Lebanese Designer Racha El Abbas
Thank you Serine Dalloul, our Middle East Contributing Editor for this great introduction.
Beirut-born designer Racha El Abbas was raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. At the age of eighteen she moved to Beirut to join the School of Architecture & Design at the American University of Beirut as an architecture student only to find herself drawn to the world of Graphic Design, experimenting with media and discovering new graphic and tactile textures.
After graduating in 2003, Racha soon joined the creative team at the global advertising firm, Leo Burnett. Her career as an Art Director came to an end after five years, when it was time to give the dream of making beautiful garments a shot. In 2008, Racha resigned her position and moved to Paris to fulfill this aspiration. With the hope to marry her Graphic design background with a rich fashion and textile design experience, she joined an intensive fashion design program at Parsons Paris where she discovered a great passion for experimental draping, surface treatment and the design of prints.
In 2010, Racha decided to venture into designing a collection of garments she had conceptualized in Paris, and now serves as an introduction to a lifelong research of textile design and surface treatment. She was selected to be a member of Starch to launch her first prêt-a-porter fashion collection. Her collections are inspired by a coupled study of contemporary architecture and fabric. Their forms dwell on structural rhythms and their surfaces tell a tale of prints imprinted with a bold graphic sense.
Greatest inspirations or influences?
I am actually inspired by everything I perceive and experience in my daily life! I am mostly stimulated visually so everything around me transforms into the most interesting abstractions. Urban and nature textures are abstracted into graphic forms and orchestrated into rhythmic graphic patterns.
Fashion icons in your opinion? It could be anyone! Someone who always expresses herself/himself, through attitude and fashion, with a heightened sense of individuality. Favorite websites.blogs? I try to follow up on different aspects of design in general, fashion, industrial, environmental, experiential, graphic, etc.. Although I still enjoy the feel of paper and the smell of fresh ink in magazines, these are a few sites/blogs that I am always looking into:
How do you see the fashion industry developing in the Middle East? I see a lot of mushrooming of local designers which is a reflection of the growing creative talent in the region. However, there is a great challenge for designers to maintain their "creative edge" in their work and resist temptations to follow trends and turn mainstream in order to attract a wider range of clientele.
Starch! Starch in Saifi Village, Beirut, Lebanon I think you really have to go everywhere! Enjoy discovering exclusive boutiques in hidden alleys, especially while on vacation, and you will be pleasantly surprised to find special pieces that remain part of your "favorites" for years and years. Anything else about yourself youd like to share? I would like to share with you how grateful I am for my Starch experience! It made me realize what I am capable of achieving, and so I have grown so much personally and professionally in such a short time. Thanks Rabih, Tala, and Solidere!