LAU celebrates inauguration of fashion degree studios
Students and faculty of the Lebanese American University (LAU) new fashion design degree program celebrated the inauguration of their new studios with President Joseph G. Jabbra, internationally acclaimed fashion designer Elie Saab and Paul Yuille of the London College of Fashion (LCF).
A diverse selection of academics, intellectuals, public figures and media were also present at last night’s reception, held at the design studios that occupy the first two floors of LAU’s new Gezairi building.
The premises comprise offices and three large open-plan workspaces – one for design, another for pattern cutting and a third for construction, equipped with the latest technologically advanced industry-standard equipment. “We have top-of-the-line machinery, for sewing, button-holing, embroidery, digital textile printing, and more,” states Assistant Professor Jason Steel proudly.
Steel led the development of the curriculum and oversees the program while also teaching the 19 students currently in their first post-foundation year. “They are exceptionally talented and hard-working,” says Steel of his students, whose sketches were sprawled all around the studios for guests to admire.
Dr. YasmineTaan, chair of the Department of Design, welcomed the evening’s guests and introduced the new fashion degree, launched by LAU in collaboration with Elie Saab and LCF in September 2013.
“Our goal is to prepare young talents to enter the competitive marketplace, with a focus on inventiveness,” said Taan, adding that the ultimate goal was to draw attention to the fashion industry, which “has the ability to promote economic growth, create jobs and boost exports.”
Equally proud of LAU’s achievement was Jabbra who expressed his delight at the attendance of Saab, Yuille and members of “the Lebanese community who came as supporters and participants in our celebration of these new studios.”
Jabbra reiterated the university’s commitment to the program that, he said, had become “the talk of the town, the region and even Europe. It is a dream come true that has been led by a passion to serve the community and its youth, not only in our nation, but the region as a whole.”
Internationally renowned designer and honorary chairman of the program Elie Saab also spoke of a dream fulfilled. “When I welcomed our first cohort of students, and sat and discussed with them, I knew the dream was becoming a reality,” he said, referring to a recent group visit by the program’s 19 sophomore students to the ELIE SAAB headquarters in down town Beirut.
“The students reminded me of my beginnings, and I saw in each and every one of them the enthusiasm of a young Elie Saab. With the inauguration of the LAU fashion studios, our dream now has an address, a home for our students, and we are with them every step of the way.”
Next up to the proverbial podium was Yuille who spoke about the LCF’s approach to fashion as one that “redefines it as a discipline used to drive change, seeing fashion as academic, ethical, political, social and art.”
The collaborative fashion degree program, he explained, provides “an education in not only design, but the business plans and economics that allow those designs to be manufactured.” Echoing Taan’s message, Yuille said he hoped that by running these courses with LAU “we at LCF can provide a base from which students can start new labels, new businesses, and new partnerships.”
At least two of the students can, at the end of their second and third years, look forward to an internship at the ELIE SAAB studios while one distinguished student will be invited to Paris Fashion Week as Saab’s personal guest.
The combination of prestige and academic excellence brought together by this unique collaborative program continues to attract budding designers, with 25 new recruits now working through their foundation year before enjoying all the facilities the LAU fashion studios have to offer.