Cynthia Merhej

Cynthia Merhej ilustración 1
18/11/2019 - Margaux Warin


Renaissance is defined as "a revival of, or renewed interest in something - from French renaissance, from re-'back, again' + naissance 'birth'" in the Oxford dictionary. 

Renaissance is the name Lebanese designer Cynthia Merhej chose for her own brand, created in 2016, when she returned to live in her hometown, Beirut. It could symbolize the rebirth of fashion creation in her lineage, a real leitmotiv in her family. She is the third of a generation to create her own atelier, unlike her mother and great grandmother. Made  with a strong consideration of female body types, her creations truly enhance body curves, with a very couture approach. Every piece is an illustration of her craft skills and artistic talent (she is also an illustrator). Nowadays, Cynthia's work could also symbolize the renaissance of a certain vision of fashion and couture, while being part of the zeitgeist. 

Your Fall/Winter 2019 collection in 3 words: 

sensual, romantic, pragmatic 


Your main inspirations for this collection? 

18th century fashion in the Middle East and Europe, Nobuyoshi Araki, 18th century erotica


Your Favorite look from the collection? 

There are several, but probably the red look and the camel coat. 


You are the third of a generation of women in your family to have your own ateliers. How did your family influence you? 

My family has influenced me greatly, from my outlook on fashion and the design process to the business aspect. My mother has instilled me in a great appreciation and respect for construction, quality and craft. On the business side, she taught me to have a strong work ethic, to be organised, and to run the business in a fair and ethical manner. 


Why did you choose Renaissance as a brand name? 

There are several reasons. I believe the word Renaissance represents evolution and regeneration. I see women as multi-faceted, and as they evolved in their life I wanted to create clothing that would support them, allow them to dream, but most importantly remain with them and relevant throughout those different periods in their life. 


Your clothes are enhancing women and femininity. What would be your definition of femininity nowadays? 

I would describe femininity as a word that is detached from physical and social gender constructs. Femininity is an attitude that I believe can be adapted by everyone, no matter who you are or how you identify. It means to have a certain kind of strength that comes from embracing your vulnerabilities.   


Which Artists inspire you the most?

There are so many! Louise Bourgeois, Etnel Adnan, Noboyushi Araki, Charlotte Perriand, Raymond Pettibon are some...


Where is the last place you travelled to that inspired you? 

Dubai, I find it to be a great place for calm and to collect my thoughts. 

If you could live in any era, when would you choose and why? 
Because history is one of my favourite subjects and I know so much - it makes me grateful to be living in the time I am now. Because of the sacrifices of the generations before me, I am able to have the freedom and privileges that I have today, especially as a woman. So I appreciate and respect that and try to do what I can to push things forward today for future generations. I would definitely not complain though if someone invents a time machine that allows us to hop into the past and future!

If you could give an advice to young/aspirants designers/entrepreneurs, what would it be? 

You need to love what you are doing, this takes so much commitment. If you're not sure then take your time to figure it out, there's no straight or 'correct' path to anything.