This past year I have been blessed with an insight into a wonderful part of the globe known as Lebanon and the tiny cosmopolitan city of Beirut. Geographically it sits on the Mediterranean Sea and borders Syria and Israel. Non geographically it sits firmly in my heart..
My introduction to Lebanon was through the somewhat unlikely passage of fashion and believe me when I tell you what a thriving fashion hub this is. Specifically I am struck by the dominance of couture in this region, Lebanese designers totally and utterly embrace the cult of fantasy and that is the very soul of haute couture. Simply put – they get it.
In Lebanon, fantastical made-to-order dresses are in such high demand that they are providing a way into the industry for talented young designers. Haute Couture literally translates as ‘high sewing’ and It is the art of dressmaking to its highest most luxurious degree. Pieces are made-to-measure by hand, to fit each customer uniquely and perfectly. There are estimated to be only around 2000 Haute Couture customers worldwide, household names Dior, Chanel, Valentino and Elie Saab are all on the official Paris Haute Couture Schedule and newly elected guest members include Zuhair Murad and Herve Leroux.
Couture heavyweights you might not even realise are Lebanese, include Reem Acra and Elie Saab whose whimsical creations have been worn by Hollywood stars gracing red carpets for years now (remember Halle Berry receiving her Oscar in 2002 in that magnificent sheer embroidered and silk burgundy Elie Saab dress?) these are clearly the best known Lebanese Ambassadors. But the culture of haute couture is deeply ingrained in the lebanese fashion arena and there are many up and coming Lebanese couturiers biting at the ankle of the big hitters just waiting for a big break.
Here are some of my favourites:
Rami Kadi who recently presented during Paris Fashion Week really embraces the romanticism and escapism of couture with a diverse range of Princess worthy gowns set against edgy more day-ready pieces ( see studded gold and turquoise ensemble)
Jean Louis Sabaji is a name creeping into the consciousness of any fashion-forward couture fans, this young couturier has the ability to combine the drama and fairytale elements with sharp tailoring, clean lines and damn sexy yet contemporary pieces which both flatter and celebrate the feminine form. One of my favourite looks from SS15 is this undeniably sex cream shredded goddess of a dress just risqué enough to make my skin tingle. The eagerly anticipated new collection is dreamily ethereal exploring 3D florals and punctuated throughout with JLS signature roses.