Ten Minutes With Designer Andrea Wazen

9 min read
Karen Wazen

The Lebanese footwear designer talks MOJEH through her inspirations, her latest AW21 collection, and why Beirut will always be at the heart of everything she does

Congratulations on your new AW21 collection! Can you talk us through your inspirations?

Thank you so much! It was inspired by the rebirth of our beautiful city, Beirut. After the explosion in August 2020, the city turned to ashes, more than 300,000 people were affected and hundreds of lives were lost. Today, Beirut is still not the same city that everyone knew before, but we see it coming back to life, little by little. Just like a phoenix in gold plumage, Beirut has been reborn from the ashes, and this is what the AW21 collection reflects, and why we named it Renaissance.

What are your favourite pieces?

You’ll see new bold styles in the collection, like the Julia with our famous Sursock embroidery, the flashy-coloured Francas, and our Ida boots in new hot pink and black mesh. I am literally in love with the Ida boots, they are definitely one of my favourite pieces in this collection – extremely comfortable and suitable for rainy days. They are becoming my go-to style paired with an oversized shirt or trench coat.

Does your upbringing in Beirut influence all of your collections?

I grew up with both my parents being architects, so the architecture world is really captivating to me. Beirut’s architectural treasures have a unique beauty that I love to reflect through my designs, so a lot of the historical buildings in my city are embedded in every collection, including the Sursock embroideries and traditional Mandaloun window structure.

Why is it important to you to have all of your products crafted locally?

Producing locally is something that I believe is very important for my brand – Beirut is where my brand was created, and it’s exactly where I like my products to be created too. And honestly, I love working with Lebanese shoemakers. These people are amazing at what they do, have years of experience, are punctilious and very keen on details.

What has been key to carving out your own space in the competitive footwear market?

I believe it’s definitely the fact that the brand really represents authenticity and is very much attached to its Middle Eastern roots. I believe the fact we are produced and fully set up in Beirut really sparks so much interest to many.

What would you say has been the most defining moment of your career?

I would have to say it was winning the FNAA awards as Emerging Talent of 2020, which is the most prestigious footwear awards ceremony to date. Being acknowledged among so many designers that I have looked up to for so long really made me realise how far my team and I have come. It is the first time in history that a fully Middle Eastern brand was accredited, and for me that was amazing.

Heels or flats?

For the 9-5, it has to be my Sursock flats paired with an oversized shirt, but it’s always heels any other time!

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

As clichéd as it sounds: “Never give up and dream big.”

What’s next for Andrea Wazen?

I am currently working on so many exciting things for the brand, so you will have to stay tuned!

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