The influential and talented Zuhair Murad might hail from Lebanon, but that hasn’t stopped him from being dubbed the “King of Italian Catwalks” by his peers. With an eye for fusing both European and Middle Eastern aesthetics to elegant and extraordinary ends, Murad has become a couturier to royalty and celebrities around the world. When Sofia Vergara showed up at the Emmys in an exquisitely crafted, figure-skimming gown covered in dazzling mint sequins, Murad’s handiwork was evident.
His couture expertise leads him to spending hundreds of hours around one detail: embroidery, hand beading, and cutting the perfect silhouette. He aims to dazzle and glamourize, and the proof of his success comes from the loyal patronage he’s earned from stars the likes of Kristen Stewart, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jennifer Lopez. When Murad paid a visit to Dubai in October for an exclusive fashion show presented by Saks Fifth Avenue, we were there to talk to the designer and to capture some behind-the-scenes images before the show began. Read on for our full interview with Zuhair Murad below.
How do you think being Lebanese has affected you as a designer? How did it influence your creations, design inspirations, and work ethics?
Lebanese people, childhood memories, smells, traditions, and so many other factors have affected my imagination. Nature and landscape, where tones and colors blend to create wonderful sceneries throughout the year, serve as a great source of inspiration for me. The natural vibrancy of the city creates the most unique and unparalleled sceneries I’ve ever seen. The fusion of a cosmopolitan European know-how and a rich Middle Eastern cultural heritage are ever present within the lifestyle here. But most importantly, elegance is a Lebanese lifestyle. Everybody is into fashion and on trend and women are beautiful and so stylish, so it comes as no surprise that every season my collections celebrate feminine beauty.
We hear that you’re always working and rarely travel. Where do you get your inspiration?
On the contrary, I travel a lot but for very short periods. Those trips, where I’m exposed to different cultures and landscapes, are my sources of inspiration. I can be inspired walking down different streets in various cities around the world. I never expect to be inspired, but I always end up being. The things in life that we don’t perceive as tangible, like dreams and fantasies, inspire me a lot.
What is it about the culture of the region that draws Middle Eastern women to couture pieces?
The general culture of the region, where people celebrate often and organize huge parties and festivities, means that women want to look unique. Moreover, Middle Eastern women tend to be very sophisticated; they love glamour, seduction, and luxury, and like to be distinguished from others. They are always on the lookout for something new in fashion, and they want unique and singular gowns for their occasions. This is what couture offers them.
All of the women in the world are my ambassadors. Each is unique in her own way.
Is there a particular style or look of Zuhair Murad dress that seems to appeal to the Middle Eastern woman? What details do they look for?
Middle Eastern women want to look elegant, sumptuous, and contemporary, which is why they always search for sophisticated looks with refined details. Perfect cuts that perfectly mold their silhouette are a must to look dazzling.
Who would be the perfect ambassador for you?
All of the women in the world are my ambassadors. Each is unique in her own way, with her individual sense of charisma and feminine characteristics.
Your creations are very feminine yet edgy at the same time. Are these the traits of the woman you create your dresses for?
My style is luxurious and ultra-feminine. Always a strong silhouette embellished with ornate and intricate designs that will guarantee a red carpet show stopper every time.