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Inside the Minimalist Universe of Lama Jouni, Where Wardrobe Essentials are Reborn

Photo: Sam Allison

In Lebanese designer Lama Jouni’s workspace, located in Dubai, the understated interior echoes her brand’s aesthetic. “I’m very minimalistic, therefore everything around me is as well,” says Jouni. The creative typically works from her dining area, overlooking Burj Khalifa, because she loves the natural light that shines through her expansive window. The room is organized except for the days when she’s deep into the design process, then things can get messy. All genres of music can be heard throughout the rooms. Jouni remarks that “music is a big part of my design process because it’s always aligned with the vision of each collection.” Jouni has multiple workspaces depending on the mood she’s in and the type of work she’s doing. “I like Nightjar in Alserkal if I’m doing creative work because they have good music; Cassette if the weather is nice and I would like to be outdoors; and D3 if I have meetings with my suppliers,” she says. During her research phase, her work universe revolves around being outdoors.

Jouni works in multiple workspaces across Dubai – from Alserkal Avenue to Dubai Design District – to envision pieces out of materials that will be reused in the next collection; nothing is ever wasted. Photo: Courtesy of Lama Jouni

Sustainability also plays a key role in the brand’s mission. Every season, Jouni orders materials that will be reused in the next collection; nothing is ever wasted. “We have no inventory of fabrics,” says the ready-to-wear designer. The brand also refrains from using zippers, buttons, and any hardware materials. All labels and hang tags are made from 100% organic cotton. “I try as much as I can to not use any materials that are bad for the environment.”

The designer recounts that her fashion journey began as a child in her mother’s beauty salon in Jeddah. “I grew up in her work environment, always surrounded by women and intrigued by how they were dressed,” she says. Though Jouni had very limited access to the fashion world at the time, her father insisted she move to Paris to pursue her passion for design. In 2016, with the idea of providing well designed, staple pieces that complement a woman’s body, at a cost-effective price, the Lama Jouni ready-to-wear label was launched. After training at some of the most respected houses in Paris such as Balmain and Rad Hourani, Jouni felt there was a gap in the market between luxury and fast fashion. “I wanted to position the brand in-between,” says the designer. “I wanted to have a range of options that women can benefit from, whether that’s a suit, a jacket, pants, a skirt, a top, etc.”

Photo: Sam Allison

Cutouts are a common theme throughout all the collections, with the inspiration coming from a woman’s body. “My strength is that I understand where to put a cutout and how to insert a seam to enhance a woman’s figure. I always pay attention to how it’s going to look on her body and where it’s going to flatter her.” When asked what plans are in store for the future, she says, “I want to launch larger sizing and a different category of essentials such as swimwear and suit jackets.” The success of Lama Jouni, the brand, correlates with the designer’s obsession with the behind-the-scenes operations and creating a solid foundation. “I care about the small details like creating the best product, packaging, and client experience,” she states. In the beginning Jouni would fulfill orders from her home, but soon partnered with Hellmann for warehouse, distribution, and logistics purposes. Her inventory sits next to brands such as Louis Vuitton and Birkenstock. “I pop in once a week for quality control of the packaging, products, and SKUs.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lama Jouni

The Dubai-based designer has challenged the common notion that a glamorous, well-staffed office is needed for success. Jouni is an avid believer in minimizing costs and injecting everything in terms of revenue and sales, back into the brand. She outsources people who work from around the world. “I work with the best teams; we have a positive synergy, and we understand what we want to achieve together.” Today, the Lama Jouni brand has almost 35 international retailers and can be spotted on sites such as Revolve, Farfetch, Intermix, and Browns. “Haute couture Arab designers are famous worldwide, but we don’t speak enough about the ready-to-wear Arab brands that are making it globally,” she remarks. In the meantime, Jouni continues to push the industry and region to promote ready-to-wear that is shifting the fashion industry as we know it.

Photo: Sam Allison

Originally published in the May 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia

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