Deriving from a culture rich in textile fabrication and pattern-making, many designers from the Middle East naturally go on to become accomplished couturiers. Twice a year, at Paris Haute Couture Week in January and July, a cadre of extraordinarily gifted couturiers from the Arab world are given the opportunity to showcase their work alongside maisons like Givenchy and Chanel – and they more than hold their own.
In fact, there are so many talented couture houses in the Middle East that the region has become known for dressing A-listers on the red carpet. Thanks to Elie Saab, whose pioneering vision paved the way for others, many other designers like Zuhair Murad and Georges Hobeika have emerged with their own versions of haute couture. Each season, we are amazed to witness the growth and evolution of these inspiring designers. Take a closer look at the eight best Fall 2018 Couture collections by Arab designers to see what we mean.
Once again, Elie Saab – the godfather of Middle Eastern couture – set the bar extraordinarily high. His dazzling ode to the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí mimicked the modernist’s facades with magnificent 3D structures. With one of the best “bridal” looks of the couture season, Saab secured his spot as the region’s most evocative designer.
The swan has been preserved in the modern lexicon thanks in large part to the ballet, but Georges Hobeika added his perspective to the mix for Fall 2018 Couture by dedicating his collection to the elegant creature. With swans embroidered onto some looks and feathers sprouting from nearly every surface, Hobeika’s collection was as serene and beautiful as they come.
The va-va-voom of Georges Chakra’s vibrant and colorful collection for Fall 2018 Couture was owed in large part to the cabaret-esque attitude of his looks. With tulle flying every which way on some looks, kicky beaded skirts, and flouncy minidresses, these are clothes that any socialite would love to take for a spin on the dance floor.
Inspired by the czarinas of Imperial Russia, Zuhair Murad spared no expense when it came to upholstering his dazzling gowns with acres of elaborate crystal beading and intense embroidery that took thousands of hours to create. A militaristic aspect also ran through the collection, evidenced by masculine double-breasted jackets and black velvet suits trimmed with red and gold.
Maison Rabih Kayrouz
There is no one on the couture calendar who does things quite like Rabih Kayrouz. Committed to marching to the beat of his own drum, the designer showed on the official Haute Couture calendar, but chose to present his Spring/Summer 2019 collection. Through unique craftsmanship, the draping, folding, and vibrant color combinations of his collection really popped on the runway.
For Fall 2018 Couture, Lebanese designer Ziad Nakad wowed us with extravagant embellishment that created intricate patterns and textures on the surface of beautiful, nearly-naked gowns. Dripping with sequins, feathers, fringe, tassels, and more, the gowns were hypnotizing as they moved down the runway.
Rami Kadi stepped up the drama of his presentation at Fall 2018 Couture with a cinematic slew of looks inspired by the Aztec divinity Ometeotl. Holographic sequins, crystal-encrusted corsets, dazzling silver-trimmed ball skirts, and OTT tuxedo blazers really brought the dazzle and shine to a collection that was stellar – even without all those bells and whistles.
From Cardi B’s extravagant gown at the 2018 Grammy Awards to Deepika Padukone’s hot-pink tulle fantay dress at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Beirut-based couturier Ashi Studio is really having a moment. Marvelous sculptural silhouettes and jaw-dropping embellishment made this Fall 2018 Couture collection one of our favorites of the entire season. And, yes, we are factoring Valentino into that equation.