A new auction by Sothebys is raising much-needed funds for the city of Beirut, following the devastating blast in August that killed more than 200, and left $15 billion in property damages. Among the items up for grabs is a piece of red carpet fashion history—the couture Elie Saab dress Emma Stone wore to attend the 2015 Academy Awards.
Stone is among the many prominent figures across entertainment, fashion, and art to partake in the upcoming auction, titled ‘To Beirut, With Love’, which will run from December 7th to 15th. Stone’s Oscars dress is no doubt the standout piece on offer (it’s expected to fetch between $40,000 and $50,000), but it sits alongside other iconic items, including a diamond-skull charm bracelet designed by the artist Damien Hirst, a jacket worn by Mick Jagger during the 2017 Rolling Stones world tour, and the leopard print outfit Gerri Halliwell wore in the 1996 video for the Spice Girls’ hit ‘Wannabe’.
Funds raised from the auction will be split across five charities, all of which are working to rebuild Beirut, and to help house the 300,000 city inhabitants who have been left homeless in the aftermath of the deadly explosion. As per the Sotheby’s press release, they include Nusaned, Beit El Baraka and Baytna Baytak, “whose focus is on shelter for displaced families and rehabilitating residential homes and local businesses”, Al Fanar, “a venture philanthropy organisation who provide support for social entrepreneurs and small businesses”, ans House of Christmas, who will “help preserve and protect heritage buildings”.
Elie Saab—who has dressed everyone from Angelina Jolie to Halle Berry and Taylor Swift—is arguably Lebanon’s most notable fashion name, and was the first designer of Arabic descent to be introduced to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Saab is among the many Lebanese creatives directly and dramatically affected by the Beirut disaster, which decimated many designers’ studio spaces, including his own atelier.
In a harrowing interview in late August, Saab revealed he had directly witnessed the blast while working in his studio—his son was injured, but thankfully survived. “Beirut will remain our greatest source of inspiration and the resilience of its people will continue to strengthen our common thread,” he said at the time. “We will stand united and support one another to overcome this crisis.”