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 longstanding maisons like Givenchy and Chanel – and they more than hold their own.
In fact, there are so many talented couture houses in the region that the Middle East 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. And each season, we are amazed to witness their growth and evolution. Take a closer look at the best Spring 2020 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 red carpet universe in general. For Spring 2020 Couture, Saab was influenced by the late 19th century Mexican dynasty and Chapultepec Castle where its aristocrats once lived. He was particularly inspired by the castle’s gilded, baroque interiors that were turned into embellished, embroidered motifs repeated throughout the collection.
Memories from a childhood spent on holiday on the Mediterranean informed Georges Hobeika’s dazzling Spring 2020 Couture collection. Glittering embellishment recalled the beaches of Sardinia, while other elements were tinged with the holiday mood, from fringe-trimmed hats and massive floral appliqués to delicately crocheted accents.
Some of the most powerful women in history inspired Zuhair Murad’s Spring 2020 Couture, and they happened to hail from Egypt. Nefertiti, Nefertari, Isis, and Berenice were honored in his powerful designs, which featured bejeweled breastplates, golden embellishment, and dramatic capes.
Maison Rabih Kayrouz
While it is important to note that Rabih Kayrouz is one of only 17 designers officially designed to show on the official Paris Haute Couture calendar, he always does his own thing. Instead of presenting a couture collection, he showed Fall/Winter 2020 ready-to-wear during the Spring 2020 Couture season, but his clothes are made to exacting couture-level standards. This time around, fluid silhouettes – like elegant ruched frocks – shared space on the runway with boxy suits and paillette-adorned dresses.
Rami Al Ali
Rami Al Ali’s gorgeous Spring 2020 Couture collection owed its finesse and finery to the orchid, the complicated flower that inspired his designs this season. For that reason, silhouettes that mimicked unfolded petals were used to maximum effect on gowns and jumpsuits alike, while other silhouettes were adorned in three-dimensional versions of the blossom.
In a sea of embellished, red carpet-worthy dresses, Ziad Nakad’s marvelously engineered fit construction is what set the Lebanese couturier apart during the Spring 2020 Couture season. Inspired by the lost city of Atlantis, a fantasy fiction unfurled on his runway, with shell-like details made from ruffle accents, oceanic hues, and mermaid silhouettes taking center stage.