'Sylvie Gabrielli' is the culmination of over 50 years of one family’s passion for style and design. It all started in Beirut, Lebanon in 1969. Charles, my Jido(grandfather in Arabic), used to be in the travel and hospitality industry and would bring gorgeous clothing, jewelry and accessories back to my Teta(grandmother) Henriette, from all the brilliant places he went to on business trips. Teta began sharing and selling these fabulous fashions to her friends and the girls in her neighborhood because they loved what she wore. Every time Jido would go out of town he would bring things back for her, and eventually it turned into much more… Jido and Teta decided to open a boutique in Beirut. They did very well and sold retail to the women in the community and city. The couple would travel together through Europe and search out the best fashions to bring back to the store to sell to their loyal customers.
Quickly they had to enlarge the store and added more accessories and upgraded trends. They moved to sell to other retailers by wholesaling to buyers all over the middle east. This created a network of distributors. The customer base grew exponentially and the wholesale aspect became a dominant factor in the business. Their sons Michael(my uncle) and Antoine(my father) would soon join them in their adventures of curating fashions for their company. Stores, crafters and designers such as young Elie Saab used to work with my father and uncle to create new jewelry designs for their upcoming collections. Sourcing from fashion hubs of Paris, London and Milan helped the brand to grow and the company opened 4 other fashion stores at a major department store in Beirut. The political status and economy forced a new direction.
My Dad was travelling continuously across Europe in search of new and exciting trends such as Buch + Deichmann of Denmark. In 1983 the family felt that a creation of a distribution satellite office in North America was the best step to expand their wholesale distribution of jewelry. Once arriving Michael and Antoine created a new collection of handmade leather handbags. The designs of the collections were created in house and the distribution flourished to a multitude of boutiques and department stores including Neiman Marcus, J.C Penny and other fashion outlets. Also, my dad met my mom- - Kim, and they began working together.
Our Safi handbag line with the jewelry and accessories collection were presented at all American and Canadian fashion shows and wholesale markets, thus creating a large following of boutiques and fashion stores.
Due to unforeseen events that were on forced on my Dad & Uncle, the brand was put on hold and no new collections were created. The Brand disappeared around 1990 from the market and only regional pop up fashion stores were the sole means of sales. I was young and watched my family how they worked continuously to keep the Brand ongoing by trending and evolving as the years go by.
Fast forward to 2012, I’m studying at the University of Tennessee in the Art department, I decided with my Mom and Dad to open a retail store and reignite our fashion story. Sales of clothing and jewelry and a flagship store with a website was created. The store has been successful but I’m always looking ahead to reemerge Safi collection with a renewed outlook. The concept of vintage sustainability, reduced waste and remade vintage has always interested me, especially now.
Fast forward again to 2020, my decision to create a new website to revive the brand my father and uncle were so passionate about became clear. The birth of my first daughter, Sylvia, happened in 2020. She has brought so much love, joy and inspiration to our lives. We ultimately felt that the time is to act is now, with a pressing need to showcase our vintage and handmade designs with the past and future in mind.
Written by Gabrielle and Antoine Safi 2021