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She may be young but Beiruti fashion designer and illustrator Timi Hayek has already made name for herself and figured out how to make timeless pieces. She draws inspiration from dance, an art form she has an affinity for, as much as Lebanon’s pristine areas. A book about the Adonis valley on the side of her workbench upstairs from her boutique in Monot bears witness to this.
A graduate of the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s in London, Hayek has gained professional experience by working for Marc Jacobs in Louis Vuitton and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in Paris. Other prestigious placements include Alexander McQueen and Mary Katrantzou in London. In 2010 she won the Liberty Art Fabrics Award, where her winning print design was sold at the renowned British department store, Liberty & Co and in 2014 she was part of Fashion Forward in Dubai, an initiative by the Starch Foundation that showcases talented, emerging designers.
Instead of following the more conventional career choice of joining a fashion house, Hayek took the plunge and opened her own boutique in Beirut in April this year. Her trademark prêt-à-porter items, notably her Viento y Tierra (wind and earth) SS15 Collection tend to be classy, eye-catching, ‘flowy’ and versatile: they can easily be dressed up and worn for special events or add a special touch on just any day. Among the fabric she likes working with most are silk, linen, and tulle, tops and dresses tend to be kept in hues of blue, grey, ivory, cream and gentle rose colours.
“The clothes I make are meant to make you feel good,” Hayek underlines. “I’ve always been attracted to dance, I like its raw, honest energy. I like to dance, to move and so what I make should move with you.”
Hayek’s creations would no doubt thrill Isadora Duncan and stand out for their impeccable craftsmanship. This becomes evident in the pleats, a finicky, laborious undertaking, she uses a lot. “I’m interested in texture,” the designer explains, “pleats are a third dimension, you can play with it and it makes the fabric flow, further facilitates movement.” To source her fabric, Hayek either heads to the established textile stores in Ashrafieh, or to Turkey and Italy, where the quality is “amazing”.
Her clients are friends and family friends, people who noticed her through her Starch Foundation range, patrons of Al Falamanki across the way as well as walk-in customers. While Hayek who grew up in Canada was clear about wanting to stand on her own and to be based in Beirut, she has had to learn the art of running her boutique by trial and error – business acumen was not taught at Central Saint Martins at the times she studied there. “I’ve been learning to acquire a business mind and to testing and experimenting,” she sums up the first months. She’s relied on advise from her boyfriend and parents. She was able to set up her boutique in Monot due to her great-grandmother, a successful businesswoman in West Africa, having built the residential block her boutique is based in back in the 1940s.
Having thus far preferred to make summery clothes, Hayek is currently busy designing her first autumn range, which includes elegant dresses in rich fabrics in dusty dark blue, salmon, beige colours.
While she feeds off Beirut’s raw energy, the designer needs to step out, spend time in nature. She also does yoga twice a week, in order to maintain her balance and feed her creative energies.
Among her favourite things in Beirut are Achrafieh on a Sunday, when it is peaceful and quiet and hanging out at a good book store. “Librairie Antoine at Beirut Souks is the best as it has couches and a café.”