Some like it haute: Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad come up trumps in Paris

A model presents a creation by Zuhair Murad during the 2018-2019 Fall/Winter Haute Couture collection fashion show in Paris, on July 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Some like it haute: Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad come up trumps in Paris

  • The event, which featured shows by 34 designers in total, celebrates all things haute, widely considered to be the highest form of fashion
  • Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad displayed their latest collections

DUBAI: One week, two Lebanese design heavyweights. Paris Haute Couture Week (Fall-Winter 2018), which ran from July 1 to July 5, saw two of the region’s most-acclaimed fashion designers, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, displaying their latest collections, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

The event, which featured shows by 34 designers in total, celebrates all things haute, widely considered to be the highest form of fashion. And according to Mimi Raad — image consultant at MBC Group and curator of the Instagram page @mimiraadstyle — this edition really went back to the 160-year-old roots of the art form.

“Haute couture was originally all about the custom-made, impeccably fitted dress, where the subtle yet elaborate craft is almost invisible,” she explained. “Lately, it’s been equivalent more to ball gowns, which are too easy a terrain to let the imagination run. But (this edition of Paris Haute Couture Week) marked a real effort to return to dressmaking. Sartorial prowess and couture were glorified. Two major qualities in couture were observed; rigor and restraint.”

“Couture is all about making beautiful outfits that make women beautiful and refined,” Raad continued. And that’s certainly something that could apply to Saab’s Fall 2018 line — and the Lebanese designer’s work in general.

Saab has often stated that, for him, the woman always comes first, which goes some way to explaining why he continues to secure the business of numerous high-profile personalities, including Queen Rania of Jordan, Jenifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and Emily Blunt. In fact, he’s been dubbed the ‘King of the Red Carpet,’ and became the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar winner: Halle Berry in 2002.

Shown at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Saab’s latest collection brought something new and edgy to the proceedings — a couture collection inspired by renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.

Entitled “Of Forms and Light,” his show explored “the relationship between light, natural forms and structures.”

Key looks in the collection come in the form of tailored suits #OfFormsAndLight

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld) on


“Saab sailed from Beirut all the way across the Mediterranean and anchored in Barcelona for inspiration,” Raad said. “His embroidered ball gowns recalled the ceramic fantasy of Gaudí.

“Throughout this collection — with the brocade and gazar cocktails dresses, exaggerated collars, abundance of ruffles — he references Gothic shapes, and the arches of the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Each piece, from fitted gowns to full skirts was a piece of wearable art.”

She continues: “Saab is known for romantic silhouettes, with rich textiles and intricate details, the couture’s core. True to his style, he delivered delicate gold embroidery and swathes of sequins, and that’s his signature fairy-tale aesthetic.”

However, there were some designs that were a little too much for the fashion expert: “[I wasn’t a fan of the] ‘ruffle-mania,’” she said. “I couldn’t help but prefer the looks that were the most restrained.”

Elsewhere, Murad was channeling Imperial Russia in his fall-winter couture collection; think textures and patterns from the period and a nod to military suits.

Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio opened the show — her first time walking for the designer — in a plunging black, red and gold Tudor-style with dramatic cape.

“Murad transported us to a grand ball in St. Petersburg with regal colors, heavy fabrics and Fabergé motifs,” said Raad. “Every look was lavish. It wasn’t all about the balls, tsarinas and Fabergé eggs, though, Murad widened his scope, adding masculine elements borrowed from military uniforms, twisted to enhance femininity.”

Raad was a fan of the color palette Murad presented this month.

“The dark palette along with elaborate embroideries, and floral and arabesque motifs applied in bronze, gold and silver, transported us to a mysterious world,” she said. “From bright blue, rich red accents, to pale hues of green, grey, blue and ivory, the colors served as a luxurious backdrop for elaborate beadwork.

“Rich fabrics like velvet, duchesse satin, lace and chiffon were used in a harmonious palette,” she continued. “With this profusion of opulence, this collection looked more womanly than girly.”

Most fashion media agreed that both collections were beautiful, presenting something for every exclusive client of theirs. All that remains to be seen is who is going to be walking the red carpet or attending events in one of Saab’s or Murad’s creations this awards’ season.

What’s clear, though, is that one of the keys to the pair’s success is that they’re never afraid to push boundaries and create something new.

And sometimes, it’s okay to go big.

“I guess, for some designers, more is more in couture,” Raad concluded.


Lebanese designers take over Los Angeles awards show... again

Updated 20 November 2018
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Lebanese designers take over Los Angeles awards show... again

DUBAI: The red carpet at the annual Governors Awards in Hollywood was awash with Middle Eastern gowns as the likes of Rashida Jones, Michelle Yeoh and Lily Collins chose to wear creations by Lebanese designers — proving that the region’s fashion stars are as popular as ever with the who’s who of the film industry.
British-American actress Collins, who starred in 2017’s “To the Bone,” chose a gown by Georges Chakra, with a sparkling purple skirt and off-the-shoulder black bodice for Sunday night’s event in Los Angeles.

(AFP)


Meanwhile, “Parks and Recreation” actress Jones went for a sunset orange kaftan with a peek-a-boo cut out and silver detailing at the neckline by Reem Acra.

(AFP)


For her part, Yeoh, who starred in blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” wore an ice blue, figure-hugging gown by Elie Saab, complete with cutouts on the heavily beaded bodice.

(AFP)


The event honoring the careers of film industry legends Tyson, Levy and composer Lalo Schifrin brought some of Hollywood’s biggest names — Oprah, Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Harrison Ford and Clint Eastwood among them — to the Ray Dolby Ballroom in the heart of Hollywood to reminisce, laugh and schmooze without the pressure, as Hanks said, of “being nervous about who is going to win.”
The Governors Awards celebrate the careers of a few entertainment veterans who have not yet won an Academy Award by bestowing them with an honorary Oscar statuette. Recipients are voted on by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
For the 93-year-old Tyson, it was a half lifetime coming. It had been 45 years since her first and only nomination, for “Sounder” in 1972.
“This is a culmination of all those years of haves and have nots,” Tyson said, noting that she’ll be turning 94 next month.
The private, untelevised dinner gala at the Hollywood & Highland complex has also become an important stop on the campaign trail to the Academy Awards for some of the year’s awards hopefuls, making the event one of the most star-studded of the season. In a spin around the room, The Associated Press saw Nicole Kidman chatting with “First Man” director Damien Chazelle, Disney CEO Bob Iger leaving his seat next to Ford to meet Lady Gaga, “Eighth Grade” director Bo Burnham and “Roma” director Alfonso Cuaron deep in conversation, Hanks and Rita Wilson stopping to greet Melissa McCarthy, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt saying hello to Hilary Swank, the cast of “Black Panther” posing for a photo with Marvel chief Kevin Feige and Lin-Manuel Miranda hanging out with the “Crazy Rich Asians” cast and, later, Jonah Hill.
But all turned their full attention to the stage and the titans being honored when the time came. For while the event may be in its 10th year, and the honorary Oscar itself in its 60th, there was still room for a few firsts. Levy became the first member of the public relations branch of the film academy to win an honorary Oscar, while Kennedy became the first woman to win the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial award — an honor that she shared with her husband and partner Marshall.