Blueprint Beirut Winner of Curator Award at International Fashion Showcase 2016

23 February '16

London, 23 February 2016

Blueprint Beirut winner of Curator Award at International Fashion Showcase 2016

Dates: 19 – 23 February 2016

Opening Hours: 10.00 – 18.00 Daily

Address: West Wing Galleries, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA

Admission: free; pre-registration advised via Biletto

IFS Award 75 cut

The Arab British Centre and Starch Foundation are proud to announce that ‘Blueprint Beirut’ won the Curator Award at Fashion Utopias, the British Council and British Fashion Council’s International Fashion Showcase 2016 in association with London Fashion Week.

Blueprint Beirut, organised by the Arab British Centre and Starch Foundation, and supported by the British Council, showcased the best of Lebanese design with 8 Starch Designers presented inside Starch Architect Elie Metni’s exhibition installation – an interpretation of a traditional Lebanese home.

 The prestigious panel of judges, which was chaired by Sarah Mower MBE, BFC Ambassador for Emerging Talent and Chief Critic at, included Anna Orsini from the British Fashion Council and Anders Christian Madsen from ID Magazine among many. Sponsored by Bonaveri, the award was presented to Tala Hajjar by Bonaveri CEO Andrea Bonaveri himself. Also, Lebanon’s Starch Designer Timi Hayek came highly commended for Best Designer.

Reflecting on yesterday’s events, the Arab British Centre’s Executive Director Nadia El-Sebai said: “The IFS is a prestigious annual event with participation from across the globe, but the Middle East has been underrepresented in previous years. We initiated the partnership with Starch Foundation because we wanted to show audiences in the UK the strength and diversity of the creative and cultural industries in the Arab World. IFS 2016 showcased the work of 80 designers from 24 countries. There were three awards and two of them went to the Middle East. This is very promising for the region and we couldn’t be happier”.

Tala Hajjar, Starch Foundation co-founder added: “We are so proud of Starch Foundation and the Curator Award. The exhibition is a dream and has a huge significance for Lebanon’s designers. This is only the beginning. Great things will come!.”

For press inquiries and images, please contact Rosa Pérez, Communications and Events Officer:, Tel: +44(0)2078321310

Photo credit: Piers Allardyce, British Fashion Council

Notes for editors:

Other awards included Bahrain’s Hala Kaiksow for ‘Designer Award’ and the Czech Republic’s ‘Last Fata Morgana’ exhibition won ‘Country Award’.

About The Arab British Centre

The Arab British Centre is an award-winning, non-political, non-religious, independent, UK registered charity which works to improve the British public’s understanding of the Arab world.

The Arab British Centre organises and promotes arts and cultural events related to the Arab world from its central London premises and runs a number of initiatives in partnership with leading UK and international institutions. The Arab British Centre was named co-winner of the prestigious UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture 2012 for the ‘various activities and events organised, within and outside the Centre, to promote a better understanding of the Arab culture and foster intercultural dialogue.

Since it was founded in 1977, the centre has housed and subsidised other like-minded organisations involved in Arab-British relations. The Arab British Centre currently supports; BanipalCaspian Arts Foundation, the Centre for Transnational Development and Collaboration (CDTC), the Council for Arab-British Understanding(CAABU), Friends of Edward Said ConservatoryIbraaz, and Zaytoun.

About Starch

THE CONCEPT: Founded by Rabih Kayrouz, TalaHajjar and in collaboration with Solidѐre, STARCH is a non-profit organization that helps launch Lebanese emerging designers. STARCH is an annual program and a rotation of debut collections where emerging designers and an architect are selected each year. The designers are guided through the process of developing their collections, as well as promoting them (communication, marketing, branding and press). These collections are then presented for a period of one year at the STARCH boutique. Throughout their one-year at STARCH, the designers also get the chance to participate in design related workshops, seminars and collaborations.

THE BOUTIQUE: the Starch boutique changes annually its interior which is rethought by the selected Starchitect of the year. Starch boutique is located in SaifiVillage, Downtown Beirut, and offered by Solidere.

The NAME: Chemically, Starch is a WHITE, odourless, SOLID carbohydrate, typically composed of long chains of glucose molecules. It is the MOST BASIC form of all carbohydrates, a PURE substance, which is INSOLUBLE in water. In the textile industry, it is used in the manufacturing of adhesives, paper, and textiles as a HARDENING or BONDING component. The designers behind STARCH possess the same qualities as the substance for which the space is named. They are the component parts, the building blocks and the creative agents of a burgeoning fashion/design industry in Lebanon.

IFS 2016

Launched by the British Council and British Fashion Council in 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the International Fashion Showcase (IFS) is an annual cultural exhibition of international fashion. Now in its fifth year, IFS is free and open to the general public during London Fashion Week, engaging with an audience of fashion enthusiasts and industry alike. As a key part of London Fashion Week’s public programme each February it aims to highlight and celebrate the universal relevance of fashion in contemporary culture. IFS invites fashion authorities from all over the world, via their embassies and cultural institutes in London, to exhibit their most exciting emerging designers in specially commissioned and curated installations. To date 450 of the most exciting international designers from 60 countries have exhibited in the IFS initiative.

For IFS 2016, the British Council and British Fashion Council will present work by emerging fashion designers from 25 countries in an exhibition at Somerset House curated around the theme of Utopia. In a prize-giving ceremony during London Fashion Week a panel of industry experts, chaired by Sarah Mower MBE, will select a winning Country, Designer and Curator.

About the British Council

The British Council global arts team works with the best of British creative talent to develop innovative, high-quality events and collaborations that link thousands of artists and cultural institutions around the world, drawing them into a closer relationship with the UK.

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of nearly £700 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%. We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose. 

About the British Fashion Council

The British Fashion Council (BFC) was set up in 1983 to promote British fashion internationally and co-ordinate this promotion through fashion weeks, exhibitions and showcasing events. The BFC now supports designers beginning at college level and extending to talent identification, business support and showcasing schemes to help British designer businesses develop their profiles and business globally and promote British fashion and its influential role in Creative Britain and Creative London. The BFC Colleges Council offers support to students through its MA Scholarship, links with industry through Design Competitions and Graduate Preview Day. Talent identification and business support schemes include the BFC Fashion Film sponsored by River Island; BFC Rock Vault; BFC Headonism sponsored by Wedgwood; BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund; BFC Contemporary sponsored by eBay; NEWGEN sponsored by TOPSHOP and NEWGEN MEN sponsored by TOPMAN. Showcasing initiatives include London Fashion Week, London Collections, LONDON show ROOMS, the BFC/Bazaar Fashion Arts Foundation, International Fashion Showcase and the annual celebration of excellence in the fashion industry: the British Fashion Awards.

About Somerset House

Somerset House is a unique part of the London cultural scene, a historic building within which surprising and original work comes to life. From its 18th century origins, it has been a centre for debate and discussion – an intellectual powerhouse for the nation. Today, Somerset House is a key cultural destination in London in which to experience a broad range of artistic activity, engage with artists, designers and makers and be a part of a major creative forum – an environment that is relaxed, welcoming to all and inspirational to visit while providing a stimulating workplace for the cultural and creative industries. Since its opening in 2000, Somerset House has built up a distinctive outdoor public programme including Skate, concerts, an open-air film season and a diverse range of temporary exhibitions throughout the site focusing on contemporary culture including photography, fashion, architecture and design, with an extensive integrated learning programme. We currently attract over 2.5 million visitors every year.  It is one of the biggest communities of creative organisations in London including The Courtauld Gallery and Institute of Art, King’s College London Cultural Institute and over 100 other creative businesses.

About Utopia 2016

Utopia 2016 is four seasons of activity celebrating the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia. Published in Leuven in December 1516, More’s Utopia presented an imaginative and playful vision of the world as it could be at a time of great change. More’s Utopia is deliberately ambiguous: both “no place” and “good place”, he is clear that many other visions for society are possible. Through a series of exhibitions, events, new commissions, talks and workshops, Utopia 2016 will explore the broad cultural history of the idea of utopia and its relevance to 21st-Century cultural, ecological, and social challenges and opportunities. The year celebrates the pivotal role of the arts and culture in creating spaces where utopian dreams are possible. Throughout Utopia 2016 people from all walks of life will be invited to experiment with new ways we might live, make, work, play and dream.

Utopia 2016 is a collaboration between three neighbours: Somerset House, King’s College London and the Courtauld Institute and Gallery, in partnership with the British Library, the AHRC, and the British Council, will also engage many of the 300 plus creative organisations, artists and makers resident at Somerset House.