by Starr Dalton Lebanese designer Elie Saab launched his Beirut-based fashion label when he was 18 years old with a team of 15 employees. At first, he specialized in bridal couture making wedding dresses and gowns using rich fabrics, lace, detailed embroidery, pearls, crystals and silk threads. His reputation grew from dressing the women in his neighborhood, and was soon enhanced by high society women who began sporting his designs.
Elie Saab’s style fuses western and eastern culture. He uses materials such as taffeta, organza, noble and satin paired with more fluid and light fabrics.
Saab was the first non-Italian designer to become a member of the Italian Camera Nazionale della Moda, and in 1997, showed his first collection outside Lebanon in Rome. In 1998, he started ready-to-wear in Milan, and in the same year, he held a fashion show in Monaco which was attended by Princess Stéphanie of Monaco.
In 1999, Queen Rania of Jordan wore Elie Saab for her enthronement. One of his dresses—somewhat less demure, presumably, than Queen Rania’s, and thickly embroidered with emeralds and diamonds—was reportedly sold for $2.4 million.
He became an overnight success after he became the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar winner, Halle Berry, in 2002. Berry wore a burgundy gown by Saab to the 2002 Academy Awards when she won for Best Actress.
In May 2003, the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture invited him to become a member, and he showed his first haute couture collection in Paris in July 2003. His first ready-to-wear collection in Paris was the Spring-Summer 2006 collection, and Paris is now his permanent ready-to-wear runway.
In 2010, Saab dressed 102 international celebrities for key global events. His creations can be found all over the world, with boutiques located in Beirut, Dubai, Doha, Paris, London, geneva, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Elie Saab has 100 retail outlets all over the world. His designs are sold in 42 countries. In 2011, Elie Saab launched his first fragrance “Le Parfum” which became an overnight bestseller in 15 countries, including the UAE.
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