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fashionApril 5, 2021

Collection 6: Why Azzi & Osta looked to the 1990s for autumn / winter 2021

The Lebanese design duo has introduced a new and rather uplifting direction for winter

The Lebanese design duo of Azzi & Osta has showcased its autumn/winter 2021 collection and it's surprisingly upbeat and almost summery for a winter wardrobe.

Filled with sugary pink, grey, pistachio green and plenty of white, the new line's uplifting feel is even more surprising given the hardships the designers faced in 2020. Not only did founders George Azzi and Assaad Osta attempt to run a global fashion business amid a worldwide pandemic, but they also had to contend with the ongoing financial crisis in Lebanon.

Against that kind of backdrop, anyone would be forgiven for presenting a more sombre, gloomy collection, yet Azzi & Osta's collection is fresh, light and youthful.

Inspired by the 1990s, the designers chose to look back in time, to their teenage and carefree years, when the pair decided that a future in fashion beckoned.

The collection, called Collection 6, sees '90s-inspired shapes appear as button-front dresses, hanging to mid calf and in tones of pale pink and putty, with clever details around the neck (think collars stretching out to become a storm shield across the back and nifty twisted halter necks), which act as a tidy reminder of the cutting skills of the brand.

Masculine suits are given a glamorous makeover, arriving oversized in dark berry sequins and tightly clasped at the ankle, or as a severe long grey wool skirt, slashed to the hip with a corseted jacket and a deeply scooped neckline.

More masculine touches arrive as olive green wide-legged trousers, now with a very feminine ripple of cloth running down one leg, or as sharply tailored jackets shortened into peplumed corsets, or as part of a bridal trouser suit, wrapped in white satin.

Sculptural forms can be seen as deep folds run across the hips of a dark red dress, and as a black satin bow ingeniously widened into a bandeau top. More stiffened folds frame the neckline of a cream sheath dress, while pink velvet became a simple top, with clever inverted funnel shaped sleeves. Mixed with fitted grey stovepipe trousers, it is a sleek, almost resort, option.

For those who prefer their dresses filled with volume, the designers offer full-length tulle overdresses in olive green, a pretty, full-skirted evening gown in shimmer midnight blue and even a charming day swing dress in ice cream pink.

Perhaps mindful of the difficulties in Lebanon at the moment, the pair decided to shoot this campaign in Los Angeles. Working with photographer Amanda Charchian, the images carry a playfulness that is engaging and will certainly appeal to an international audience.

While the pandemic was trying for any fashion label, Azzi & Osta used the time to open its own e-commerce platform, shifting away from the brand's reliance on a physical space and allowing them to connect directly with clients.

It was a move well received by customers, perhaps proving to the designers there is still a real demand for their collections across the world.