Lara was born in the mountains of Chouf, in Lebanon, a still uncontaminated territory, made of archaic landscapes of a bewitching and enveloping beauty, just like the balsamic notes of cedar wood that perfume the desert air. There, the bond with Nature is stronger than ever and the stones exude history: precisely this intoxicating mix of ancient cultures and cosmological suggestions imprinted in her DNA is the lifeblood that animates her creative vein. And her gaze enters, black as night. Lara Chamandi welcomes us on a warm summer afternoon in his Milanese atelier, in the rooms of an ancient building that have now become his laboratory: it is here that in 2020, at the age of 26, after graduating in London, he founded the fashion brand that brings his first name. At the heart of his stylistic poetics there is the conception of a new feminism, no longer understood as a battle movement on the civil rights front; but rather how an inner journey to rediscover the profound awareness of being a woman in an absolute sense. With the bosses of him – all 100% sustainable – Lara Chamandi wants to invite the rediscovery of that Divine Feminine that radiates from the energy of the Moon and dwells in the essence of every human being, regardless of sexual declination, because we return to take care of our planet. Can women be taught the importance of Nature through a dress? Lara is convinced of this and brings those who want to follow her into her world made up of incontrovertible elements, water, fire, earth, air. Her first collections were acclaimed so much that she was recognized as one of the most promising emerging designers: on Monday 19 September she made her debut at the Milan Fashion Week with a presentation of his new Spring / Summer 2023 collection “Metamorphosis”, set in an art installation by Francesca Pasquali.
Can you tell us your story?
I was born in Lebanon, in the Chouf Mountains region. There stands the Monastery of the Moon, which I am convinced have transmitted to me a powerful creative energy: to support it I decided to study Design in London. I have always enjoyed working with my hands, touching and shaping the material. So, during my studies, I tried my hand at creating a new, completely natural material: after 3 years of research, I have developed a plant-based eco-leather. And from there I decided to let my blood flow into the creation of fashion. The more I experimented with this new fabric, the more I understood the importance of doing something firsthand to try to make the fashion industry more aware, combining my love for beauty with the need to protect the environment. With this goal in 2020 I founded my brand: create plastic-free and animal-free products and support women in a path of discovery and enhancement of their own self Deeper. At that moment the world of fashion opened up to me and I moved to Milan. I immediately felt that this was the right city for my project.
What are the cornerstones behind your inspiration?
Nature guides my work. The Moon, in particular, is my source of inspiration for representing the energy of the Divine Feminine and pass it on to all women, making them discover the power that is contained in it. In this sense, garments play a fundamental role, precisely because they are in direct contact with our skin. Each of my collections has a different energy point, but all of them always starting from natural elements: air, water, earth and fire. There is always a connection with spirituality and I want to inspire women to pursue their own spirituality to create a new bond, a new relationship with themselves.
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There is a strong component of spirituality in his life and work. Where do you get it from?
I do not follow any religion but I was born in the mountains of Lebanon, where an ancestral spirituality survives, a powerful cult of the Divine Feminine, which has impressed itself in me. Today again, it is this absolute and pure feminine energy that guides my intuition when I have to make important decisions. It is an archaic connection, an anthropological spirituality which can then be conveyed in the use of tarot cards or in astrology. Here is mine is a simple brand but based on the mystery of what goes beyond the human, like the Moon, which has one face visible and the other hidden. I believe that every woman is a bit like the Moon: she shows everyone the outer side of her but behind her hides a world.
How did you manage to condense in this vision of yours what are the canons of reference for the female figure in your Eastern and Western cultures?
They are actually more similar than you might think. Even in the Middle East women take great care of their outward appearance just like in the West but, in my opinion, this obsession with appearance destroys femininity. The true beauty of every woman lies in her soul and it is the result of its culture and how it was raised.
The world of fashion often gives us a very different image of a woman compared to the one she pursues.
This is my big challenge. Being able to convey to all women that the real power lies in our mind, not in our appearance. Some may follow me, others may not. But this too is the power of free thinking. For me it is not who I want to become, but what I can do for our world.
From her clothes emerges the look that a woman turns to another woman. There is no element of the male sphere.
I think I look at women with pure eyes. Men also have a feminine side and that’s what I want them to look at. I want to bring out the essence of femininity not its earthly manifestation, transcending its sexualization.
Yours is a 100% sustainable brand, how difficult is it to maintain this standard? Does it affect your creative process?
Each component of my collections is completely natural and sustainable, from buttons to sequins through zips and trimmings. Of course, there are many restrictions and limitations, but maybe it’s better this way because it pushes me to go towards the simplicity and essentiality of the clothes.
How far does fashion still have to go in order to get closer to sustainability?
Now everyone is trying to follow the trend, but they are far from changing the system. It will take time but I am confident: we are trying to go in the right direction, to be plastic-free and animal-free in everything we do, but we encounter difficulties with suppliers who are not yet ready to meet 100% sustainable demands. This is why I look back in time, to the simplicity of the past, an inexhaustible source of inspiration: when there were still no synthetic fibers, natural ones were worked best.
What are the women in your community like?
There are no limits, they just have to try to focus on themselves, on self-care. They are all women who want to be better and live better, even for the planet.