There’s a school in Lebanon that’s changing the face of fashion. While oft-positioned as a glamorous, aspirational industry of elites, 28-year-old Sarah Hermez is tapping into unexplored channels for fresh new talent.
Her school, which was co-founded by New York City professor Caroline Simonelli, offers entry to young creatives from orphanages and refugee camps.
In an interview with Reuters, Hermez noted that the program is for “people who are very talented, very passionate about design, but would never have had the opportunity to pursue design.”
The facility opened in 2011, and that’s when Hermez and Simonelli began travelling around Lebanon, seeking talent from underprivileged neighbourhoods. Today, the school creates a ready-to-wear collection with luxury fabrics that have been kindly donated from the likes of New York-based designer Donna Karan. The pieces range in price from $100 to $200 each, and the profits and donations go directly back into the school, which help in opening up spaces for future graduates.
As of now, there have only been two graduates from the program (it’s three years long). The numbers may be low, but the benefits are high: “It would have stayed as a hobby and I would have worked on it on a personal level only,” Ahmad Ahmer, a current resident of the program, told Reuters. “These three years will make a big difference in my life. I have a place to work and I have the material to use.”