BEIRUT: Meet Jessica Khoueiri-Achkar, the designer behind two of Lebanon’s flourishing local brands “Jessica K” and “Little Bluffers,” and mom of two.
After attending Instituto Marangoni in London for Fashion Design and graduating with honors, Khoueiri-Achkar interned with Elie Saab for several months before toying around with creating her own designs.
After designing a few pieces for friends for fun, Jessica K, the disruptor brand, was born in 2010.
Elements of Khoueiri-Achkar’s strong, edgy, positive, and flowery personality are reflected in every one of her pieces.
Her designs incorporate what society defines as feminine and masculine to debunk these conceptions. Jessica K pushes the boundaries of gender normative fashion.
An example would be her cove dress, a white cotton long-sleeved button-down shirt-dress with front gatherings, a square on the back, and a feminine band accentuating the waist. Another example would be her designed masculine 3 piece suit with a feminine lilac color.
Jessica K has gained a cult following, sported by members of Lebanese Parliament, foreign ambassadors, local lifestyle influencers, and fashion-savvy women alike.
Khoueiri-Achkar stressed on the establishment of her brand in Beirut and her insistence on producing her pieces in Lebanon. The focus of her brand is on the quality of the pieces as opposed to investing heavily in PR and marketing; she believes that the brand should speak for itself.
On being a working mom
Khoueiri-Achkar works around the clock- inspiration waits for no one.
Inspired by her two children, Peter and Milana, she launched Little Bluffers in 2015.
“My husband is amazing too for supporting me. Sometimes I need to travel, I work really late, I have a collection to finish…he understands this and helps me out,” Khoueiri-Achkar told Annahar.
On being a working mom, Khoueiri-Achkar told Annahar it was challenging at first, but she can’t envision her life any longer without her career.
“As a mom it’s not easy but you get used to it. At the beginning it was difficult. However, it makes me so happy when my son tells me he is proud of me when he and his friends wear LITTLE BLUFFER pieces...” she added. “I can’t picture my life without my work.”
FASHION X DIPLOMACY; Diplowomen Suit
Khoueiri-Achkar in collaboration with Karma Ekmekji, International Affairs Advisor to PM Saad Hariri and #Diplowomen creator, released their latest collaboration, the “Diplowomen Suit.”
“We chose to do a suit because it's what we do best and for its versatility and comfort,” Khoueiri-Achkar told Annahar. “It’s the trademark of politics and of ‘Jessica K’ the brand.”
The three-piece suit, blazer, pants, and vest, balances its masculine style with a color choice of lilac. The cut and style of the suit are professional while adding a pop of color to the traditional black, grey, and navy suit color scheme in a workplace dominated by men.
“We chose this particular collaboration with Karma because we believe in the women that she represents as a politician, a mom, and as a fashion icon that promotes local designers,” Khoueiri Achkar told Annahar.
“The collaboration stemmed out of frustration of not wanting to conform and wanting to be taken seriously as a woman in the field of politics and diplomacy,” Ekmekji said.
Ekmekji explained how both parties applied their shared understanding of the challenges of being a working mom into designing a suit for multitasking women- a challenge they know all too well.
“Jessica is someone who is a working mom. She works under pressure, she understands the responsibilities a mother has like me,” Ekmekji said. “But at the same time we come from extremely different worlds."
The suit is intended for a versatile “day-to-night, work to dinner, meetings to kids activities,” look for multitasking women.
On the collaboration, Ekmekji told Annahar that walking into the Jessica K showroom is like walking into a candy store, while also affirming her commitment to supporting local talents.
“I really love her clothes. The cuts are really a breath of fresh air,” Ekmekji added.
Whether it is for an official visit, traveling to a different country, or representing Lebanon in the many ways that she does abroad, Ekmekji uses her spotlight to showcase local talents.
“For me it’s considered fashion diplomacy because when you’re dressed in a Lebanese designer suit, or bag, you’re always asked where it’s from, which gives me the opportunity to talk about Lebanese talents,” Ekmekji told Annahar.
Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations. Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: [email protected]
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