Lebanese Designer Salim Azzam’s Ode to an Old World

by Lisa Jerejian

Salim Azzam is much more than a fashion designer; he is a storyteller who intricately weaves the stories of his homeland with passion and precision into each and every piece he creates. Here, he tells us about the women behind his renowned brand and his latest collection, which pays tribute to the old world.

You are known in the world of fashion for your decorative embroidery. Why have you remained loyal to this discipline rather than following more popular trends?

Embroidery plays a major role in the identity of Shouf, the mountainous and green region of Lebanon where I am from. It is a tool that people have used for centuries to communicate. The art of embroidery is part of who we are, and I wanted to keep this craft alive, to preserve this rich heritage and provide the women of the Shouf region with a platform to continue expressing themselves.

How challenging has it been to continue your work given the ongoing crises in Lebanon?

It’s been extremely difficult to work in Lebanon with the challenges, but there is hope. It is always possible to find ways to make things work; you have to make sacrifices, even creatively, to minimize risk and keep the brand going.

What can you tell us about your new collection and honoring the old world?

The new collection is a celebration of the old world. It examines how embroidery was used originally. I revisited historical motifs and used them in different ways to create different shapes inspired by that world. I also experimented with new crafts and techniques, like smocking, and integrated them.

What is the greatest career lesson that you have learned?

It’s so difficult to move forward in life if you don’t appreciate what you already have. Always be grounded and use what you have.

What is your motto?

Through the power of goodwill, you can reach the highest heights.

If you could collaborate with any designer or creative, who would you pick and why?

Joining forces with Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino would be amazing. I adore the aesthetic and the artistry of the gowns made by this iconic fashion house. I know Pierpaolo personally, so it would be a dream come true to work with him.

Do you have any news or exciting plans to share with us?

Beautiful things keep coming our way. We are launching an e-commerce site soon, which will allow people all over the world to hear our stories.

What is your ultimate wish for Lebanon?

I wish that Lebanon could be the place I always wanted it to be, the place I always imagined it to be and the place I illustrate in my collections. I wish for peace, positivity and for all the obstacles to disappear.



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