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 long-standing 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 best Spring 2019 Couture collections by Arab designers to see what we mean.
Elie Saab is – and always will be – the leader of the pack, not just in the realm of Arab designers, but for the entire universe of red carpet in general. For Spring 2019 Couture, his passionate ode to the Mediterranean sea, which lies just outside of his atelier in Beirut, was elevated by a symphony of seaside metaphors, glittering embellishments, and stunning watercolor pastels that echoed a beachy sunset.
Decadent designs, extravagant embellishment, and 18th century silhouettes united Georges Hobeika’s Spring 2019 Couture collection, which he dedicated to the woman who launched the realm of couture: Marie Antoinette. From her pastoral looks recalling days spent at the Petit Trianon – which were echoed in feminine fabrics and sweet prints – to her more extravagant costuming, the infamous queen’s personality was the crowning centerpiece to this jaw-dropping collection.
For Spring 2019 Couture, Georges Chakra played to his strengths with a colorful collection of sculptural silhouettes alongside dense embellishment that was meant to resemble armor. His women were feminine, but this time around, there was an aloof edginess to their beauty.
Inspired by the ocean and all of her splendor, Zuhair Murad upholstered his mesmerizing Spring 2019 Couture looks with waves, scalloped shell beading, and other aquatic symbols. A variety of blue hues reflected the depths and shallows of the sea, while other design elements recalled coral reefs and the mythical mermaid.
Maison Rabih Kayrouz
Although Maison Rabih Kayrouz has garnered the official co-sign of the Chambre de Syndicale de la Haute Couture when they made Rabih Kayrouz the 17th official member of the haute couture calendar (he had been showing as an invited guest until this point), he chose to show a Fall/Winter 2019 ready-to-wear collection during the Spring 2019 Couture line-up instead. Always one to do it his own way, the designer’s collection proved why women love to wear his clothes – the ensembles were relaxed, impeccably tailored, and oh-so-beautiful.
For Spring 2019 Couture, Ashi Studio’s Letters from Margaret collection embraced vivid colors and beautifully constructed architectural silhouettes that bended references to the 1950s and 1990s. It was a stunning outing for the Lebanese label, taking its aesthetic into a bold, exhilarating new direction.
Rami Al Ali
Rami Al Ali’s 17-piece collection for the Spring 2019 Couture season packed a mighty punch. In the folkloric traditions of Al Andalusia, the talented designer symbolized matadors and flamenco dancers in a fiery palette of searing crimson hues alongside cool metallics. Elements that imitated Trajes de Luces – the iconic matador’s costume – were traced onto the clothes by way of stunning crystal embroidery, while metal chains replaced the traditional tassel. This evocative, pulse-racing collection proved why Rami Al Ali’s star is on the rise.
Azzi & Osta
Relative newcomers to the haute couture schedule, George Azzi and Assaad Osta of Azzi & Osta, cut their teeth as Assistant Designers at Elie Saab’s maison in Beirut. With a co-sign from the godfather of Lebanese couture himself, Saab’s mentees have gone on to launch their own couture house, and their techniques and craftsmanship are exquisite. For Spring 2019 Couture, their presentation entitled “Memoirs from the Silk Road” took a metaphorical journey to the ancient trade network that once connected the East and West. Done in sculpted silk stains, organzas, and satin duchesse, the collection featured amazing pleated details and unique silhouettes.