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Lebanese designer slammed for explosion debris bag

December 8, 2020 at 1:31 pm

A ‘Silo’ bag, titled ‘The Light of Beirut,’ made out of glass debris from the 4 August Beirut port explosion, created by brand Vanina, 7 December 2020 [Seamus_Malek/Twitter]

A Lebanese designer has been forced to remove a collection from its website after being branded distasteful.

The brand, Vanina, marketed a “Silo” bag made out of glass debris from the 4 August Beirut port explosion, sparking a backlash.

The bag was part of collection titled “The Light of Beirut” and was intended as a tribute to the Lebanese capital.

Beirut was devastated in the blast, which left over 200 dead and thousands more injured.

The explosion happened when nearly 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate ignited and exploded in the city’s port, shattering windows and balconies across Beirut.

The bag is a golden rimmed clutch, made up of tiny white shards of glass collected from the debris.

The glass has grooves running down its sides as a reminder of the grain silo that stood next to the blast site.

“Handcrafted with the glass shattered by the 4th of August explosion, this shimmering clutch stands still like the iconic Silos of the port of Beirut that it reminisces,” the description of the bag on the website read.

READ: As Lebanon subsidy crunch looms, UN agencies warn of social catastrophe

Vanina had priced the bag at $550 and offered to gift 25 per cent of each sale to the Beirut Heritage Initiative, a group attempting to restore and preserve the city’s damaged heritage.

The collection also included a range of bags made from the explosion debris, priced between $480 and $600.

The bags sparked outrage online with many users condemning the designer for trying to profit from the traumatic explosion.

One user tweeted: “So we’re wearing people’s blood and trauma now?! How insensitive can you be to make profits out of this. This is truly disgusting and disgraceful.”

Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Massive blast rocks Beirut, Lebanon – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The Lebanese designer later removed the collection from the website and apologised for the lapse in judgement.

“We heard you,” a statement posted to the brand’s Instagram account said. “Our intention with The Light of Beirut was to send a message of hope… we feel that it has hurt some of you and are sorry if our message was misperceived. We have decided to pull the collection. We send you all love and strength.”

In October, a drama series titled 6:07 Beirut, after the exact time of the explosion, faced a similar backlash for insensitivity.

Lebanon is still struggling to recover in the aftermath of the explosion and to date, nobody has been held to account.

READ: Lebanon’s Geagea says resort to ICC over Beirut port blast, if local probe fails