“People I know, who used to be able to afford to go out on a daily basis [in Lebanon], are now unemployed. They don’t leave their houses because they don’t have enough money to put gas in their tanks.”
– Roni Helou, Ready to Wear Designer, Beirut
8 months have passed since the tragic blast that shook the very heart of Beirut, and yet although Lebanon is no longer front page news, Lebanon is facing some of the most difficult times in the country’s history. Rohma Theunissen caught up with Roni Helou, the Lebanese designer who spearheaded the United For Lebanese Creatives crowdfunding initiative in August 2020, to talk about the extent of Lebanon’s triple crisis, how it is impacting the people who live there on a daily basis and why talking about Lebanon is essential.
About Roni Helou
Born in Lebanon in 1992, Roni Helou is a conscious ready-to-wear designer based in Beirut. In 2016 upon his graduation from Creative Space Beirut, progressive fashion school that offers free design education, Roni showcased his collections at Fashion Forward Dubai for two seasons under the patronage of Rabih Kayrouz and the Starch Foundation. In 2017 Roni was awarded the Boghossian Foundation Fashion Prize, offering him a residency at Villa Empain in Brussels. His previous works were displayed at Les Nouveaux Créateurs in Paris as part of Exposition Mode émergente du monde arabe, co-curated by Institut du Monde Arabe. More recently, Roni was named RTW winner of the first Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) edition launched in 2019. Furthermore, the brand’s SS20 and RH’20/21 collections were exhibited respectively at Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks. Sustainability, free education, human and animal rights are at the heart of the RONI HELOU brand.
Roni works to uphold these values in everything he does, from sampling to production and everything in between. The Roni Helou brand has been featured in prominent international publications, such as The New York Times, Vogue US, British Vogue, Vogue Arabia, Vogue Italia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Elle India, WWD, The Business of Fashion, Wallpaper, DAZE, i-D and HUNGER TV.