ChI Shops at….
Recommended boutiques, shops,

Obegi for furniture and gift items (silver cigar cutters, little mirrors) Tel +9611 711 623/5/6

L’Artisanat in Ain Mreisseh , with its small entrance on the Corniche just past the St Georges and down a few paces from Le Vendome hotel – the wonderful, expensive “crafts” (though this is quite the wrong word) shop.

The Lebs SO get packaging and presentation right…. At Christmas, a carpet of fragrant bay leaves, inches thick, lined the corridor entrance from the street to the boutique overlooking the sea, with the perfume from them rising, and candles wafting around one as one walked in. Exquisite Syrian inlaid wooden arm chairs, superb antique embroidered caftans, slippers, silk handwoven scarves, jacquard velvet holdalls, handmade modern silver and gold jewellery by Lebanese designers. A feast for the eyes, a hole in the wallet….. Not the same as the adjacent Artisanat du Liban, which is quite different and in ChI’s view, not so appealing.

Drop into the newly-rebuilt Solidere area of town and the Saifi district – formerly the Souk al Najjarine, and red light areas. Amazing, elegant reconstruction – reminiscent of Paris and the Left Bank, with art galleries and state of the art boutiques…. Nada Debs’ designer store, for contemporary 60s perspex furniture and fabrics, and her East-meets-East (Japan/Beirut) collection, as well as contemporary wood and mother-of-pearl design objects.

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Check out Johnny Farrah’s IF boutique, on Rue Abdel Aziz in Hamra, which set the trend for his New York SoHo store of the same name, or his outlet in the Saifi for leather belts & bags – extremely trendy designs at extremely designer prices.

Take a look too at Piaff on Rue Clemenceau for BoHo chic at even more seriously designer prices. Beirut ladies also adore Todds (in Solidere). All in all, Saifi is a haven for expensive designer shops – window shop if you dare!

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In Verdun, go to Aichti, Escada, DKNY, “If”, Emporio Armani… (This really IS the Paris of the East!) Or Mango, Kookai, Zara which are all over the place in the big malls and in Verdun and Concorde, for chic top ups at budget prices.

For upmarket BoHo chic, take a wander into Plum boutique Saifi village, or Milia M for great designer tops.

For the bling wedding of the year, order from the designer Sohair Murad, champion of the embroidered, gem-encrusted, superb and very, very low cut gowns….Or the internationally-known Elie Saad, or Rabih Mroue. Cavalli always works – but bring that with you, from his latest European collection, or you may find someone else in the same dress….

For handmade shirts, try Alphonse just off Hamra Street facing the popular café Lina’s.

Sara Bags, the “must have” accessory for ladies who lunch. Hand made designs by Sara and Sara, two enterprising Lebanese designers are executed with skill and enthusiasm by Lebanon's female prisoners, giving them a valuable new skill and a much needed source of income. Super-chic, too!

Check out the carpet collections at Iwan Maktabi. Born in Isfahan, in what was then Persia in 1900, Hussain Maktabi came from a long line of carpet traders decided to travel to Baghdad and Damascus, and eventually established himself in Beirut 1926.

Today, his descendants showcase 16th to 19th century rugs from Iran, the Caucasus and more, featured in Gallery of the Phoenix Tower (next to the Phoenicia Hotel) tel +9611 363223/29/38, as well as in the two galleries in Beirut set up by his grandson and two granddaughters – one in Ashrafieh Charles Malek Avenue opposite ABN Amro Bank tel +961 1 336 301 and 739 084 and the other in Verdun St tel +91 1345 813.


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