BEIRUT: North African hammam met Seattle circa 1992 at Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s fall-winter 2015 fashion show Sunday afternoon. Lebanese ready-to-wear designer Rabih Kayrouz presented a collection during Paris Fashion Week based on the burnous, a hooded, wool cloak found in North African countries. With fabric and pattern choices, Kayrouz turned that traditional garb into Moroccan grunge with lots of plaid and deep, hoodie-like pockets.
Burnouses are often associated with Berber tribal dress, and the cloaks were incorporated into colonial military uniforms in parts of North Africa. Long and woolen, they make a super-warm winter piece not so different from a wool trench coat. In Kayrouz’s collection, the contemporary women’s renditions had large pockets and oversized hoods and were in deep burgundy, Sherpa white, charcoal and a textured gold finale.
Kayrouz showed a series of cropped burnouses, which looked like high-end hoodies, some complete with zipped-up fronts. Other looks by Kayrouz adopted elements of Arab dress, the most startling of which was an oversized hooded scarf worn like a balaclava.
The designer incorporated shawls and scarves into most of his looks; he wrapped them around loose-fitting tunics and turned them into dresses with fringed edges. One dress had the look of a loose Salafist tunic with deconstructed seams.
The grunge came out with those cropped burnous hoodies, one in a rich winter floral pattern and others in white and a Sherpa-textured navy. Adding to the hint of ’90s alternative rock, a grunge-worthy navy plaid featured big in his tunic-style dresses and tops. And the models were shaggy haired with smudged black eye makeup and white and blue socks dressing down their pointed golden booties.
The designer is known for his highly architectural pieces. For the past two seasons, he’s been experimenting with skirts made from open pleats that move to their own whims. This collection saw an evolution of that knack for fluid skirt construction. Many skirts were made from four panels or had multiple slits in the front and back or sides.
Besides these skirts, architecture showed through in a pair of ruched, poufy sleeves on a plaid dress, square-cut shift shirts and a pocket detail that took on many forms. Several cocktail dresses incorporated an open pocket in the midsection, and long rectangular pockets added some geometry to the front of a navy dress.