Big things are happening to Lebanese fashion designer George Hobeika
When Georges Hobeika launches his new GH line this spring, the fashion designer will not only be introducing an extensive line of trendy and casual woman’s clothing for the first time, but also making it available in an unprecedented way (for Lebanon and the region, at least): solely through his e-boutique.
While Hobeika’s couture and bridal lines are now renowned worldwide, and his Signature line, which he introduced two years ago – designer evening gowns and cocktail dresses – is flourishing and becoming available in more and more top-end boutiques throughout the world, with GH, Hobeika is satisfying a growing demand in casual wear, fashions that women can wear every day and that are available to all through the Web.
“People today spend more time shopping online,” he says, noting that this rise, while already customary worldwide, has become increasingly prevalent in Lebanon and the region. “So, I wanted to introduce a line that can be browsed and purchased through an e-boutique.”
Before creating GH, Hobeika sought out a range of people “to see how they live and what they need. I recognized that there is definitely a demand for casual clothes,” he tells me, noting that the line may be eventually available in stores as well. And if GH, along with a couture line, his Signature dresses, his bridal wear and the accessories for each, were not already enough, a Georges Hobeika app – featuring videos and images of his designs and points of sale – was just made available for download.
These accomplishments appear to follow an expected progression for a man who grew up around fashion. As a youth, Hobeika spent much of his free time surrounded by haute couture. His mother, Marie, was a designer with a boutique and atelier, and Hobeika admits to having fallen in love with “the process and the details.” Although he started out studying architecture, during the war he stopped and left for Paris. Once there, his focus swiftly shifted to fashion, and he eventually landed an internship with Chanel, followed by several years working freelance on prêt-a-porter and a collection for a Paris-based Lebanese designer. At the back of his mind, however, was the desire to return to Lebanon and establish a fashion house here.
After the war, he did just that. He started off small. In 1995, he held his first fashion show at the Portemilio in Jounieh. “It was really small,” he recalls. “I think I showed 10 dresses.” But, that small show lead to a number of clients that continued to grow. In 2001, Hobeika had his first showing in Paris. This time around, he exhibited 30 of his haute couture designs. “Up to 2001, I was only in Lebanon,” he says. “After the Paris show, I started to grow, to sell outside of Lebanon and to require professional PR.”
Today, after being in the business for about 20 years, a business in which his mother still actively participates, his chic atelier-cum-showroom occupies several levels in a modern building in one of Horsh Tabet’s newer and wider avenues. He also has a showroom in Paris, and points of sale virtually across the globe. His plans are to keep expanding and growing, and not exclusively in fashion (although he would like to start a men’s line in the future).
Hobeika also has an eye and flair for furniture design. In his stylish waiting room, the unique and uncharacteristically long glass and wood table, the deep brown leather couches and the distinctively shaped chairs are all Hobeika’s designs. For now, though, and despite taking on a project as a favor to furnish one of his client’s homes, a “mansion” no less, a showroom of his furniture designs is still a concept in progress. “Eventually,” he says, smiling. “I have more plans and ideas I want to execute. And I still love getting into all the details of everything.”