Battle of the Lebanese Designers - Zuhair Murad

Arab artistians have been making a distinguishable mark in the couture world for a while now. Ever since that famous comical scene in Clueless where Alicia Silverstone is held at gunpoint and kneeling on the floor protesting “But this is an Alaïa!…it’s like this totally important designer!!!”, their skill and attention to detail have not gone amiss.

Lebanese designers in particular, have a unique sense of craftsmanship which they bring to the table in terms of surface ornamentation. In my opinion, they take inspiration from the femininty and sophistication of the more classic French couture silhouettes yet they add a twist by combining their own interpretation of Eastern influences.

Examples of these are intricate embroirderies, sequin, mirror and crystal work and the general drama of theatrical shapes which are drawn from their own Middle Eastern inspired cultures. The delicate balance of this East-Meets-West design philosophy creates an artistic smorgasbord of textures, embellishments and a varied opulent colour palette that packs a punch.

The combination of these several design attributes sucessfully pulled off with a sense of harmony makes the whole Lebanese look recognisable and they consistently prove they can hold their own alongside the likes of Dior and Chanel at Paris Fashion Week. This is not an easy feat to do, considering that the Lebanese do not have nearly as much of a history in couture as the French do, and yet despite this, they are ever growing and fast becoming household names in Hollywood with starlets such as Katy Perry sporting Basil Soda, Blake Lively in Zuhair Murad and Milla Jovovich donned in Elie Saab to name a few.

Blake Lively in a phenomenal grey Zuhair Murad on the set of Gossip Girl

This week the highlight is Zuhair Murad’s couture show 2012. I love the combination of beautiful flattering drapes in soft chiffons in some ensembles, contrasted with the odd sprinkle of modern metallic materials – pulled in such a way that it is über sleek, contemporary and not at all clunky.

I love this catsuit for example – it has a very slick Farah Fawcett in the original Charlie’s Angels look. Notice how the shade of gold is strong enough to make a statement yet not a tacky yellow either. It’s almost like a rose gold, in parts, complemented with stronger ochre based shades. This two-toned look paired with unique looking rope-like embroidery has an extremely dynamic look overall. From the metallic colours to the loose hair paired with that strut that looks like she means buisiness!!! Killer!

This look is more old Hollywood. I adore the champagne tulle paired with black lace on top. Nudes plus black lace – you can almost never go wrong with that look!!! Well …on second thought… you can if you pick a really tacky lace with too much/not enough negative space in it … but as per usual Zuhair has just the right ratio of lace to negative space. He deliberately uses appliqué work to highlight and flatter the female form emphasising the hourglass shape in an arrow like patterns on certain parts of the gown giving a fabulously streamlined elongated look. I love the fishtail too, and the how the lace eventually dissolves into nothingness before it reaches the end avoiding an overpowered look. He knows exactly when to quit.

Sleek and slick and siren-esque all the way – this simple bronze dress is made entirely out of metallic materials – im not sure if it’s type of Lamé fabric or tiny sequins/ beadwork but whatever it is, this gown is a great example of how a gown can sparkle in all it’s glory yet still appear very simple and elegant at the same time. Notice the draped detail at the waist –further showcasing a woman’s best asset.

Last but not least this strapless dusky pink number is very romantic and I love the subtle bejewelled crystal parts of it peeking through the draping – giving a subtle glimmer in certain light. With the patched criss cross technique he’s used all the way through the torso and hips, this one has a beautiful sculpted feel to it. Trés chic!

More to come on other Lebanese designers soon …. What are your personal faves? Would love to hear about them below!