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My Fashion Life – Ziad Ghanem



It was fashion that fuelled Ziad’s imagination when all else around him looked rather bleak. Growing up during the civil war in Lebanon, Ziad would often escape by taking a trip out of reality and drawing scenes from far-flung places, such as Paris, on his bedroom window.


“I made my life a living cartoon set and my Mum a living Barbie. Even when there was bombing overhead and we were holed up in the shelter Mum would continue to curl her hair and perfectly draw-on her eye-liner. Dressing-up helped her get through it and my imagination helped me,” says Ziad.


Through-out the 80’s the war grew more terrifying with each day and the Ghanem’s had no choice but to relocate to another town. “It was really horrific, we lost everything, our house got destroyed and my parents went downhill – both socially and financially,” Ziad remembers. “That was the hardest time of my life and I really felt the need to get away.”


{mosimage}By his late-teens Ziad knew fashion was the subject he wanted to study. Trouble was – there were no fashion schools in Lebanon and studying abroad would cost a serious amount of money. Trying an alternative angle Ziad landed a job as an illustrator at a Lebanese fashion house but as the war persisted he took what money he had and left once and for all.


He got his regular fix of British street fashion via the pages of ID and The Face. Ever since he could remember Ziad had always been intrigued about the UK: Vivienne Westwood, Helen Storey, Malcolm McLaren, The Queen, the history, the lovely cup of tea, the British sense of humour, he was even attracted to the rainy weather.{mosimage}


Landing in Paris by the late 1980’s an exhausting job search took him to Dubai. This new job introduced him to the world of beaded textiles, embellishments and tailoring. “I developed really good skills in beading and embroidery and I loved it when some of the clients asked me to customize their pieces. One client gave me a Christian Lacroix couture dress to customize – it took all my courage just to cut one sleeve.”


{mosimage}Having put in his hours in Dubai Ziad decided it was time to make his fashion name in Britain. “London was the lover I had always searched for,” says Ziad. But it wasn’t all plain sailing on the job front: “Living during the war was easier than breaking into fashion,” he jests. He did his fair share of domestic work before bagging a position as a sales assistant at Harvey Nichols. His lunch breaks would be spent checking out the very latest designs and making a mental note of how they were put together. {mosimage}


It wasn’t long before Ziad decided to go it alone and set up his own label. “I wanted my designs and ideas to provide an escape from reality, especially after a long working week,” says Ziad. “I planned to create luxurious pieces with accessible fabrics such as cotton and fleece.”   But he was in for yet another shock – when he discovered how much money he would need to put his first collection together. Depressed by the prospect of not fulfilling his fashion ambition Ziad felt like he was sinking.


{mosimage}“That was until one Christmas I saw Madonna singing live on the telly, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was all about determination and making your mark. As it turns out Madonna has been one of my biggest inspirations.” {mosimage}


He started out small, customizing clothes and working on styling sessions. London boutiques Kokon Tozai and Pineal Eye gained interest and soon stocked some of his pieces. Other shops followed suit and the Ziad Ghanem label was set in motion.



{mosimage}Ziad still lives and works in London despite the fact that his biggest followers are abroad. His work is best described as sophisticated streetwear with an edge. For this spring/summer season Mr. Ghanem takes his collection to another level by combining intricate pattern cutting skills with wearable sportswear shapes. Entitled ‘An Ideal Husband’ inspiration draws from a range of unexpected sources; from National Socialism to perfection and idealism. 3D paneled sections, sculptural shapes, handprints and patchwork effects all feature in a palette of muted shades. There are fitted cotton dresses, frill skirts, track tops, tees and sweats, along with stuff for the boys, bags and customised accessories.


During the past year Ziad has also worked on a variety of international collaborations and his latest project is set to get him known on the British high street. Due out later this year – ‘Ziad Ghanem for Top Man’ will feature casual shapes covered in plenty of his witty signature prints. Top Man is one of central London’s main attractions, I wanted to translate my love for the city by producing a collection that projects my vision of Britain,” comments Ziad.


Ziad Ghanem for Top Man 


‘Ziad Ghanem for Top Man’ is due to launch later in the year.



To check out Ziad’s collections and more visit www.ziadghanem.com



By JoJo Iles


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