From the biggest fashion houses in the world to his eponymous brand, Tony Ward has carved out a successful career over the past few decades. We get chatting to Lebanon’s fashion pioneer about his journey.
Your father was a skilled couturier. Did you know from a young age that you wanted to follow in his footsteps?
In fact, I only thought of following in my father’s footsteps at the age of 17; it didn’t occur to me at a younger age.
In your early career, you worked alongside some of the most famous names in the industry, including Karl Lagerfeld and Gianfranco Ferré. What were the greatest lessons you learned?
Each experience was a great one for me, even though I didn’t have too many responsibilities. I was lucky enough to observe how they worked, their skills and push my imagination while working as a team. Each designer was different and, of course, they each had their own touch in designing and creating. Gianfranco Ferré was fantastic in ‘flou’ — feminine styling of light, floaty, ethereal fabrics. Claude Montana was a great jacket designer, while Karl Lagerfeld fascinated me in the way he used to mixed lace with other materials.
You successfully turned your family’s couture house into an international brand. Did you feel pressure when you took over?
Yes, I felt the pressure and, honestly, I still do. Every step I take for my company is like I’m stepping on a theater stage in front of a massive audience. The more exposure we have, the more responsibility I feel towards my employees and clients.
What has been your greatest career highlight and the biggest challenge?
My greatest career highlight was launching the couture collection during Alta Moda in Rome. The biggest challenge was opening our boutique in Russia in 2006.
How has your Lebanese and Italian backgrounds influenced your work?
Having two nationalities and building my life between Europe and Lebanon has allowed me to embrace different cultures. I am constantly traveling the world, which helps to clears my mind and broaden my creative vision.
Ward Couture is approaching its 70th anniversary. What do you hope to achieve over the coming years?
Today, survival is all I wish for. These are hard times, and we are facing a huge economic crisis. My goal is to get back on our feet and take this a lesson to create a better world.
When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your time?
Spending quality time with my family is the most important thing to me. I also love reading, riding my bike in the mountains, going to the beach and playing basketball.
What is the one thing you miss most about Lebanon when you are away?
I miss my garden, my family, my office, the bike rides… Everything about this country seems nostalgic when I’m not here.