BEIRUT: Rabih Kayrouz’ collection of casual summer wears put the emphasis on lightweight fabric, fluttering, shifting and floating down the runway at Paris’ pret-a-porter fashion week, which wrapped up a month of fashion shows across Western capitals. Of the shows from New York to Milan, the bulk of Lebanon’s fashion designers large and small pick Paris to unveil their seasonal collections. The past 10 days have been a whirlwind for locally bred designers, from celebrity couturiers like Kayrouz and Elie Saab (featured in The Daily Star earlier this week) to aspiring young people still spending most of their time in Lebanon.
Each season, Lebanese designers show vastly eclectic tastes. Some use the ready-to-wear season to put out demi-couture eveningwear lines, while others – like Kayrouz and local RTW-lover Milia M – focus on casual with a conceptual twist.
At Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, Kayrouz’ line of trousers, tops and causal dresses rejected anything formfitting, with even built-in belts hovering loose around the waists of the models. The effect put the focus on bits of drapery, loose geometric pieces and rigid, starchy cotton dresses, rather than on the body underneath.
In some cases, Kayrouz walked a fine line in letting the clothes hang loose, careful not to let waistlines and lengths appear simply the wrong size. He added a subtle sexiness through details like rectangular eyelets and semi-sheer whites that offered a frosted window to the silhouette beneath.
Kayrouz, who over the past several seasons has been moving his fashion house solely to ready-to-wear, showed that he’s not done experimenting with a few attention grabbing elements from previous collections.
He carried over and reimagined architectural details such as untethered skirt pleats and metal thread. For example, the open pleat of fall-winter 2013-14 became a random, fluttering rectangle whipping around like kite tails. They also hung from skirts like the unfinished pinning on an atelier mannequin and made the difference on basic square-frame dresses and maxiskirts by blooming out in cleanly tailored tufts.
His Michelin-man sleeves, made sturdy from metal thread, were also a carryover from his winter 2013-14 collection and a light cotton version of his wintertime knit sweaters.
Since 2010, when Kayrouz began ready-to-wear, the Paris-based designer has found a rhythm without becoming unsurprising. Style.com’s review noted the presence of pomegranate insignia embossed in a lightweight jacquard, a literal sign of Kayrouz’ ascent into the business of off-the-rack clothes.
Dina Jsr, who’s couture and demi-couture RTW saw some success on France’s red carpets this year, also put the focus on fabric.
Her summer creations, which were generally more complicated and ornate than previous RTW collections, were inspired by the movement of water. She incorporated wavy, organic shapes in several ways, either through layers of loose fabric that created natural movement or through defined architectural structure.
She used the same methods to reflect inspiration like fish fins and scale textures.
Milia MTangerine saturated Milia Maroun’s collection for her self-named brand Milia M. Her usual minimalism took a colorful turn with summer lilac and silver. She also incorporated dressy shorts and pants with a trendy low-cut crotch, a subtle and structured modernization of the sherwal.
In contrast to Milia’s somber and very casual winter collection, summer 2014 is a vibrant line of workwear with men’s tailored coats and office-appropriate jumpsuits.
DoughDough, by Lebanese designer Dima Kassis, was all about the neckline for summer spring 2014, as she introduced a debut line of chunky, metallic accessories.
Kassis drew inspiration for Dough’s summer line from the Moors of Spain and their architectural heritage. A laser-cut print drew from the elaborate wood engravings in the Alhambra palaces. Her collection was a conceptual shout out to her Middle Eastern-European roots and incorporated capelike asymmetrical hemlines.
The centerpiece was of course the jewelry, which contrasted the delicate crepe dresses as armorlike collars. In one of her strongest looks, a beige shirt-dress revealed a thick bronze necklace that looked like a chainmail undershirt.