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Fashionism
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Feb / Mar 2018
Top Notch

WRITER: Stephanie d’Arc Taylor

Diamondogs is a Made in Lebanon label aiming to redefine luxury with uncompromising quality and the kind of exclusivity you won’t find in any mall. 

What we wear to cover our nakedness is an intimate reflection of who we really are. Where we shop and the clothes we select are telling of our values, our taste and even the person we aspire to be. But what if someone else has made that exact same choice you thought was so special? 

Let’s face it, no one wants to walk into a party wearing the same outfit as someone else. It’s awkward and, if truth be told, it’s a problem you can’t simply throw money at. That’s because, in today’s world of mass production and mass propagation, a high price tag does not in any way afford rarity. As a result, what people covet more than anything is individualism and authenticity. To put it bluntly, in 2018, having an ‘It Bag’ doesn’t make you special – it makes you a copycat.

 

 

On a rainy Friday morning in January, we’ve come to meet Pascale Habis in her meticulous and palatial Gemmayze home, which also serves as her atelier and office, and she’s in the midst of turning a pair of woollen culottes inside out. The lining, she shows me, is rich and soft, and the stitching perfectly even. “With certain designer brands [that she names but asks me not to mention], you turn the clothes inside out and it’s a mess, loose threads and no lining,” she says. “The insides of our clothes are as good as brands that cost three times as much.”

Habis and her collaborators have envisaged their brand as an anti-luxury conglomerate. “I’m very irritated by this notion of what luxury is today, which is a supermarket. It’s very abusive – buy, buy, buy. Diamondogs is not a fashion brand. It’s clothes. The idea is to present a woman with timeless pieces.”

 

 

Habis speaks reverentially of a garde-robe, a practice that originated in France in the 15th century during the Ancien Régime whereby designers would come to ladies’ estates and create all their clothes for the upcoming season. “There’s an elegance to buying a few pieces, and wearing and re-wearing them. It’s so nice when someone says ‘I love your blouse’ and you say ‘I’ve had it for 10 years. I’ve worked in it, I’ve partied in it, I’ve lived in it.’”

The culottes in question – masculine wool gabardine cut into swingy, feminine A-line trousers and priced at 470 USD – are one of twelve pieces that comprise Diamondogs’ first collection. There is another pair of trousers that are high waisted and with a wide leg, a dress, a coat, three tops for three different occasions, and a few suede and leather handbags and other accessories including stationery and whiskey-smoked tea. The pieces are whimsical, not trendy. They reference the glamorous and elegant stars of decades past like Greta Garbo, Stevie Nicks, Bianca Jagger, yet also feel utterly modern.

 

 

Habis explains that there was also a capsule collection of rings and bracelets in silver and gold that were priced around 5,000 USD a piece and were  designed by her longtime friend Walid Akkad but they sold out immediately, before she even had time to photograph them for her website (where the collection is sold and available for worldwide delivery). “Walid is very talented, and he has my mentality. He has standards and won’t prostitute himself – he refuses some clients,” she asserts. 

Contrary to what you might assume, Habis’ background is actually in graphic design; she helms the project as creative director but outsources the clothing, bags, and accessories to a talented roster of friends based on the key criteria of shared values. For example, Nathalie Khoury is one of her best friends – “I always knew she would do the bags” – but Beirut-based fashion darling Bashar Assaf was put in charge of the clothing, Habis explains, due to the fact she was “captivated by his collaborative personality”.  

The spirit of Diamondogs, and what it represents as a slow fashion brand, seems connected to a desire by Habis to fully commit herself to a project. “I’m not a perseverant person,” she mentions with a chuckle, “but this is the first time I’ve started something that I intend to continue as a long term project. I’m inspired by what I’m doing, the artistic and cultural aspects of it, it will always be interesting to me.”

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