Interview by Ghina Maalouf
Excuse us Pitbull while we pun your stage pseudo to describe this unpredictable Lebanese designer. Pragmatic, sharp and devoted Charbel Feghaly, was well on his way to corporate success in THE top FMCG multinational, until he finally mustered the courage to own his longtime vocation of being a fashion designer.
Drenched in influences such as Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent and Rosalia Meria, he joined ESMOD’s program.
For his final year project, he had the vision to dabble in 3D printing and ended up creating the first 3D printed top while being highly inspired by contemporary artist Emanuela Fioreli .
Loyal to his crisp white shirts and contrary to the mainstream trend of undertaking a post-graduating career in sequin studded Couture wear or copy/paste ready to wear, this designer thought outside the box and went into sartorial menswear instead.
He offers a highly wearable, impeccably cut shirts and tailored suits collection at ForeandAft boutique, nestled in Mar Michael, Beirut.
So what exactly do you do at ForeandAft and how did you get the gig?
I first stumbled by pure chance into Giuliano-the founder- over a year ago, and realized the full potential of his shop and its range of products. So I was happy to get on board and become the creative director for the line we design and produce. I also do the buying for the different labels we carry from Milan. Business wise, I mainly handle the marketing strategy and manage its implementation in both our Beirut and Berlin shops.
We don’t see a lot of Middle-Eastern designers heading towards menswear design (except for Men Just Wanna Have fun and Lara Khoury in Lebanon, Toby in KSA then a few other gender fluid labels sprouted lately), why do you think this field is still unexplored in this region?
At ForeandAft I have the privilege to access Italian factories for all production purposes whereas local designers here face production challenges and take it as a liability. Considering the regional market, our craftsmanship is rather geared towards couture. Unfortunately, you cannot find the proper and affordable resources to produce ready to wear in Lebanon or any where else in the region. I think what works at ForeandAft is that we hit the right mix of wearable modern designs with quality and value for your money.
How is designing for men any different from designing for women?
I believe that the design process is the same be it for men, women or even furniture. What might be more important in menswear is the right fit and the clean finishing. Womenswear can get away with some imperfections thanks to overshadowing of some embellishments.
For your final year graduation project at ESMOD you had the cutting edge vision to design a top using 3D printing techniques, what was the thought process behind it and how did it come about?
When I first heard of the 3D printing it blew my mind away and I was so curious to know how it works and further explore it. I had only seen few experiments outside the industrial scope. I also happen to know a director back from P&G days, who was venturing in this industry. It was enough of a trigger for me to give it a try.
After finalizing the design in Beirut I worked with a team of Indian engineers to execute it. It was a fun to create a fashion product in a revolutionnary process and a whole new perspective.
How would you describe the fashion scene in Lebanon & the Middle East?
Very couture oriented, the more the merrier. We definitely have established some international designers as well as very promising ones. However, there is an ongoing tendency self-proclaiming designers. I think one needs a whole set of different skills to make the jump from tailor to designer to entrepreneur. It is very rare to find one that combines all three successfully.
What do you think it lacks?
What do you love most about Design?
The fabric itself, my teacher in ESMOD used to tell us let the fabric speaks…
A well-fitted garment… always!
Who would you pick that would best represent your label?
Giuliano Sparacino, ForeandAft’ s founder.
What advice would you give for people who would like/love to become fashion designers but are still lost or scared to make the leap?
There is more to fashion design than just pure design. More than half of a designer’s success is the way his atelier is run. There is more to the fashion industry than what we see on runaways, one needs to know that they need to get their hands dirty and work really hard to succeed.
Follow: Instagram: @charbelfeg
Beirut, Mar Mikhael +961 70346758
Berline, Bikini Mall, +4916095447667