To say Lebanon has a waste problem would be an understatement. Infamously known as “garbage mountains”, heaps and mounds of rubbish piles have mushroomed across the nation since the 1990s. In an effort to tackle the ongoing garbage crisis in the Levant country, the Lebanese municipality of Jbeil announced that it is banning the use of plastic bags. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched the #StopTheBurning campaign, after it was revealed that staff at the landfills had been instructed to burn the vast amounts of garbage leftover by the 2015 crisis.
Now, Lebanese designer Roni Helou is hoping to further draw more attention to his country’s ongoing crisis via fashion.
The 26-year-old was selected amongst 16 other creatives from all across the globe to represent the Arab world at “Brave New Worlds”, the sixth edition of the International Fashion Showcase (IFS), currently underway in London. Designers were invited to showcase compelling installations to represent their respective countries through the lens of politics, sustainability, and identity. A staunch advocate for environmental and animal rights, it’s no surprise that Helou chose to use the platform to shed light on Lebanon’s trash problem.
Entitled “Wasteland, Wanderland” the designer’s IFS installation explores the attitudes and behaviors concerning recycling and waste. Made primarily from recycled materials, the sustainable collection confronts the phenomena of how local geographies in the developing world are shifting as a result of the endless accumulation of landfill rubbish head on. “The installation is split into two parts, dark and light, to signify how Lebanon is engulfed in garbage, while the bright side offers possible solutions.
“Being an environmentalist, the opportunity to shed the light on the need for sustainability and change is of a crucial importance to me,” shares the Creative Space Beirut graduate. “Especially in a country such as Lebanon facing serious problems, the garbage crisis for instance, which served as a starting point for this collection,” he stated.
The International Fashion Showcase nurtures and presents work from the best of the emerging fashion talent from around the globe. 2019 marks Lebanon’s second participation in the program, having won the award for Best Curation for “Blueprint Beirut” by Tala Hajjar, Starch Foundation co-founder, in 2016. The installation was designed by architect Eli Metni, and featured eight emerging designers from the Starch Foundation program, including Margarita Abi-Hanna, Joe Arida, Mira Hayek, Timi Hayek, Rayya Morcos, Nour Najem, Sevag Dilsizian, and Bashar Assaf.
“Wasteland, Wonderland” is open daily at the West Wing Galleries, Somerset House until February 24, 2019.