The founder of Lebanese fashion label Renaissance Renaissance, Cynthia Merhej, has just been selected as one of 20 semi-finalists for the 2021 LVMH Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the fashion world.
Following two generations of female designers in her family, Cynthia is shattering the glass ceiling as the first female Middle Eastern designer to ever be nominated for the LVMH Prize.
Talking about her Lebanese identity, she noted on Instagram, “It was not lost on me the way our stories were time and time again being appropriated and simplified into tragic or exoticized narratives.”
“However, our lives are not simply backdrops for these narratives, they are incredibly complex stories. Interwoven with our great pain and tragedy is an abundance of joy, humor, and above all great beauty,” she superbly put forward.
“My desire to give this incredible poetry a voice is the reason I founded @renaissance_renaissance. Being born into a special heritage of female founders and designers, I wanted to explore this through our traditions of garment making.”
Cynthia returned to Beirut in 2016 after pursuing Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins in London. She is the third generation of women in her family to launch their own atelier.
Her craft has thus far survived the pandemic, the economic collapse in Lebanon, and the harrowing Beirut explosion that took place on August 4, 2020, and is pushing through the harsh reality Lebanese have to live with.
If she wins the LVMH Prize, Cynthia will receive a grant of €300,000 ($356,724) that will help her develop the brand and put her label into hyperdrive right from Beirut.
Every year, LVMH rewards up-and-coming designers chosen for their talent and creativity. Cynthia can be this year’s winner. People can support her raw Lebanese talent by voting for her brand here. Votes are open until April 11th.