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Annabella Hilal’s runway walk is ‘flame of hope’ for Lebanon

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DUBAI: Lebanese female TV presenter Annabella Hilal’s appearance on the runway for a top Italian fashion house this past week was a chance to demonstrate how art can help heal trauma a reference to the challenges facing her country.

Hilal was among several Arab celebrities and influencers who surprised fans by walking for the Italian label during Milan Fashion Week.

In an interview with the Arabic news outlet, she said that opening the Elisabetta Franchi show in Milan on Friday meant “a lot” to her. She wore a floor-length green dress with a thigh-high slit and subtle pleating.

“Despite all the difficulties that my country is going through, I opened this show … and was able to represent my country, so it is an honour for me.” she added. “It helps us (to) remember that no matter the challenges, art, and fashion play an important role. It gives us, the Lebanese people, a flame of hope.”

The presenter had not worked previously as a model, but the backstage meetings with all the catwalk stars and the preparation reminded her of the time when she competed for the 2006 Miss World title in Warsaw, Poland.

“I had met … girls who came from all around the world (including) America, Europe and Canada. I quickly recalled the Miss World days in these moments,” she said.

Hilal does not plan to continue working as a model in the fashion industry, despite the encouragement of her fans, family and friends.

“It needs patience and persistence … I prefer to focus more on the media industry,” she said.

Meanwhile, other regional stars who presented the brand’s Fall 2022 collection included Alanoud Badr, Deema Al-Asadi and Zeynab El-Helw.

Al-Asadi, who is an Iraqi fashion influencer and Dubai-based blogger, said she was nervous before the show.

“It was my first time ever (walking a runway) and not just any runway, it was walking for Elisabetta Franchi, which is one of my favorite brands at Milan Fashion Week,” she said. “It is an opportunity that I will always be grateful and thankful for.”

“It was an adventure and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a beautiful experience and I learned so much … It made me realize how hectic it is for models. It is very stressful, very intense and the walk is not easy. But I felt so proud to represent my region at Milan Fashion Week,” she added.

Al-Asadi said that the Italian designer wanted to show that her brand was wearable for the general public and not just tailored to models of specific sizes and age.

The fashion lover said that she has now conquered her fear for the runway and would repeat the experience if she has another chance.

“It was really a turning point in my career,” said the social media star.

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