Lebanese design duo Azzi and Osta have persevered through what has been a make-or-break year.
Between withstanding Lebanon’s economic crisis and ensuing protests that crippled their country, the global pandemic and the aftermath of a horrific explosion in Beirut, the last 12 months brought setback after setback. But George Azzi and Assaad Osta have emerged more focused than ever.
At the end of last year as the world was at a standstill, they launched their global e-commerce platform to showcase their ready-to-wear. “That was one of our biggest achievements during this COVID-19 year, to be able to go to more places and reach more people and markets,” said Azzi.
He and Osta have been well-known for their couture since they launched in 2010. They were first catapulted to global recognition in 2018 when Beyoncé wore one of their designs to a pre-Grammy celebration. Recently they forged ahead with the reveal of their fall 2021 collection in their digital Paris showroom reflecting the brand’s forward momentum. Styled by Dena Giannini and photographed by Amanda Charchian, the designers shot the collection in L.A., a nod to their international expansion plans and appeal beyond the Middle East.
Known for their structural silhouettes, the collection reimagines men’s suiting with a feminine twist. There are sharp-cut masculine trousers with tulle corsets and plunging tuxedo jackets revealing origami-fold suede detail. Deconstructed dinner jackets for cocktail parties are finished with exaggerated couture bows. The playful silhouettes emerge in a riot of sequins, velvet, crepe and tulle. The collection marries sculpted tailoring with sensual-reveal deep slits and sliced-away bodices.
The collection finds inspiration in the late ’90s, a time the designers say was very formative since it was their early teenage years in Lebanon. It brings in the nostalgia of their first fashion sketches, and mood boards, their first purchase of chiffon after weeks of saving.
“We often find ourselves going back there, to those years where our minds were full of dreams and expectations,” said Azzi.
Osta added: “The collection pays tribute to the moment in time when we chose this path. The time when we discovered our purpose and started to dream big. It was a time full of endless inspiration, crazy ideas and sleepless summer nights — when we were too busy envisaging the future to sleep.”
Both Azzi and Osta describe themselves as optimists, and say they will always look outward, while staying firmly planted in their home city of Beirut.