BEIRUT: Beirut is often seen as the center of the Middle East’s fashion scene and is home to old-hand couturiers like Elie Saab as well as fresh streetwear designers like Roni Helou, which begs the question: Who is educating the new generation of designers?
Creative Space Beirut has made a name for itself as one of the only free design schools in the city to provide fashion education for a select number of talented individuals — just 11 students have graduated since it opened its doors in 2011 — and Arab News caught up with its founder to learn more about what makes the school such a unique learning environment.
“The idea of Creative Space Beirut came about in 2010. I was trying to find a way to merge my passions, which is creativity and social justice,” founder Sarah Hermez told Arab News.
“We’ve graduated 11 students so far. Each year, we accept between five to seven so, it’s a very intensive, very intimate type of program and that’s because after the students graduate through our recommendations, we help them with jobs opportunities or collaborations as much as we can,” she added.
One of those designers is streetwear aficionado Roni Helou, who debuted his first collection at the 2017 edition of Fashion Forward Dubai.
The self-proclaimed animal rights, human rights and environmental activist is known for tailored trousers, separates and versatile pieces that can be worn in different ways and are made primarily from recycled materials.
“During my three years at Creative Space I was exposed to a lot of people like a lot of important people in the industry and I learnt a lot of things (that) maybe in other schools, with a different curriculum, I wouldn’t have learned,” he told Arab News of the school’s three-year program which focuses heavily on experiential learning rather than traditional compartmentalized classes.
According to Hermez, fashion lovers should think twice before applying to the school.
“Often times, when people… before they go to fashion school they think, just because they like to go shopping that they want to be a fashion designer,” she said. “But then soon after they realize that it has nothing to do with that. The fashion industry is not a glamorous industry. It’s a super hard-working industry. It’s about passion, it’s about talent and commitment.”