IFA Paris is proud to support and follow its alumni, talented people who have trained with the school’s professors and have continued their career in the fashion industry. Today we meet Rebecca Dahrouge, originally from Lebanon, who graduated from the Short Course Fashion Studio where she learned the essential skills in fashion design.
What was your background before studying at IFA Paris?
I graduated with a master’s degree in architecture, but my passion for dance made me more interested in designing clothes. During my studies, I received a sewing machine and started designing clothes without having any training. In 2012, I launched my first collection in collaboration with a textilerie in Beirut, I felt I could do more, so I decided to train on textiles in Milan.
What did you do at IFA Paris?
After having acquired skills in textiles, I wanted to train in clothing design, I found the French Fashion School IFA Paris which offers a very condensed program taught in English. I enrolled in the Fashion Studio short course in 2018 with lecturers Karine Spinner and Marie Laurence Sapin. It was a very intense and complete course with very committed teachers who did not let us down to succeed in the projects. Everyone who comes out of this training will have a general vision of all the steps of the creation of a collection: from the research to the conception to the prototyping. I really worked on everything!
And after IFA Paris?
Once I finished my training at the school, I directly found a job in Beirut in a semi-couture and ready-to-wear house. I had the knowledge to be operational, I attended all the steps of the creation of collections, and I quickly evolved in the company! But the idea of creating my own brand kept coming back and after the explosions in Beirut, I came back to Paris. I tried to find a job in which IFA Paris helped me in my search. I then applied for the incubator “The Wonders”.
What is The Wonders?
Between May and October 2022, I participated in 12 masterclasses where each of us had a challenge to achieve (moodboard, collection creation, sourcing, retroplanning, crowdfounding, business plan, pitch…). We were a total of 10 eco-responsible brands to participate in these courses. During these 12 weeks, we approached fashion in a more business than creative way with professional coaches such as Yasmine the co-founder of Rive Droite, Fatou, Claire from Conscious Fashion, and other people from the fashion industry. At the end of the course, we had to present one of our creations at the Sézane fashion show. A jury of experts had to choose a winner for a year’s residency at the Sézane brand. My brand “contretemps” won! My residency at Sézane included a 360 help within their offices on several areas such as: logistics, marketing, production, DA, etc.. I always try to realize my vision and my ideas in a successful way, this surely comes from my architect side! During my experience at “The Wonders”, I learned to delegate, to surround myself well, while trying to develop skills to know how to manage your teams and achieve your goal.
Can you tell us more about “contretemps”?
“Contretemps” is the story of an active woman who does several things during the day: she has her coffee, goes to work, to her sports class, takes a walk in the Paris sunshine and finishes her day with a drink with friends. “Contretemps’” clothes adapt to a rhythm of life, they move, and transform themselves, while being comfortable and stylish. My first piece is a jacket named “la veste à Quatre Temps”, because it transforms in 4 different ways, to adapt to the rain or the sun. With a colorful drawstring, it has the “sportswear” style that is the signature of the brand. The fabric used is mainly produced from recycled plastic. “Contretemps” is above all a social project. I work with Lebanese artisans who have lost their jobs or have seen their talents devalued by the local currency despite a wonderful know-how. I try to give them a place in society to encourage Lebanese production! I collaborate with Beit Baraka in Beirut, which is the equivalent of the Resto du Coeur in France, they bring together Lebanese artisans to give them hope. For the moment “contretemps” is a brand that will be launched as a single product, whose production will be made entirely in Lebanon.
Do you have any advice for IFA Paris students who would like to launch their brands?
Having experience is very important before launching, you have to see how things work in a brand, as in any field experience is essential, you have to be in contact with the customer and understand what the market wants. When you start out, you take everything personally, and you are quickly disappointed! So, learn from your mistakes because that’s what will push you further! It’s a very competitive world, you must understand your strengths and work on your weaknesses. You must persevere, educate yourself, get inspired by looking at artists or other fields. You have to surpass yourself, because even if the school offers a solid support, you have to know how to stand out. To successfully launch a brand, you need a good business plan and a study of what the market needs. A customer is based on 3 things (according to Yasmine Auquier Buron): first the product, then the price in relation to the market and finally the storytelling!
Above all, do what you like and have fun, the journey is long but exciting!