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Lebanese fashion designer takes home Woolmark prize

July 6, 2014

BEIRUT: The funky, conceptual women's wear by Lebanese designer Rayya Morcos will compete this year among finalists in the prestigious International Woolmark Prize.

Morcos, a young Beirut designer known for her deconstructed and architectural women's wear, was honored Friday at the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai as one of the regional finalists and scored nearly $47,000 in prize winnings to grow her young brand, Bird on a Wire.

The award started 60 years ago, awarding two then-obscure European designers Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.

Morcos' Bird on a Wire was awarded the prize alongside fellow Woolmark finalists Emperor 1688, a Dubai-based men's wear brand focused on tailored suits and semi-formal attire. The two brands will go onto the finals where a win would mean another $93,000 in sponsorship and contracts to stock in a dozen of the world's biggest fashion retailers.

"The prospect of going to Beijing in March for the final is unbelievable. I am so honored to be a part of this amazing project," Morcos said after receiving the award.

Morcos founded her own fashion label Bird on a Wire in 2009 and released her first women's wear collection Heterotropies in 2012, featuring a moldable metal technology. Before that Morcos graduated from Esmod Beirut and worked in Maison Rabih Kayrouz as head of design from 2006-11.

Morcos is also among a growing cohort of young Lebanese designers creating conceptual ready-to-wear clothing in a market where local, avant-garde creations are a difficult sell. Despite this, Morcos has had some local success finding local retailers like IF boutique.

This year's judging panel for the India and Middle East region included Imran Amed, editor of the Business of Fashion; Anthony Kendal, global communications director for; Peter Ackroyd from the Woolmark Company; Priyanka Khanna, senior fashion features editor from Vogue India and Rahul Mishra, the first Indian designer to win the IWP in 2013.

Vogue Editor Khanna said the prize was awarded for Marcos' commitment to her concept and her unique ideology of deconstructed fashion, according to Woolmark's post-ceremony news statement.

During the regional round, Morcos was up against fellow Lebanese women's wear designer Lara Khoury, who was also a semifinalist the year before. Both Morcos and Khoury got their initial boost as part of Rabih Kayrouz' designer incubator The Starch Foundation.

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Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)

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