« Caravan Beirut » Lebanon shines in Washington D.C.

Friendship is beautiful, it allows original and innovative ideas to be expressed freely. Still many qualities are needed to transform late night conversations & dreams into reality.

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That’s how « Caravan Beirut » was born: from the gathering of Nour Khoury Jallad and Mariana Wehbe two great friends and acclaimed Fashion & Communication professionals that wished to share with the world a different image of their beloved country, Lebanon. It is naturally that the duo opted for Georgetown, Washington D.C. Capital of the World, to install their 1,200 m2 pop-up store in Georgetown Park area, the new hip quarters of D.C.

Indeed, under the dynamic and enlightened leadership of the Mayor of D.C. Muriel Bowser, Washington is growing rapidly today as a fresh and trendy platform attracting Art, Culture and Fashion lovers worldwide.

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The scope of « Caravan Beirut » is such that the two organizers worked night and day flipping across their thick address books to organize logistics, venue design & booths (Architect Rabih Geha) , freight transport DHL, media contacts … while spreading their good vibes and constant encouragements.

“Caravan Beirut” took the challenge and opened beautifully on Friday, April 8th, 2016 in a festive and sophisticated atmosphere attracting more than 800 people who came to discover a variety of creations Made in Lebanon: Ready-to-wear, Jewelry, Accessories, Furniture, Photographs and Paintings..

Featuring brands such as André Marcha, Bokja, Karoline Lang, Maison Tarazi, Milia M, Jessica K, Little Bluffers, Sarah’s bag, Vivianne Debbas, Selim Mouzannar Rania Farsoun, Nada Le Cavelier, Nalbandian…

Photographers such Patrick Baz, Roger Moukarzel and Emile Issa. The exceptional painter Michel Karsouny, Hania Rayess the neon artist and many other innovators such as Lumalu Lipstick.

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Caravan Beirut Washington D.C. photo Kamsyn.com
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Opening night Caravan Beirut Washington D.C. photo Kamsyn.com

Aromas of Thyme and Sumac infused the air as delicious Lebanese cuisine was prepared live by three women Chefs from the Kamal Mouzawak team (a world reference in authentic Lebanese cuisine), who were flown-in specially from Lebanon. “Caravan Beirut”  received the visit of several prestigious guests with Lebanese roots: the former leader of Protocol Salwa Roosevelt (born Choucair), Reema Al Sabbah famous philanthropist and wife of the Ambassador of Kuwait in Washington Sheikh Salem al-Sabah Betty Sams, valuable support of the activities of the Smithsonian Institution, Gaby Daher renown Art Collector and Connoisseur.

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Caravan Beirut opening Night in Washington D.C.     Photo Kamsyn

As well as eminent journalists established locally or visiting specially to cover the event: Carla Henoud and Irene Moussalli from l’Orient-Le Jour, and Corine Farhat from Al-Hurra TV.

Today, the success of “Caravan Beirut” is such that it is invited to visit in its next edition several cities of the American continent and even the world.

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Mariana Wehbe & Nour Khoury Jallad   Founders of « Caravan Beirut »   Portrait Emile Issa

Mariana Wehbe and Nour Jallad Khoury (co-founder with Rudy Seikaly of the online designer platform Bucolik) have therefore succeeded to reunite local and international prestigious actors who provided crucial support for this initiative : The American-Lebanese Chamber of Commerce, the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism. Skoun, a very active association in the prevention of drug addiction and support institution also received a percentage of sales made by each artist.

Nour Jallad Khoury and Mariana Wehbe Founders of « Caravan Beirut »

The initiative you imagined has now materialized thanks to your hard work during a few short months and is now an outstanding success! The designers and the public are delighted.
Following the triumphant welcome that was reserved to you at the residence of the Lebanese Embassy in Washington yesterday by the Chargé d’Affaires Carla Jazzar in the presence of the Mayor of Washington DC Muriel Bowser, both great supporters of « Caravan Beirut », how do you feel today? Life is Beautiful ?

Absolutely! (cheers) We now realize the magnitude of the challenges we went through. Today, we are at the heart of the capital of the most powerful nation in the world, having transported all kinds of products and creations all the way from Lebanon while managing to reunite exceptional talents and motivate them to get together.
This opens a new world of possibilities, of sharing hope and peace. With the dream that  this initiative will open the way for American designers to come to Beirut.

The unique welcome that was reserved for us here in Washington D.C. is heartwarming and we thank all those who believed in us and supported us.
Despite the many challenging news coming from Lebanon, we are pleased to have been able to speak of Lebanon through Creativity, Culture, Civilization and Young Talents.

By reuniting world-famous artists and young talents what is the message you would like to send ?

Our aim was also to create bridges and programs of « mentoring ». Trough this mix a multitude of new projects can emerge. However we also wanted to preserve some cohesion and continuity between all the brands and the message they convey.

Many designers are asking to join the platform of « Caravan Beirut », will they have that opportunity in the future?

Absolutely, we are preparing other editions in Europe, and various US cities. This will be an opportunity to expand the panel and the space needed to accommodate them. It’s also an opportunity to work bilaterally welcoming American designers in Lebanon.

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« Beirut Neon » Splash!    Photo  Emile Issa  Caravan Beirut D.C.

Many Lebanese women today say they are inspired to follow your example of active women..

This is also the message we would like to share: today it is possible to have a family, children, and also to get involved professionally. Everything is about balance. It is difficult to succeed in environments dominated by men but we managed thanks to the support of all those around us, men and women who believed in us: husbands, friends, families, artists ..
We thank them from the deepest of our hearts, this victory is also yours !

Sumptuous reception & Dinner at the beautiful residence of the Lebanese Embassy in Washington DC followed by Exclusive interview with 8 Lebanese Designers of Caravan Beirut.

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Sumptuous reception & Dinner at the Lebanese Embassy Residence in D.C: Mariana Wehbe, Muriel Bowser Mayor of Washington D.C., Carla Jazzar Chargée d’Affaires at the Lebanese Embassy in Washington D.C, Rudy Seikaly & Nour Khoury Jallad  Photo Kamsyn

Carla Jazzar the elegant and very active, Chargée d’Affaires of the Lebanese Embassy in Washington, gave a dinner at the residence in honor of Caravan Beirut:

« For Caravan Beirut, the aim was to highlight Lebanese designers in the United States and to provide a platform that allows them to showcase their creations to a new audience. Building a new design road between Lebanon and the United States.  »

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Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington D.C.

The mayor of Washington Muriel Bowser, a dynamic woman with a unique aura warmly welcomed the presence of Lebanese designers: « It is a privilege for me to participate in such an event of cultural exchange. Proving all the benefits of diversity, including the meeting of fashion and politics, which is the label of the federal capital.  » Muriel Bowser also praised the courage of Caravan Beirut founders who put their ideas and creativity into action as well as for having « made their first stop in Washington and not in New York or LA as it could’ve been expected. Contributing to the current trend where Washington is not only the decision making capital, but also a vibrant fashion city. »

Sources Kamsyn &  l’Orient Le Jour (Irene Moussalli)

Kamsyn met in Washington DC with 8 Lebanese Designers and Artists featured in Caravan Beirut to learn a little more about their experience, creations and future plans. Design meets Silk on the Roads of the USA, Exlcusive Report:

I-Michel Karsouny Artist Painter: New York – Beirut  

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Michel Karsouny adding his final touch prior to opening of Caravan Beirut in D.C  photo Kamsyn

You are a Lebanese Artist who also sees himself as a Citizen of the World.
Is it important for you to be present today in DC as part of « Caravan Beirut »? If so, how is that ?

Absolutely, « Caravan Beirut » is a new and unique initiative that allows the world to discover what Lebanon has best to offer despite the difficult times through which we are passing.
We are a rich & ancient civilization of a thousands of years old. We have so many interesting strata that makes us who we are:  cultural, philosophical, artistic, so for us to showcase our work and spread our positive message with all lovers of the arts and culture in the US is a beautiful opportunity.

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What message are you sharing today through your paintings?

This is my personal experience, a study of multiple identities and a back and forth incessant movement between Lebanon and New York where I’m now based.
This flux is like that of the tides, they leave strong traces in the inland seas of our spirits.
These flows also represent exchange, sharing, but also unquenched quests and wander.
In a word, it’s a direct reflection of my interpretation of the worlds I observe.

http://www.karsouny.com    Insta: @karsouny

II-Maison Tarazi:

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Camille Tarazi in Washington D.C. Caravan Beirut  photo Kamsyn

Internationally famous since 1862 for its Ottoman & Beirut inspired creations as well as for the restoration of the wood panels of several palaces (Sursock), Maison Tarazi is represented in Washington DC by Camille Tarazi.
Camille is here to showcase the modern look of the new line that was launched recently exploring the beauty of craftsmanship of tradition fused with the minimalistic light designs of today.

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Maison Tarazi in Caravan Beirut D.C  photo Kamsyn

How is it important to be present here today in the collective « Caravan Beirut « ?

It’s a great pleasure to be here in DC surrounded by famous designers holding high the name of Lebanon in the world. I am also very pleased to see the talent of young people who are also one of the goals of this beautiful adventure.
It touches me to see the warm Lebanese welcome established in DC who visit us and enjoy our work with their American friends.

Your traditional and classic line is now enriched with a new design approach that merges delicately and lightness the best of both worlds, is the « moucharabieh » an example?

We wanted to introduce to the American market a fresh look inspired by our classics.
Therefore the curiosity and enthusiasm of Americans for our creations exhibited here today make me very happy, because it is also an opportunity to meet some great people from different cultural backroads and share memorable moments. It’s also a big source of mutual inspiration.

http://www.maisontarazi.com     Insta @maisontarazi

III-Senteurs d’Orient:

Sarah Akkari: CEO

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Sarah Akkari CEO of Senteurs d’Orient brings to D.C. the tradition of Oriental Baths.
So what is it that inspired you to create Senteurs d’Orient (Scents from the East) ?

My mother who founded the company grew in Japan while keeping her Syrian roots. The bathing tradition is firmly rooted in both cultures.
So this is what inspired her to create soaps with essential oils handmade by craftsmen in Lebanon.

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Your fragrances are created in Grasse the legendary capital of Perfume and are an open invitation to connoisseurs and neophytes who are curious to take a trip to the scents of the East..

Absolutely, the Lebanese Orange blossom, Amber, Arabian Jasmine, Tuberose and the Damas Rose are a real discovery for the senses.

You are now present in New York and developing your presence in the US, why is it important for you to be in Washington DC today as part of Caravan Beirut?

For us it is mainly to introduce Lebanon to the world and promote a Mediterranean lifestyle more relaxed and oriented towards wellbeing.
Traditional soap was born in this region of the world including the olive oil too, which is why we wanted to keep the production in Lebanon, where we work with so many women artisans to support their active role in society.
So « Caravan Beirut » is a great initiative and a creative collective that carries universal values that have an international echo.

http://www.senteursdorient.com   Insta @senteursdorient

IV-Selim Mouzannar:

Jewelry Designer, Famous worldwide for his rich creations and his fine line combining Ottoman & Beiruti tradtion with modern sophistication.
Selim Mouzannar is a unique artist who found in the timeless minerals and gems the very essence of eternal Beauty.

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Marie el Amm, Caravan Beirut, Washington DC:

Selim Mouzannar wanted to be present to support young Lebanese designers in this incredible adventure and share with the world and the American fashionistas his passion for jewelry and the Orient.
We are already represented in Dallas and New York and will be in Las Vegas in May 2016 but to be present in Washington DC at the invitation of Nour and Mariana was a pleasure and a great opportunity to represent our country Lebanon!

What message would you like to convey to young talents in Lebanon that are inspired by the creations of Selim Mouzannar and by his journey as a successful Jewelry designer ?

It is to have a dream and do all the necessary to achieve it. Of course risk-taking is sometimes tough but hard-word combined with creativity often lead to success.
Today we have a lot of talent in Lebanon and the world offers opportunities that didn’t exist a decade ago, this is why I encourage them to join the adventure !

www.selimmouzannar.com   Insta: @selimmouzannar

V-Hania Rayess:

Featuring colorful neon lights with typical Lebanese words, Hania electrified D.C. with her smile and especially with the futuristic look of her installations.
Express exchange of words with the artist, as fast as the positive current that emanates from her universe.

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Caravan Beirut is?

Open horizons.

Your message to DC?

We Lebanese are creative, resilient and love beautiful adventures and encounters..

Your future ?

Travel, expansion and discovery ..

What inspires you?

People, words we say and don’t say, the colors of my mood ..

In short, Design is ?

Freedom !

http://haniarayess.com     Insta @haniaaaaaaa

Hania Rayess

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Michel Karsouny and Art Collector/ Connoisseur Gaby Daher with Hania Rayess

 

Rudy Saikaly and Nour Khoury Jallad Caravan Beirut April 2016 Washington DC Emile Issa
Rudy Seikaly & Nour Khoury Jallad founders of Bucolik in the Bokja Stand Caravan Beirut D.C.    Photo Kamsyn

 

VI-Andre Marcha:

Famous for the glamour of his pieces and timeless sophistication that emerges from them, Andre Marcha has the touch of a sculptor who delicately reveals all the beauties hidden in the heart of the stone.
He is represented in Washington D.C. by Stephanie Marcha  the charming Ambassador echoing his universe.

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Stephanie Marcha: Caravan Beirut D.C.

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Elegance, refinement and dolce vita are the attributes of the creations of André Marcha who loves to celebrate the modern and dynamic woman. 

There are many Lebanese Artists exhibited today as part of « Caravan Beirut »: Painters, Photographers, Designers…  How does it feel to be here today?

This is the first exhibition of several young Lebanese talents in the US tonight, it’s a pleasure and an honor to be with them and represent Lebanon.
It is also an opportunity to celebrate art and creativity.
Washington DC is now an essential step for those who wish to enter the American market. So it was very important for us to be here.
I would like to thank the organizers Nour Khoury Jallad & Mariana Wehbe for their outstanding work.

               

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Many of your creations are presented here tonight, which are the ones that you enjoy the most?
The collection of « Turquoises », the baroque pearls we work while preserving them, as well as brute stones.

www.andremarcha.com       Insta: @andremarcha

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« Beirut Neon » Lava Dance  Photo Emile Issa « Caravan Beirut » D.C.

 

VII-Lumalu Lipstick:

Natural  & organic lipstick, imagined in Lebanon and produced in the USA by Louma Rabah a renown Lebanese artist and painter.
« Lumalu » Innovates to the extent that the Lipstick provides natural resistance all day-long, optimal hydration and a beautiful variety of fresh and vivid colors.

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Lumalu  in D.C. Caravan Beirut    Photo Kamsyn

 

Within the « Caravan Beirut » Story, to what type of woman is Lumalu destined ?

The Lebanese woman is known for her beauty and the attention she gives to her well-being.
« Lumalu » addresses elegant and fresh women in the world who care about the nature of the products they use. This is why we developed an organic range that encourages them to highlight their own natural beauty. Everything is then a question of balance.
« Caravan Beirut’s »success encouraged me to accelerate the preparation of the range of natural and organic cosmetics we were planning. It’s a dream come true!

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Lumalu in D.C.  Caravan Beirut      Photo Kamsyn

 

http://www.lumalu.us      Insta: @lumalu.usa

 

 Special Mention for the awesome Kenny from  KH Art Framing    http://www.khartframing.com who brilliantly took care of all Large Photo Prints, Mounting & Framing + Signage of the Expo.

 

Kamsyn, April 2016

Insta:      @kamsynmag

Twitter:  @kamsynmag