BEIRUT: He took over the fashion industry by simply following his passion. Nothing else was needed for him to be exceptional except focusing on what he loves, and Assaad Awad did it all.
Awad is a Lebanese designer whose journey began in advertising, and after earning a BA in Lebanon, he moved to Madrid to work in an advertising agency. Ten years later, he decided to leave it behind and start a new path.
“I’ve always been very experimental with anything that’s in my hand,” he told Annahar.
He decided to take this passion seriously and start creating accessories for a living. Opening up his own atelier, he worked with metal and leather, materials that he identifies with as a designer. Then slowly, through hard work, he went up the ladder to become a worldwide designer.
It all mainly started when he designed for Lady Gaga. “I remember getting the call and automatically thinking it was a joke,” he said. From one call, many others were made where Awad ended up working with Lady Gaga over six times. For a while, he was known as the jeweler of Lady Gaga, when he was simply a designer that created pieces she liked.
This was the initial big hit for him when his audience grew and other celebrities began to show interest in his work, before his pieces were used in fashion shows, like Thierry Mugler’s and Vogue’s photoshoots.
“I felt like I initiated the glam rock trend again with my work being exposed to the big houses in the fashion industry,” he said.
How did it all happen so fast?
With a background in advertising and marketing, Awad knew how to sell his product. “I knew who my audiences were, and with my previous experience, I knew how to target them,” he told Annahar. Working 18 hours a day in his atelier, he was dedicated to creating what his audience wanted.
“One of my favorite projects and hardest was my collaboration with Balenciaga,” he said. He was asked to design all types of accessories inspired from certain pieces by Balenciaga. The project went under “Assaad Awad Plays Balenciaga,” where his pieces were exhibited in the costume museum of Madrid in 2015. “I chose 14 looks and created an updated version of them,” he added.
Awad returned to Lebanon after missing his home. He was a professor in Institute of Design IED in Madrid and continued being one in Beirut. “I’m currently working with The Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and IED to creating a Master’s program in Accessories and Wearables,” he said. As for his designs, he shuffles different projects. He created a Phoenix made of metal for ABC Verdun’s opening and is now handling a new project of bringing accessories in paintings to life.
Awad noted that he gives importance to the smallest details, which led him to work on big projects with Madonna and Mario Testino. “It’s very essential to watch and learn, and not be limited by anything,” he told Annahar.
Lady Gaga wearing Assaad Awad in London. (HO)
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