Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

'We must go on': Elie Saab shares message of hope from his devastated Beirut atelier

The Lebanese couturier reveals his son was left covered in blood after the blast

The buildings of Beirut may have been reduced to rubble, but the spirit of its people cannot be broken, one of the city's most renowned designers has vowed.

Elie Saab shared an optimistic message as he revealed the damage caused to his atelier in the Lebanese capital by the August 4 explosion.

The blast at Beirut's port, which has claimed more than 170 lives and left thousands more injured and homeless, ravaged the couturier's offices and personal home.

"I saw my son covered in blood; I could not believe it. I said OK, he is wounded, but it was OK, it was just cuts to his head and arms," Saab told Reuters this week, recalling the moment a vast stock of ammonium nitrate detonated.

"But it was 15 minutes that felt like two days long. It was not just because it is a father and son thing, it was because we all work together like one family under one roof."

Saab, who has dressed the likes of Halle Berry, Beyonce and Angelina Jolie in his ethereal creations, has 200 staff members working at his headquarters.

His home, a few hundred metres from the city's port, was completely destroyed.

The designer, 56, told Reuters the blast brought back memories of Lebanon's civil war.

"It was the same smell, the same dust, the broken glass. Honestly, we did not want to relive this and it was not necessary," he said.

"This is a huge setback but we have to be like Beirut – every time dusting itself off and returning to the way it was."

Saab, who founded his eponymous label in 1982, said his team hope to resume work at the brand's office this week, but his home will have to be rebuilt.

"We must go on ... It does not become us as Lebanese to give up. That is the doable part. But the biggest loss is the people you can't bring back."

The designer is one of a number of Beiruti couturiers whose ateliers were destroyed by the explosion.

Zuhair Murad's 11-storey office was devastated, claiming the designer's archives and collections.

The eponymous label, founded in 1997, was located on Charles Helou Avenue. Murad shared a look inside the devastated premises on his personal Instagram account, as he revealed his "heart is broken".

"Can’t stop crying ... the efforts of years went in a moment. Thank God for everything."

Design duo Azzi & Osta's atelier was ripped open by the blast, leaving the building's facade with gaping holes.

Couturier Rabih Kayrouz, meanwhile, suffered a small brain haemorrhage and two clots as a result of the blast, as well as needing 22 stitches.

Kayrouz's atelier was fewer than 900 metres from the site of the blast.

"Words are not enough. We will not forget. We will judge. We will rebuild ... And we will dance," the designer wrote in a poignant social media post following the disaster.

Updated: August 18, 2020 05:57 PM

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