BEIRUT: A symbol of French luxury and sophistication, Paris Fashion Week this year featured a series of collections from celebrated Lebanese designers. Renowned fashion houses Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, Tony Ward and Georges Chakra were among those that participated in the 2019 event, which took place on Jan. 21-24. The designers unveiled their Spring/Summer 2019 collections to an international audience that featured fashion gurus and celebrities.
The Lebanese fashion style is inspired by the French romantic and luxurious taste. And Lebanese designers have found themselves in high demand by international celebrities hoping to be dressed for festivals, award shows and red carpet appearances. The success stories of these designers have turned Lebanon into the fashion hub of the Middle East.
At L’Ecole De Medecine, dragonflies were the inspiration for Ward’s collection, which the designer had titled “Anatomy of a Wing” because “they’re alone, they stand out in their creative flow.” Ward said he was inspired by the dragonfly’s anatomy. “The skeleton of the wing drew the lines of the collection” that were “interrupted with transparency and lightweight volumes,” combining structure and grace and evoking the delicacy, strength and movement of a dragonfly’s flight. The collection’s color palette further enhanced the dragonfly motif, with solids in plum purples, glittering greens, floating pinks and iridescent accents. Sleek, dark, slinky gowns contrasted with voluminous shapes that played around the models’ legs.
Ward is the son of well-known Beirut couturier Elie Ward. After working in many big fashion houses, including Dior and Chloe, Ward started his own brand with ready-to-wear and bridal collections.
Zuhair Murad’s collection traveled from the depths of the ocean to glittering sea surfaces.
Mermaid-esque dresses inspired by a dramatic ‘80s look were the center of attention. The use of tulle, shining silks, and sparkling details along with a color palette that ranged from pale blues to glittering grays and silky black to create an image of ocean depth and “evoke the feel of ripples on water,” he told Vogue.
Gradient blue shades and seashell motifs characterized an asymmetric dress that recalled a wave. In contrast, a skirt and jacket combo was embroidered with red flowers for a more formal ensemble.
For a bridal look, Murad styled a floor-length ball gown with a headpiece and crystal embroidered veil for a perfect ‘80s-inspired aesthetic.
Originally from Baalbeck, Murad obtained a fashion degree from Paris and established his name in the international fashion scene by dressing celebrities like Blake Lively and Miley Cyrus.
Saab swam to the depths of the sea for inspiration and came back up with a sparkling bounty of summer couture. A Caribbean island and underwater flora was the theme of the “Vida Paraiso” show inside the Palais de Chaillot that was put on to the sound of an enchanting James Bond-style soundtrack.
Oversized shades resembling a sort of underwater mask set the chic but playful tone.
Saab’s loose, full silk gowns gleamed with embroidered sequins and beading that referenced the sparkle of tropical fish, sea mollusks and mother-of-pearl. He employed colorful floras with organza, leather and silk to create flowing feminine silhouettes. Coral was the idea behind asymmetrical architectural gowns in vivid red that captured the randomly forming three-dimensional curves of the beautiful sea organisms.
Couture swimwear added a fun touch amid the aquatic musing alongside some figure-hugging mermaid cuts.
Saab also employed techniques such as laser cutting, printing and collage inspired by Latin America, particularly the Caribbean. The blue, pink and cream shades to accentuate the summer vibe.
In a dress worn by Ivana Anic, Saab mixed pink, blue and green in an homage to the summer theme and brought to mind the colors and energy of Lebanese beaches. The dress embodies the collection’s theme, which Saab described to Vogue as “a dream of luminous mermaids emerging from the waves and promenading along the sea.”
The show was topped off with a bridal gown in ivory, gold and bronze shades, embellished with crystal tulles. Saab was named the best fashion designer in the Middle East by Forbes in 2018 and was the first Arab designer to be admitted to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Beyonce, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez are among the many celebrities who have worn his designs.
Georges Chakra looked to bring his audience into a fairy tale at his show at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo. “Kilometers of tulle,” frills, bows, sparkles and shine contributed to the collection Chakra described to reporters as funny, romantic, poetic, sensual - “an escape from everyday life.”
Some of the pieces did invoke the fantastical, such as a full-length figure-hugging silver shining dress and a bright white wedding gown that made the model look like she was emerging from a bubble bath, such was the cascade of spirals that fell from the lattice-esque bodice.
Chakra’s insistence that pieces have “an excellent finish” was evident in both the structured and flowing pieces. Pantsuits decked with lace and long trains put modern twists on wedding style were followed by pastel, billowing gowns sometimes bedecked in florals, outsize bows and frills that evoked grasslands, tinsel or ballerina tutus that made the models look like nymphs emerging from a secret garden.
Chakra combined romanticism with modernity to create his collection, saying in a statement that he was inspired to celebrate the female form by harking back to traditional haute couture styles. - With AP