If you’re down and you’re troubled, don’t YouTube James Taylor but visit Liwan. Entering the boutique is like getting a shot in the arm of goodwill. Owned by Dina Haidar and Christine Bergström, the place emanates a salon-like atmosphere, which welcomes all. True, Liwan is stocked with the best kaftans, linens and cushions - mostly created by Lina Audi, the Beirut-based designer - but stepping into the shop is equivalent to jumping on a flying carpet and being transported elsewhere. Dina and Christine sum up civilized – by that I mean that they allow their clients a respectful distance, yet are always on hand to offer advice.
"Stepping into the shop is equivalent to jumping on a flying carpet and being transported elsewhere."
I was recently there when Dina was holding the fort (Christine was off in Sweden, her homeland) and a long-haired, seriously looké (trad: stylish) Adonis wandered in, requiring presents for his girlfriend’s mother, step-father and teenage sister. “They have everything, and I mean everything,” he explained, looking down at his Berluti’s. “But I’m staying in their villa for a fortnight.” And it was obvious that he wanted to choose something that would surprise, impress and not offend his loved one. Dina smiled warmly then led him to the tray of Liwan’s long beaded necklaces. “How about these for your hostess?” she said, pulling out an orange one. “They’re fun around the neck, wrist, waist or hanging from the mosquito net.” For his host, Dina pointed to the array of brightly coloured sandals. “On holiday, they’re practical since it’s impossible to slip in them,” she assured. Adonis quickly called his darling for her stepfather’s shoe size. Afterwards, he settled on a stripy beach towel for his girlfriend’s sister and chose another for his sweetheart. Then waited – somewhat impatiently - as Dina prepared her magnificent Liwan packages, which are topped off with turquoise glass droplets.
Liwan, 8 rue St Sulpice, 75006 Paris
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradis, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.