Lebanese red-carpet pleasers in Paris couture week

Lebanese red-carpet pleasers are increasingly filling the gaps in the haute couture calendar left by French houses pulling out of fashion's most extravagant manifestation.

While Givenchy decided this week to stage a scaled down presentation to a privileged few, Lebanon's Elie Saab, Georges Chakra, Basil Soda, Georges Hobeika, and the house of Rabih Kayrouz all opted for catwalk shows.

Only Elie Saab is a member of the elite club and Rabih Kayrouz a guest, the others showing outside the official programme, but their collections are all the more welcome as only three big French names - Chanel, Dior and Jean-Paul Gaultier - and Italians Giorgio Armani and Valentino were presenting runway shows for autumn-winter 2011.

Lebanese designers are naturally drawn to Paris like moths to a flame, Basil Soda told AFP. "In Lebanon we call France our mother. The cultural influence is very strong."

But Soda, Chakra and Saab draw their clientele from all over the world, notably across the Atlantic, and among royalty. The Crown Princess of Sweden wore Saab twice last month on her wedding day.

Emily Blunt, Sandra Bullock, Kate Perry, Scarlett Johannsson and Helen Mirren are among the A-list actresses and celebrities to have chosen a Lebanese design for their red carpet moments.

Chakra dedicated his collection on Monday to silver screen goddesses: "I was thinking of Rita Hayworth, Greta Garbo, 1950s Hollywood glamour - at times like this we need to dream for 15 minutes."

He showed sumptuous ballgowns with lots of whorls and bows, designed "so the dress dances as the wearer moves."

He used lots of gold "flattering to a skin that is slightly tanned" but avoided bling, for example by adding a sheer top layer of iridescent violent and yellow tulle, or combining gold and silver in a cloqued lame.

A crimson lacquered satin looked like deep pile velvet, while marron glace shot satin had hues of blue and green.

One cocktail frock twinkled with fringes of pearly sequins, another had a top embroidered with crimson flowers and flounced sunray-pleated skirts.

Ahead of his show on Tuesday Soda told AFP his collection was designed for "strong, confident women, who have travelled a lot, but are also inaccessible, idolised."

He favoured mostly neutral colours - black, grey, white and flesh tones, with flashes of zircon - and a structured but feminine silhouette, with lots of big shoulders and emphasised waists.

There was very little stand-alone embroidery, the decoration being part of the overall concept, as with his grand entrance black organza ballgown with its myriad of zippers snaking round, dictating its shape.

Corsets, jackets and frocks were all complicated constructions of grey python, lace, gros grain ribbons, strass and zippers, all intermingled.

Instead of draping, he used very precise layering to achieve a trompe l'oeil effect, "which is much more challenging and labour intensive."

One of his favourite pieces this season is a sleeveless cocktail frock consisting in layer upon layer of micro-pleated flesh-coloured organza, with a few jewels nestling among them.

A veritable tour-de-force, it took 600 hours' labour to make and has an extraordinary tactile sensuality akin to animal fur.

Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz present their collections on Wednesday.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

    £13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there