BEIRUT: Celia Creations is a brand that rekindles the artistic bond between Youssef El Hadi and his grandmother Celia, whilst being a tribute that honors her legacy.
“The entire idea is a tribute to my grandmother, because I owe everything I am as an artist and a designer to her. From a very young age, she taught me how to draw, play with colors, and understand the emotions behind them. She is my idol, and an ideal woman in the eyes of many, and I wanted to eternalize that memory of her through publicizing her art,” El Hadi, the founder of Celia Creations, noted for Annahar.
Celia El Hadi (1929 – 2010) was the first woman in her village to receive a university diploma, and the first one to become an artist. She was a revolutionary and a true feminist, for she defied societal conventions and unshackled their binds that often dictate what is suitable for a woman to pursue.
Celia was a fashion icon and an avant-gardist; most of her clothes were designed by her, and she used to paint on them which rendered them one of a kind. El Hadi was inspired by her revolutionary conviction of creating wearable art. Thus, he launched a brand built on pillars of wearable art that is ethical and accessible to all.
“All the bags are 100% Lebanese handmade from vegan leather and textiles, and the material that is carried throughout every piece of the collection is brass, which carries its own heritage and patina,” El Hadi noted. “The logo of the brand is Celia’s signature, as if it’s a final note addressed from my grandmother to every holder of her art.”
The designs are cooked onto the fabrics rather than printed on them in order to capture the radiant colors of the paintings and ensure their vivid portrayal. This allows the paintings to be further perpetuated with time because their radiation would increase with every time the bags get exposed to the sun.
The brand’s products are displayed at Sabine Mazloum’s store, “Sabine’s Signature,” in Downtown Beirut. El Hadi chose this particular space for his collection because of the prominence, heritage, and nostalgia its location carries for his family.
El Hadi also plans on launching a clothing line in the near future. He further stated that the brand is now navigating towards a more fluid definition of what a bag is.
“We launched the brand with manufacturing regular classic bags; the first bag ever made was actually a modern reinterpretation of one of Celia’s old bags. Then we resorted to the clutch/organizer and the cardholder which are unisex,” he told Annahar.
Celia gifted all of her paintings to her grandchildren; each painting has a name on its back. However, the family decided to keep them in her village home in Bzebdine for the time being. They transformed her house into a museum open to the public in an unconventional manner.
“We displayed her own private collection which she used to hide. Her home was exactly left how it was when she was still around. The rooms and painting tools still linger where she left them. She had a very eclectic personality, and a token of the latter is a closet filled with dolls that she used to collect throughout her travels. She was special in a plethora of ways through which we witness vestiges of her personality,” he said.
Being one of the very first few women artists in Lebanon, and an art instructor herself, Celia lives on through her paintings and the marks she left on the emerging artists she taught and the people who personally knew her.
El Hadi captures his grandmother’s essence by continuing her legacy and paying her tribute through spreading her art and “pushing boundaries just like she did with everything thing she created in her life.”
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