Fashion designers can take anything from a beautiful painting to their favorite landscape and transform it into their latest collection. In a special exclusive for Lebanon’s The Daily Star, Elie Saab shares his story and inspiration behind his latest collection: Beirut.
Elie’s collection had everyone buzzing at Paris Fashion Week where he debuted his moving tribute to Beirut, the city where he was born, and the city that inspires his art.
“Beirut: Chasing a Dream”
A beautiful memory of Beirut often visits me in a dream. A loving, giving and tolerant Beirut. A glamorous one too. A beautiful memory that never ceased to inspire me – that inspired this collection. This is a tribute to the city that I love. My Beirut. Looking back at the eventful history of Lebanon, through its flourishing periods and its downfalls, I feel hopeful, I feel grateful. Vivid images overtake me: the golden age of the ’60s. The typical elegance of the Beirut woman. Distressing times quickly forgotten. The glorious reconstruction of the ’90s. Ups and downs. A dream that gets lost, sometimes, before emerging again, always stronger. And immortal. When these images overtake me I know for certain that the Beirut of my dreams will forever be alive, magnetic, festive and charming. I know for certain that I want to contribute to its glory. And when I close my eyes and think of Beirut, I know for certain that this dream is mine.
When I sit back and reflect on my journey, I’m always transported to the city where I was born, somewhere between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. Back then, Beirut seemed to be constantly adorned for a party that would never end. I was instantly enthralled by beauty and wanted to ensure it remained untainted. To this day, I’m still enchanted by a clear vision: my mother in an evening gown. Curved at the waist. Flared like a corolla. Tulips printed on silk. A vision that fueled my flare as a designer. And with every new collection I conceived, the striking image of my mother in this tulip print silk dress reappeared endlessly.
These memories and Beirut were the steppingstone of my passion for design. It was these things, along with the courage, the grace and the elegance of the women of my city, that influenced the person I am today. And if there were to be a message behind my couture collection, it would be: Thank you.
Here are some of my favorite pieces.