The Azzi & Osta Couture Fall 2020 collection was well into the works when the world went into lockdown, forcing the Beirut couture house to shift dates and learn “new ways” to announce its collection. “We told ourselves that the silver living would be shooting it in our new location, which we had just moved into and were renovating,” the duo recalls. However, on August 4th, the Beirut blast destroyed the atelier, injured the team, and sent the collection unceremoniously into the trees of the yard.
“The day that we were picking ourselves up from the ruins, we decided to temporarily set up the atelier at George’s home. Our machines and equipment were damaged,” recalls Osta. Hope re-appeared when the designers quickly learned that they were not alone. “The amount of worldwide support we received from our suppliers whom we consider as partners helped put things together,” they share. “Suppliers offered us replacement free of charge or discounted. A purple hat you see in the shoot was customized for us by a New York designer Genevieve Foddy. When she saw the explosion, she offered a free replacement and with lots of love. The same was the case with lots of our local suppliers. Many saw how we were repeating orders already made and they didn’t charge us for the repeats.”
With electricians and carpenters working overnight, a temporary atelier working at partial capacity was running within ten days. Some looks were redone, some were canceled, and some were shot with the remnants of the explosion. “You cannot see all this come to life and not have the willingness and motivation to present everything that you love and with so much passion,” they declare. “The demand is there; we are rebuilding and clients shouldn’t worry about their orders. We adapted our calendars, our means of transportation is the same, and we are setting out a calendar of trunk shows.” The resulting collection, featured here, invites a journey to Amsterdam and its labyrinth of canals. The escape begins at the tulip with its vivid colors, frills, and extends to a palette of colorful fields, in an explosive celebration of life and a bright future that surely awaits.