Elie Saab is a Lebanese fashion designer and, as many others do, he loves taking inspiration from his fatherland.
For his Spring 2007 couture show he based his collection on “the colors of dawn over Beirut” and his compatriots’ ability “to make beautiful things in the face of adversity.”
Lebanon, officially known as the Lebanese Republic, is the smallest recognized country on the entire mainland Asian continent. Because of its location between the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland, it is characterized by a diverse population – composed of different ethnicities and religions.
Being taken as an inspiration for the Spring 2007 collection is not a chance: indeed the country had recently come out from the Lebanon War, a 34-day military conflict (started in July 2006) between Hezbollah Paramilitary Forces and the Israel Defense Forces. The fight ended in September: presenting the relative fashion show in January was a way for Mr Saab to refuse any setback.
Elie Saab collection
Elie Saab collection
Elie Saab collection
The show was mainly composed by evening dresses having different lenghts and shapes, but all very feminine and sensual. Big volumes, soft shapes and embellishments characterized this collection.
The most relevant colours were white, black, lilac, turquoise, gold and silver but all in very light shades. The materials used were semi-transparent and fluffy alongside shiny and embroidered ones. Crystals, bows and rouches are used to finish the look.
As declared on Vogue runway, the designer was still learning: indeed this was one of his first collections, however it was very appreciated by the public.
Nowadays the brand is well known worlwide and its garments are frequently worn by celebrities.
His main workshop is in Lebanon, with additional workshops in Italy (Milan and Paris). The first atelier, which was founded in the early 1980s, specialized in Bridal Couture that is still very successful.
Even worldwide-renowned brands sometimes use cultures as their main inspiration for the collections they create: indeed this is what happened with Dior many years ago, under the direction of fashion designer John Galliano.
It was January 2004 and the Spring Couture collection came out in Paris, France. The idea for the show this time came from Egypt and more specifically the Valley of the Kings, Cairo, Aswan and Luxor.
As reported on Vogue Runway “The result was a gilded fantasia that used every treasure available to the couture ateliers—gold leaf, lapis lazuli–hued snake, silver lamé, coral beading—to reference everything from Nefertiti and King Tut to hieroglyphs and tomb paintings.”
The fitting reminded the ones of sarcophagis and the shape obtained in the end was what Galliano called The sphinx line which is elongated, tight, attenuated, elegant.
The main characteristics of the garments were an eccessive use of gold and silver as colours, big volumes and overblown silhouettes.
The final look was furthermore completed with numerous embroideries such as crystal-encrusted jewelry and huge headdresses while models wore notable hairstyles and face painting for make-up.
Many celebrities were also attending the event – including American actress Sarah Jessica Parker – and considering the public’s amazed reaction the collection proved to be a success.
Time has passed away since that show, however it should be remembered as an example of achievement because of John’s ability to dig into the past, find a major culture and bring it back to life by creating something new.
Nowadays the brand is working with Italian fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who was announced to be the creative director in July 2016 and who made her debut last October in Paris with the Fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection. She has studied in IED (Rome), she has worked for Valentino many years and she is actually “the first woman to lead the creative side in the label’s 69-year history”.
Hussein Chalayan is a British/Turkish Cypriot fashion designer, globally known for being an innovator. The huge success he has nowadays mainly comes from the meaningful concepts laying behind his collections and his ability to create products that are unique in the market.
Born in Nicosia in 1970, he soon moves to London and takes the British citizenship. After studying at Warwickshire School of Arts, he manages to enter the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (also graduating there).
He immediately gets noticed for his creativity and starts being rewarded with many prizes. His main inspirations are contemporary society and the two different cultures in the middle of whom he grew up. However architecture, philosophy and technology are other important stimulus.
The designer’s career is also characterized by numerous collaborations and partnerships with brands such as Yoox, Swarowsky, Puma but also celebrities like singer Lady Gaga and avant-garde artist Bjork.
Today, I want to present here one of his shows – influenced by the Turkish Cypriot heritage – which is Spring Summer 1998.
The collection is intended as a statement on the oppression of Muslim women and displays models wearing chadors of varying lengths – from fully clothed to totally nude.
On 21st April 1998, the New York Times states: “Few designers can move an audience to tears — they might bring people to their feet or bore them to distraction — but clothes are rarely so poignant that they elicit crying. Hussein Chalayan proved he possessed such power with his spring 1998 collection in England last season, a provocative exploration of Islamic women’s place in society using the chador as the fulcrum.”
To the many critics he received he replied: “It wasn’t really supposed to be offensive. It was supposed to illustrate a particular kind of position. This was about the cultural loss of self.“