Subtitled by Ghena and Neiman as a “showroom”, The Designers’ Entourage is an artistic area of exhibition in itself. Spacious, filled with light, it is a pleasure to walk in. It calls for one to attend to the designs – many of which are handmade – with minutiae of detail; this is no spot for a quick-fix buy.
The Designers’ Entourage is aimed at men and women who are looking for pieces that are unique and creative; people who love the artistry of fashion and style and bring their own individualism to it. Like Alexander McQueen, who collapsed barriers between fashion and art in his collections, Ghena and Neiman are catering for a clientele with a vision of their own.
BeirutNightLife.com was in the opening of the unique concept at Saifi a couple of months ago, here is a peak of what we saw through our lense.