Why does the audience rejoice – literally and rapturously – when a Maison Rabih Kayrouz collection walks the runway? Why do women spin exultant odes to his clothing? His cut? His tailoring? What is it about the designer’s creative output that so captivates and moves his devotees?
On their surface, Rabih Kayrouz’s pieces look fairly simple, bereft of elaborate embellishment and extravagant accoutrements. They are generously cut, brightly hued, and cleanly tailored. Yet, here is a man whose designs are so lauded that he has recently been made an official member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, a governing body whose strident requirements ensure that only 17 fashion houses in the world are considered worthy of official placement on the haute couture calendar. He has been laboring as a guest member, but now he boasts the rarefied co-sign of the Chambre itself – and they don’t just hand that out to anybody.
What is reflected in Kayrouz’s output is the mind of someone who truly ‘gets’ what women want to wear, how they want clothing to fall on their bodies, and how they want it to move. Those generous cuts and clean tailoring provide for lines and movement so graceful that it becomes radiantly clear why the realm of dance so strongly influences his work. It also reflects someone who respects color theory and can pull together head-to-toe fuchsia or citron or emerald green in a way that feels neither ostentatious nor gauche – but downright desirable instead. The respect towards women and what they want is also clear in his casting, which includes older women like “silver” model Mino Sassy and choreographer Blanca Li.
Perhaps that is his secret; slow fashion that lasts a lifetime and survives the whims of fashion’s more fickle edicts.
His Fall 2019 ready-to-wear show, which appeared on the Spring 2019 Couture calendar but was singularly not a couture collection, opened with a crisp white blouse with open-worked sleeves tucked into a pair of navy pinstriped trousers with a side paneling that outlined the flank. What followed was a quiet revolution of thoughtful menswear separates, sophisticated knits, elegant robes, tiered gowns, and sublime woven dresses that are all comfortable, stylish, and wearable for any season during the foreseeable future.
In his collection, you’ll find the perfect trench, a beautifully cut trouser, sensational shirting, and gowns with just enough curious details to stand out from the rest of the red carpet crowd. Everything is concisely edited and considerately designed. Truthfully, all of his work shuns trends and is future-proof in a way that assures longevity of wear. Perhaps that is his secret; slow fashion that lasts a lifetime and survives the whims of fashion’s more fickle edicts.