BEIRUT: Like sachets of potpourri, pockets of tulle filled with silk flowers bubbled from the skirt of Sana Ayoub’s last evening gown “Exit 15,” a dress the designer described as the signature piece in her first fashion show.
“It’s a combination of lots of colors,” Ayoub told The Daily Star after her show. “It’s fun, it’s joyful, it’s very sensual.”
A skin-baring sweetheart bodice in fuchsia paired with this unusual, three-dimensional skirt sums up Ayoub’s style, one that starts with simple dress forms and spices them up with whimsical detail.
The debut designer hosted a show of demi couture last week at Centrale Restaurant in Gemmayzeh. It was her first show since returning to Beirut with a master’s in fashion design from London’s Instituto Marangoni. For two years, Ayoub has focused on made-to-order gowns, and Thursday’s collection launched her fashion house into the seasonal collection cycle.
The show comprised a small runway with lighthearted theatrics. Models came down from an industrial lift and took a pit stop mid-catwalk to pose with various girly props.
The collection was inspired by a recent trip to India, where Ayoub experienced India’s festival of lights, called Diwali, a joyful holiday that celebrates the victory of light over darkness. In 15 looks, the collection featured the full spectrum of bright hues, mainly pinks, yellows and blues. Despite the embellishments, bouquets of delicate flowers, sequins, lace and ruffles, she showed a restraint uncustomary in the local fashion scene.
“They tend to overdo it with a lot of beads and a lot of embroidery,” said Ayoub, who has spent time studying the local market.
Ayoub said it took a while to find her personal voice, especially having started fashion design as a teenager at Lebanon’s Notre Dame University. “Now if I want to define my style it’s something simple, it will give this elegant feeling. But there is also something special in it because you have this artistic twist. It can be a small detail on the shoulder or on the hip.”
She’s also toned down the sex appeal in what she describes as “sexy chic.” That came through in her use of ankle-length skirts, quarter-length sleeves and deliberate cutouts to reveal what she understood to be a sexy, but sophisticated amount of flesh.
Ayoub has an aptitude for marketing her fledgling brand. She has one of the most sophisticated websites of any rising Lebanese designer, with updated sections on style news and attractive pages on styling advice.
As she talked about her brand, Ayoub called herself a rookie and that humility gives the young designer her charm.