If you have ever wondered what a couture experience feels like, wonder no more as we take you into the fantasy couture world of renowned international couture designer, Ashi.
On a hot summer’s day, we were invited to visit the stunning Ashi atelier, and like everything beautiful, rare and exotic the atelier wasn’t exactly easy to find. Nestled amongst the beautiful old buildings and ancient trees of Beirut’s charming Achrafieh district, you get the feeling you’re strolling into a scene from a film noire. Just as we were looking right, left, up and down for a sign to a couture atelier, a man appears on the sidewalk and asks, “are you Dana?” puzzled at this question I hesitate a yes, and the man says “Ashi is waiting for you.”
As soon as he leads me into a stunning wrought iron gate entrance he disappears. I find myself standing in front of a set of antique stained glass French doors, I am about to knock when the doors open and I step into a black and white marbled floor foyer where I am greeted by the lovely Mona, Ashi’s head of PR. She is warm and courteous as she leads me into a jaw droppingly, perfectly symmetrical reception room where three fall winter couture dresses are hanging.

I gasp. It’s incredible.

Before I sit down, the talented Ashi walks into the reception room smiling, through a set of
narrow French doors and we instantly start chatting interiors, couture atelier interiors
that is. I tell Ashi how beautiful everything is especially the ceiling, he
tells me it has been imported from Venice. Can anything be more overdressed?! I’m
in heaven!
Once we get past
couture interiors we start chatting couture and royalty. Ashi tells me his new couture
collection which came out the day I visited is entitled “The Exiled Queen” depicting a fallen
maharani with precious possessions, gowns, jewels and treasures, but no home to
her name. She is beautiful and regal yet melancholic and dramatic, exactly the
adjectives that would describe the couture collection if you’d seen it without
any background about the artist’s inspiration.
Ashi and I walk
over to the three dresses hanging in the reception room and he explains to me
the process of beading and embroidery on gazar, a fabric he uses in most of his
pieces to maintain sculpture and volume, but he also tells me it is one of the
most difficult fabrics to embroider on. Beautiful things don’t come easy. I
approach a white jumpsuit piece with green stones, and I turn to Ashi with
hearts in my eyes and I say this is incredible (by now I’ve run out of
adjectives and synonyms for amazing and beautiful). With a huge smile he tells
me, they’re sapphires! I’m literally speechless.
Just then the lovely Mona joins us and Ashi turns to her and says why don’t we dress Dana up
in the new collection? They both lead me to the far corner of the reception
room where narrow French doors open to a closet full of Ashi couture and I’m handed
my first dress to try on, a bustier dress with a large voluminous side worn with
a cropped beaded sleeveless top to go over the bustier. The innovative thing is
the dress can be attached to your ankle so your couture won’t get in the way of
your fun!


Next I put on a
white jumpsuit, with an incredibly large tail and cropped sleeves top beaded
with green sapphires, I’m really beginning to feel like a maharani by this
stage. I then put on
what Ashi calls, his favour piece du jour, a red robe embroidered from top to
toe. The genius thing about this piece is that although it is beaded and heavy,
the weight is distributed so evenly that the robe has just one closure point,
at the waist, so that you are hugged by this extravagant piece of art.
Finally, I put
on a classic Ashi piece consisting of a short beaded dress and a semi-full
skirt over the waist. If putting on a fantasy felt like anything it would feel
like putting on this cream perfection.
Time really does
fly when you’re having fun, so sooner than I wanted to, I had to put on my
civilian clothes and venture out into the non-couture world to think about all
the fantasy and drama that I was immersed in. But just as I am about to go Ashi
leaves me with another surprise by telling me, that the collection has not yet
been revealed to anyone and I had been the first to see it and put it on, an
honour I will never get over! Thank you Ashi!













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