Some like it haute: Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad come up trumps in Paris

A model presents a creation by Zuhair Murad during the 2018-2019 Fall/Winter Haute Couture collection fashion show in Paris, on July 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Some like it haute: Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad come up trumps in Paris

  • The event, which featured shows by 34 designers in total, celebrates all things haute, widely considered to be the highest form of fashion
  • Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad displayed their latest collections

DUBAI: One week, two Lebanese design heavyweights. Paris Haute Couture Week (Fall-Winter 2018), which ran from July 1 to July 5, saw two of the region’s most-acclaimed fashion designers, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, displaying their latest collections, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

The event, which featured shows by 34 designers in total, celebrates all things haute, widely considered to be the highest form of fashion. And according to Mimi Raad — image consultant at MBC Group and curator of the Instagram page @mimiraadstyle — this edition really went back to the 160-year-old roots of the art form.

“Haute couture was originally all about the custom-made, impeccably fitted dress, where the subtle yet elaborate craft is almost invisible,” she explained. “Lately, it’s been equivalent more to ball gowns, which are too easy a terrain to let the imagination run. But (this edition of Paris Haute Couture Week) marked a real effort to return to dressmaking. Sartorial prowess and couture were glorified. Two major qualities in couture were observed; rigor and restraint.”

“Couture is all about making beautiful outfits that make women beautiful and refined,” Raad continued. And that’s certainly something that could apply to Saab’s Fall 2018 line — and the Lebanese designer’s work in general.

Saab has often stated that, for him, the woman always comes first, which goes some way to explaining why he continues to secure the business of numerous high-profile personalities, including Queen Rania of Jordan, Jenifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie and Emily Blunt. In fact, he’s been dubbed the ‘King of the Red Carpet,’ and became the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar winner: Halle Berry in 2002.

Shown at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Saab’s latest collection brought something new and edgy to the proceedings — a couture collection inspired by renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.

Entitled “Of Forms and Light,” his show explored “the relationship between light, natural forms and structures.”

Key looks in the collection come in the form of tailored suits #OfFormsAndLight

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld) on


“Saab sailed from Beirut all the way across the Mediterranean and anchored in Barcelona for inspiration,” Raad said. “His embroidered ball gowns recalled the ceramic fantasy of Gaudí.

“Throughout this collection — with the brocade and gazar cocktails dresses, exaggerated collars, abundance of ruffles — he references Gothic shapes, and the arches of the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Each piece, from fitted gowns to full skirts was a piece of wearable art.”

She continues: “Saab is known for romantic silhouettes, with rich textiles and intricate details, the couture’s core. True to his style, he delivered delicate gold embroidery and swathes of sequins, and that’s his signature fairy-tale aesthetic.”

However, there were some designs that were a little too much for the fashion expert: “[I wasn’t a fan of the] ‘ruffle-mania,’” she said. “I couldn’t help but prefer the looks that were the most restrained.”

Elsewhere, Murad was channeling Imperial Russia in his fall-winter couture collection; think textures and patterns from the period and a nod to military suits.

Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio opened the show — her first time walking for the designer — in a plunging black, red and gold Tudor-style with dramatic cape.

“Murad transported us to a grand ball in St. Petersburg with regal colors, heavy fabrics and Fabergé motifs,” said Raad. “Every look was lavish. It wasn’t all about the balls, tsarinas and Fabergé eggs, though, Murad widened his scope, adding masculine elements borrowed from military uniforms, twisted to enhance femininity.”

Raad was a fan of the color palette Murad presented this month.

“The dark palette along with elaborate embroideries, and floral and arabesque motifs applied in bronze, gold and silver, transported us to a mysterious world,” she said. “From bright blue, rich red accents, to pale hues of green, grey, blue and ivory, the colors served as a luxurious backdrop for elaborate beadwork.

“Rich fabrics like velvet, duchesse satin, lace and chiffon were used in a harmonious palette,” she continued. “With this profusion of opulence, this collection looked more womanly than girly.”

Most fashion media agreed that both collections were beautiful, presenting something for every exclusive client of theirs. All that remains to be seen is who is going to be walking the red carpet or attending events in one of Saab’s or Murad’s creations this awards’ season.

What’s clear, though, is that one of the keys to the pair’s success is that they’re never afraid to push boundaries and create something new.

And sometimes, it’s okay to go big.

“I guess, for some designers, more is more in couture,” Raad concluded.


Ciara marches to the beat in Zuhair Murad gown

Updated 09 December 2018
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Ciara marches to the beat in Zuhair Murad gown

DUBAI: R&B superstar Ciara took to Instagram to show off a dazzling, Imperial Russian Army-inspired gown by Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad on Saturday night, which she wore to a party at the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.
The “Level Up” singer was in town to perform at the inaugural Ball of Arabia, hosted by Vogue Arabia magazine, and took to the stage wearing an edgy black outfit, with her hair in a sleek ponytail.
The star posted a video on Instagram where she shows off her moves with two of her back-up dancers in the background before bursting into laughter offscreen. The “Like A Boy” singer also posted a snap in which she glowed in a silvery blue ensemble by Murad, complete with an Imperial Russian Army-inspired jacket with a bow at the neckline and sequin and beadwork worthy of a Romanov princess.

“Wearing Arabic designer @zuhairmuradofficial to the inaugural Ball of Arabia,” she captioned the series of three shots.
The dazzling outfit hails from Zuhair Murad’s Couture Fall-Winter 2018/19 line.
The 33-year-old star also posted a video in which she dances on a bed in the 7-star hotel that recently underwent refurbishing to restore it to its gold-and-blue glory.
After her stay in the UAE, Ciara is expected to head back to the US where she will host a star-studded New Year’s Eve party in Hollywood during which The Chainsmokers, Dua Lipa and Charlie Puth will perform, among a host of other famous names.
Despite her busy schedule, the singer recently told Wonderland magazine’s winter 2018/2019 issue that she would like to have more children.
Ciara — who has Future, four, with her ex-partner, and Sienna, 19 months, with her husband Russell Wilson — would love to add to her family one day but also has a lot of “business goals” she’d like to achieve, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.
She said: “It’d be really cool to do tours with stadiums. And there’s a lot of business goals that I want to accomplish ... hopefully there will be more kids, for sure. Well, you know, I got time! I’m a woman of ambition on a mission, so when the timing is right, of course!”
And the hitmaker feels like she is a “better woman” because of her husband Russell and said that is what marriage should be about.
“Oh, absolutely. I do feel that I’m a better woman because of him. Obviously, I have my own vision for myself, but my husband definitely makes me better and that’s what marriage is about. You both make each other better,” she told the magazine.