Haute Couture

The 23 Best Modest Looks from the Spring/Summer 2022 Couture Season

The 23 Best Modest Looks from the Spring/Summer 2022 Couture Season

Ikram Abdi Omar for Antonio Grimaldi
The spring 2022 season was a big one for modest couture, with a large number of demure silhouettes finding their way on the Paris couture week runways and presentations.
Although an homage to Rome, Kim Jones’ collection for Fendi appeared to also have been influenced by the Arab world. Alongside the more obvious kaftans and abaya-like silhouettes, other dresses featured full sleeves, high necks, and lengthened skirts. At Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri offered modest clothing in various forms: from a suit with the house’s iconic Bar jacket to caped dresses and formal gowns. It also seemed important for Valentino to offer conservative pieces as it took upon itself to allow people of all shapes and sizes to see themselves in couture. Chanel’s take on modest dressing featured the classics such as the tweed suits, while at Viktor & Rolf, Dracula-inspired raised shoulders topped everything from suits to dresses. Modest evening and statement-making dresses came via Glenn Martens’ debut couture collection for Jean Paul Gaultier, including jacquard knit pieces, and gowns in bold shades of red and green. The concept was also championed at Italian designer Antonio Grimaldi’s show which not only opened with Somali hijabi model and former cover star Ikram Abdi Omar, but also cast her as the bride dressed in a modest wedding gown.
Scroll to see the best modest dresses from the Spring/Summer 2022 couture season.
Alexandre Vauthier
Jean Paul Gaultier
Viktor & Rolf
Ashi Studio
Giambattista Valli
Alex Mabille
Charles de Vilmorin
Christian Dior
Alexis Mabille
Antonio Grimaldi
Jean Paul Gaultier
Julie de Libran
Christian Dior
Ronald van der Kemp
Read Next: The Best Street Style from the Spring 2022 Couture Shows

5 Things to Know About Chanel’s Art-Infused Spring/Summer 2022 Couture Show

5 Things to Know About Chanel’s Art-Infused Spring/Summer 2022 Couture Show

Photo: GoRunway.com
Chanel’s spring/summer 2022 haute couture show swept social media thanks to the efforts of Charlotte Casiraghi – muse to the late Karl Lagerfeld – who opened the presentation at the Grand Palais Éphémère on horseback. Vogue fashion critic, Anders Christian Madsen, was in the audience.

A horse opened the show
Photo: Dominique Charriau
By now, it’s the stuff of social media legend: a horse opened the Chanel haute couture show. It was ridden by Charlotte Casiraghi, the show jumper and brand ambassador, who – as the daughter of Princess Caroline of Hanover and granddaughter of Grace Kelly – held a very special place in the heart of Karl Lagerfeld. Casiraghi wore a Chanel riding jacket in black tweed and sequins, heralding a collection founded in unexpected dialogues between materials, spaces and occasions. “The idea for the show’s décor came from a longstanding desire to work with Xavier Veilhan. His references to constructivism remind me of those of Karl Lagerfeld,” Virginie Viard said, referring to the artist best known for his graphic sculpture work. “Xavier wanted to work with Charlotte Casiraghi. His artistic universe is full of horses, and Charlotte is a skilled rider.”
It was a collaborative effort
Photo: Dominique Charriau
The set imagined a surreal show jumping course erected inside the Grand Palais Éphémère, the construction by the Eiffel Tower currently filling in for the Grand Palais while it’s under refurbishment, which will also serve as a venue for the Paris Olympics in 2024. Within it, Veilhan created supersized objects, from stable elements to enormous instruments played by the musician Sébastian Tellier, who has worked with Chanel in the past. “Xavier and Sébastien are friends. Along with Charlotte, they form the kind of Chanel family that I like to surround myself with,” Viard said. She described the set design as a place that made her feel free, and you could see that in the collection. There was an ease and confidence in the way she matched and clashed textures and codes in the same looks, creating a dynamic and liberal wardrobe that literally turned heads.
The collection played with clashes and constructivism
Photo: Dominique Charriau
“Virginie plays with the construction of dresses and how to bring embroideries into them. There is such a big number of people working on these dresses, it makes them quite special. In couture, your imagination can allow you to do these kinds of pieces,” said Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president of fashion. Viard worked with each of Chanel’s specialist embroiderers on the collection, underlining the collaborative premise of the show. The embroideries materialized in geometric shapes mixed and matched across eveningwear. A graphic black and white pattern of a cape collar crowned a floor-length filtrage dress in silver and grey lace. An iridescent sequin-embroidered brassiere descended into a sheer bustier that waterfalled into a transparent tiered skirt with hems that looked like tie-dye. And a translucent dress with a skirt that ballooned over itself was structured from constructivist intarsia shapes.
The daywear game was strong
Photo: Dominique Charriau
In a time when haute couture is often associated with ballgowns and banquets, and more houses are launching or relaunching haute couture collections, hoping to elevate their brand value and get a piece of this highly exclusive cake, Chanel’s attention to daywear stood out. “In the day of Coco Chanel, haute couture was for everyday. It wasn’t just for cocktails and red carpets. I think this is quite important,” Pavlovsky said. “At Chanel, we have two ateliers that focus on tailoring – which is the opposite of flou – and a new generation in training to be able to offer this daywear. The customer can pick pieces for any time of the day. It’s not just incredible dresses. In this collection, we have some daywear silhouettes which are amazing, if I may say so.” He wasn’t just tooting the Chanel horn. Viard’s check tweed skirt suits slit open at the front, with broderie anglaise bursting out from within, and her handsomely sculpted jackets with voluminous trousers were fitting examples of what haute couture can do to daywear.
Chanel is happy with other houses launching haute couture
Photo: Dominique Charriau
Pavlovsky, however, is excited about the current enthusiasm for haute couture. “The more of us there are, the better it is. Haute couture is about Paris, and the more strong designers we can have, the better it is for all of us. To see more and more designers wanting to develop haute couture is the best signal we can have,” he said. “Couture… I don’t want to say it’s ‘no limits’, because it’s not about limits, but it’s the best of today. Virginie offers a collection, which is, for her, the best of what she wants to do. Here, we don’t need to think about how to manufacture, etc. We have one hundred people working in the atelier. We have the Metiers d’Art. It’s a small business with very high-quality customers. We don’t need to explain to everyone that haute couture isn’t the same as ready-to-wear. Ready-to-wear is a business from the ’70s, but Chanel has been doing haute couture since the beginning,” Pavlovsky said.
Read Next: The Best Street Style from the Spring 2022 Couture Shows
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk

All the Highlights from Day One of Paris Haute Couture Week Fall/Winter 21-22

All the Highlights from Day One of Paris Haute Couture Week Fall/Winter 21-22

Alaïa. Photo: Courtesy of Alaïa
Yesterday marked the return of couture week and it opened with the debut show of Alaïa’s new creative director, Pieter Mulier. Faithful to Azzedine Alaïa’s style, Mulier celebrated the female beauty adding to the DNA of the brand a pinch of modernity. The perfectly balanced silhouettes formed an Alaïa army to kick off the week.
Read on for more highlights from day one of haute couture week and check back for more updates.

Georges Hobeika

Georges Hobeika‘s emblematic signature is back. Mixing feathers and sparkling crystals, mystery, and sobriety, Hobeika’s fall 21/22 is a comeback of his minimal extravagance and joyful romanticism of the 1960s.
Rami Al Ali

In an unashamed ode to opulence, Rami Al Ali takes creative cues from the photography series “Seduction” by Cyril Porchet. In a full white and gold collection, with intricate handwork, the designer also explored the curiosity around architecture.

Undoubtedly, Schiaparelli is one of the most awaited shows of the season. Entitled “the matador,” the fall/winter 21-22 couture collection by creative director Daniel Roseberry is not from Spanish influence, but a homage to a coat that Elsa Schiaparelli designed with her friend, poet, and artist Jean Cocteau. Bold, extravagant, and unbelievably new, the Schiaparelli collection is a bouquet of craft and creation.

After presenting her collections for Dior through films during the lockdown, Maria Grazia Chiuri emphasized, more than ever, the importance of fabric and the language of embroideries in her comeback physical show during Paris fashion week. Recalling the “salle aux broderies” in the Colonna Palace in Rome, the work titled Chambre de Soie and created by French artist Eva Jospin, serves as an impressive backdrop for the presentation of Chiuri’s magnificent pleated dresses, trains, and hand-woven chains that compose patterns on the body. The show was a mix of art and extraordinary savoir-faire.
Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli’s fall 2021 couture collection was filled with vibrant, youthful, and bold pieces. The color palette ranged from chic black to pastel lights, with a touch of red. He also brought cloud-like whimsical tulle dresses, draped chiffon gowns and capes, and elegant sequin dresses along with bright feathered gowns. Including men’s couture is a first for Valli, as cool, nonchalant, and sharp capes and shirts brought a whole new vibe to the brand.
Azzaro Couture

Honoring the late Loris Azzaro’s previous daring disco designs, current creative director Olivier Theyskens, incorporated shimmering silver sequins, power-shoulders, and waist-snatching skirts to bring back the vision of previous collections. This year’s collection opened with a bedazzled silver sequin-covered suit like a disco ball followed by liquid platinum suits, slinky, sparkling dresses, and jumpsuits.
Read Next: “To Have and to Hold” Dior Fall 2021 Couture Beckons to Be Touched

Everything You Need to Know About the FW21 Haute Couture Shows

Everything You Need to Know About the FW21 Haute Couture Shows

Photo: Daniel Roseberry/ Courtesy of Schiaparelli
While much of the fashion industry has endured disruptions throughout the pandemic, haute couture has persevered and is brimming with sensational moments to come. The upcoming FW21 schedule, from July 5 to 8, is jam-packed with not only the usual big-hitters, but also fresh talent, broadening the spectrum of the oldest and most prestigious of fashion weeks. 
The history of haute couture 
Just after the war, in 1945, the most revered of maisons — including Chanel, Christian Dior, Schiaparelli and Givenchy — were invited by the Chambres Syndicales to present couture collections. Members were expected to create one-of-a-kind pieces adhering to specific rules, including excellence in creativity, painstaking detail and a minimum number of hours spent making the creations, in order to qualify for the schedule. Since the first event, couture week has made its mark on fashion history with exquisite pieces and enchanting spectacles — Versace’s high-octane FW95 show rife with dazzling supermodel glamour and Chanel’s FW13 post-apocalypse presentation spring to mind.
This season, expect a mixture of major physical and virtual moments. Storied houses such as Dior, Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier, whose collaboration with Sacai’s Chitose Abe (the first in a series of  guest designers), and Balenciaga, set to make its hotly anticipated return to the haute couture schedule after 53 years of absence, have opted to present live shows to a limited guestlist. Fendi, Maison Margiela and Schiaparelli, meanwhile, are sticking to a digital showcase. 
Other unmissable moments include New York-based label Pyer Moss’s virtual inaugural couture presentation, making creative director Kerby Jean-Raymond the first Black American designer to show on the schedule. Young designer Charles De Vilmorin’s second couture collection will also be shown digitally. Away from the official line-up, creative director Pieter Mulier — Raf Simons’ right-hand man at Jil Sander, Dior and Calvin Klein — presents his first collection at the Alaïa Maison (remember how warm and humble he came across in the 2014 Dior And I documentary? Yes, we fell in love with him then, too). And, how can we forget Valentino, which will be showing its collection to a live audience, several days after the official schedule concludes, in Venice? 
Who said there could be too many fashion moments? No one, ever. So take your FROW seat in your lounge for the fantasy and theatre of haute couture here.
Read Next: Inside Gucci’s Dream-Like Presentation of its Nature-Inspired High Jewelry Collection

Cover Story: Celebrating Enduring Couture That Continues to Thrive in an Era Rocked By a Pandemic

Cover Story: Celebrating Enduring Couture That Continues to Thrive in an Era Rocked By a Pandemic

Just like a century ago, when haute couture persisted through world wars, it continues to thrive today in an era rocked by a pandemic – albeit forever changed.
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, shoes, Iris Van Herpen; headpiece, Iris Van Herpen X Casey Curran; nail artwork, Iris Van Herpen X Eichi Matsunaga. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
If haute couture had a patron goddess, she would have to be Demeter’s daughter Persephone, who cyclically died only to be reborn. As long ago as 1965, when what Diana Vreeland termed the “youthquake” was rattling the planet, the New York Times noted that “every 10 years the doctors assemble at the bedside of French haute couture and announce that death is imminent.” Around the same time, French actor Brigitte Bardot rejected Coco Chanel’s offer to dress her because haute couture – the bombshell complained – “was for grannies.”

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Bardot’s snub was understandable. Haute couture had been predicated on “older, outdated ideas,” Schiaparelli’s creative director Daniel Roseberry says. Chanel was a hoary 82 and haute couture itself – a government-controlled appellation – was more than a hundred years old. Though the antecedents of the haute couturier go back to Louis XIV in the 17th century, the French profession’s true founding father was Charles Frederick Worth, who in the 1800s introduced such novelties as the designer label and seasonal live presentations.
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, Alexandre Vauthier. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
Though, like a fairytale enchantment, the maison Worth lasted one century, it was the venerable master’s spawn – the fantasist Paul Poiret, the functionalist Chanel, the purist Madeleine Vionnet – who ushered haute couture into the modern age. Persevering through the first world war, the Spanish flu, and the Great Depression, the French couturiers not only dressed “tout-Paris,” but also exported hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of their coveted handsewn confections. “History teaches us,” Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri observes, “that couture is extremely resilient and, above all, adaptable.” The second world war and the Nazi occupation of Paris, however, posed a nearly terminal threat to the industry. Vionnet’s vast operations closed permanently in 1939. Chanel shuttered her doors. Her rival, the avant garde Elsa Schiaparelli, escaped to the US. But the enterprising Lucien Lelong stayed open, defiantly thwarting Hitler’s grandiose scheme to transplant all of Paris fashion to Berlin or Vienna. So miraculous was the Lelong-orchestrated wartime survival of haute couture that in 1945, Diana Vreeland exhorted an assistant to return from Paris with a single fabric rose as evidence of the rarefied institution’s continued existence.
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, Fendi Haute Couture. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
More than Vreeland’s handmade rose (probably from the fournisseur Guillet), what bloomed from the ashes of the second world war was a fecund garden of “women- flowers,” wrote Christian Dior, who founded his maison in 1946, all wearing sumptuous “skirts like petals.” Before long, the Dior empire accounted for three-fifths of all haute couture sales. The remainder came from the other fabled houses of haute couture’s post-war golden age – Fath, Dessès, Heim, Balmain, Griffe, Rochas, Balenciaga – whose workrooms were as intricately structured as their lavish dresses, and whose formidable directrices were as lofty as a ballgown’s price.
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, Ashi Couture. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
Haughty personnel and intimidating invoices were just two elements of the old-school haute couture culture that drove legions of women in the 60s and 70s out of the storied salons and into brand- new, funky boutiques selling ready-to-wear. Yves Saint Laurent had initiated the pret-a-porter movement in 1966 with the opening of the first Rive Gauche store, on Rue de Tournon. Trendsetting shops, some as far afield as London and New York, soon usurped haute couture’s function as (in Viktor & Rolf’s words) “a laboratory of ideas and experimentation.” Predictably, by 1973, the doomsayers of Time magazine were reporting that the enterprise of haute couture was “breathing very hard.”
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, Guo Pei Couture. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
As before, the rumors of haute couture’s extinction were greatly exaggerated. During the bullish decade of the 80s, Karl Lagerfeld revived the ailing Chanel empire with his cheeky reinterpretations of the house’s hallowed codes. And with a heady eleven francs to the dollar, nouveau riche Americans flocked to Paris on the Concorde, frenetically buying up whole collections and fervently embracing newcomer Christian Lacroix. Haute couture reclaimed its magical ability to serve – to invoke Roseberry’s metaphor – as a “love language” spoken between designer and client.
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture; earrings, Hugo Kreit. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
In the 90s, after a market crash, recession, and Gulf war had yet again incapacitated the industry, LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault played Prince Charming to haute couture’s Sleeping Beauty. Arnault’s ingenuity lay in transforming haute couture from an entity that served not just private customers, but a brand. A demographic even larger than Arnault might have calculated began participating in haute couture’s previously esoteric rites – viewing collections, judging them, sharing them, and buying spin-off, logo-emblazoned status items, via the proliferating digital platforms that propelled fashion into the 21st century.
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, Viktor & Rolf Haute Couture; earrings, Hugo Kreit. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
Responding to the rapidly changing environment, the antiquated trade organization Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture morphed into the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode and safeguarded its future by modernizing its rules of admission, essentially unchanged since the time of Lucien Lelong. As a result, its roster of haute couturiers expanded from about 15 members in the early 2000s to 100 today. This updating of the bylaws has allowed many esteemed out-of-towners, such as Iris van Herpen, Elie Saab, Fendi (under Kim Jones’s direction), and Victor & Rolf to become “correspondent members,” and Guo Pei, with her new studio in Paris, and Christophe de Vilmorin, fresh out of design school, to become “guest members.” Rallying in the face of the pandemic and lockdowns this past January, 28 of the Fédération’s houses resourcefully presented collections during the three-day SS21 haute couture showings (albeit virtually).
Malika El Maslouhi wears Lion Vénitien Necklace, earrings in 18ct white gold set with diamonds, Chanel High jewelry. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
Paradoxically, rather than hamper designers, the limitations imposed by Covid-19 freed them to explore new formats and engage with artists in other media. “Covid forced us to break through traditional barriers and explore new ways of presenting our conceptual ideas,” say Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren from Viktor & Rolf, whose creations addressed sustainability as well as the need for a “lighthearted escape into fantasy.” And, just as Elsa Schiaparelli, in the 1930s, enriched her own work by collaborating with Leonor Fini, Jean Cocteau, and Christian Bérard, so the present-day couturiers overcame Covid-induced constraints by merging their imaginations with the aesthetic worlds of filmmakers Anton Corbijn (Chanel), Nick Knight (Valentino), Matteo Garrone (Dior), and Christophe Tiphaine (Schiaparelli). “Fashion has always been the realm of the imagination,” Chiuri explains, “So it is natural for me to turn to a film format to express my project through visual stories.” For Roseberry, whose sensual collection was cleverly compressed into an Instagram-friendly three minute, 52 second video, the goal was “to create a format and a way of showing the collection that really lets the viewer experience it.”
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, headband, earrings, rings, Dior Haute Couture. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
The pandemic may have simply accelerated an inevitable evolution. Viktor & Rolf plans to “become more digitally focused, creating content that caters to each platform.” Elie Saab foresees a “mix between smaller, less hectic, live fashion shows and digital content.” Twenty-four-year-old Vilmorin, who gave birth to his brand during lockdown, doesn’t even see a need for “all that mise-en-scène and spectacle” of a runway event. Says Roseberry, “It’s a total reset.”
Malika El Maslouhi wears dress, shoes, Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture. Photographed by Thibault-Theodore for Vogue Arabia
No longer a resource-draining marketing exercise, haute couture – the ultimate “slow fashion” – now has the capacity to turn a substantial profit, as robust economies around the globe generate new clients, whose fittings might even take place through Zoom. “Covid has made people rush less and appreciate more the value of things,” Saab reflects. Among the freshly minted devotees of the most extravagant finery on earth are the very young, and – in a development that the sybaritic Sun King himself would surely appreciate – men. Fendi, Valentino, and Vilmorin all showcased their offerings on male and female models. As Ralph Toledano, president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, stated, “It seems that there are no longer any boundaries to couture.”
Read Next: Editor’s Letter: Why Our May Issue is Dedicated to the Highest Artistries and Haute Couture
Originally published in the May 2021 issue of Vogue Arabia
DOP and video editing Cheyne Tillier-DalyPhotographer Thibault-ThéodoreStyle Lisa JarvisFashion director Katie TrotterHair Charlie Le MinduMakeup Annabelle Petit at Wise & TalentedNails Lora de Sousa Creative producer Laura PriorProduction Weird Fishes StudioProducer Réda Ait Retouching Curro VerdugoAnalog operator Maëlle JoignePainter Damien CacciaStudio assistant Tom KleinbergStyle assistant Francesca Riccardi Set assistants Antoine Dugrand Castaignede, Amin Bidar, Thomas JardinProduction assistant Adélina Bichet ElzeyModel Malika El Maslouhi at Viva Model

The Best Bridal Looks from Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21

The Best Bridal Looks from Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21

Luxurious silk, frothy tulle, and delicate lacework — behold the best bridal dresses from this year’s couture catwalk.
Courtesy of Fendi

As fashion season kicked into high gear with Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21, we were taken into high-glamour fairytales told through fashion films and digital shows, such as Dior‘s mesmerising exploration of self through tarot card characters and Valentino‘s mix of royalty and club-kid punk.
Throughout the week, we’ve witnessed couture’s exciting bridal transformations, including layers upon layers of tulle at Giambattista Valli and ruffle collars at Alexandre Vauthier. Meanwhile, the art of storytelling was transformed as shows fully immersed their virtual audience in beauty and elegance (think of Virginie Viard’s finale where the Chanel bride — wearing a silk-embellished, white-buttoned gown — rode in on a white horse). Aptly, this year’s offerings brought us creations that reinforce the purity of human connection and the emotion of being together — all of which we will hopefully be able to experience again, soon.
From Valentino to Fendi, these are the best bridal looks from Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21.
1. Valentino
Courtesy of Valentino

2. Fendi
Courtesy of Fendi

3. Giambattista Valli
Courtesy of Giambattista Valli

4. Giambattista Valli
Courtesy of Giambattista Valli

5. Chanel
Courtesy of Chanel

6. Chanel
Courtesy of Chanel

8. Alexandre Vauthier
Courtesy of Alexandre Vauthier

9. Antonio Grimaldi 
Courtesy of Antonio Grimaldi

10. Antonio Grimaldi
Courtesy of Antonio Grimaldi

11. Dior
Photo: Elina Kechicheva. Courtesy of Dior

12. Dior
Photo: Elina Kechicheva. Courtesy of Dior

13. Armani Privé
Courtesy of Armani Privé

14. Viktor & Rolf
Courtesy of Viktor & Rolf

Read Next: All the Highlights from Day Three of Paris Haute Couture Week Spring/Summer 2021
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk

Zuhair Murad Joins Elie Saab and Georges Hobeika in Opting Out of Paris Couture Week

Zuhair Murad Joins Elie Saab and Georges Hobeika in Opting Out of Paris Couture Week

Photo: Courtesy of Filippo Fior / Gorunway.com

Zuhair Murad is the latest designer to pull out of the Paris haute couture week schedule, which started on January 25. The Lebanese couturier was set to present his spring/summer 2021 collection on January 27.
Citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a reason for not presenting the collection, he said, “The devastation caused by the pandemic and the drastic restrictions taken worldwide, the safety of our community and especially the wellbeing of our employees, who have participated in spreading beauty through various collections, remains our top priority. Therefore, Zuhair Murad has taken the decision to postpone the 27 January showcase of its Couture Spring Summer 2021 collection.”
Photo: Courtesy of Zuhair Murad

The news doesn’t come long after fellow Lebanese couturiers Elie Saab and Georges Hobeika also announced that they would forego presenting their latest haute couture collections. Hobeika and Saab’s decisions, like Murad’s, were also made in light of the pandemic, and to ensure public safety. “As the pandemic of the coronavirus remains strong, health restrictions are being put in place around the world: they are needed to help healthcare workers and researchers that save precious lives,” Hobeika said in a statement.
Murad continued his statement: “We thank you for your kindness, support, and understanding as we look forward to scheduling the show in a near and peaceful future.” Hobeika and Saab are also expected to reschedule their respective shows during safer, peaceful, and happier times.
The past couple of weeks have seen Lebanon a new record for daily infection rates, with more than 78,812 cases being recorded in the past 20 days. On Wednesday, January 20, the Lebanese Health Ministry’s Scientific Committee on Combating the Coronavirus Pandemic also advised extending the country’s national lockdown by two weeks
Read Next: Meet The Beirut Fashion Designers Refusing To Give Up Hope

Exclusive: Ashi Presents His FW21 Collection On Friend & Model Cindy Bruna

Exclusive: Ashi Presents His FW21 Collection On Friend & Model Cindy Bruna

Saudi Arabia’s most international designer, couturier Ashi looks to the City of Light as a new, no-holds-barred creative chapter unfolds – exquisitely embodied by one of his muses, supermodel Cindy Bruna.
White feather top, Ashi studio couture FW20; bracelet, ring, Chaumet. Photography: Tom Munro.

Since settling in Paris in 2018, pioneering Saudi Arabian courtier Ashi has brought a sense of je ne sais quoi to the world’s fashion capital and the birthplace of haute couture. Famed for his architectural sensibilities, Ashi’s pieces speak of ethereal, alien vistas where emotion and power rule – and his latest collection is no different. Once again, his voluminous shapes in delicate off-whites, subtle silvers, and deep blacks incite wonder. His FW20 collection speaks of the moon, the reflections of its pale light, and a deep-seated need to escape the mundane. The designer’s arrival in Paris – more specifically, in an old Haussmann apartment near the Opera neighborhood – has sparked a new wave of creativity.
Cindy Bruna wears structured crepe dress with shoulder drape, scarf detail, and embroidered buttons, Ashi Studio couture FW20; ring, Chaumet; shoes, Ashi Studio. Ashi wears coat, top, Ashi studio; shoes. Photography: Tom Munro.

Ashi’s Fall couture is showcased in the December 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia by French model Cindy Bruna. She and Ashi share a connection rooted in longstanding mutual respect. “Cindy is a Parisian supermodel and is the perfect choice as I have now been based in the city for two years,” he comments. The shoot, taking place around his new collection, includes a retrospective of Ashi’s work over the years. Dramatic yet modern, the collection speaks to a sense of much needed serenity, avoiding ostentatious displays in favor of a peace of mind that relaxes both soul and eye. Ashi comments on the women who are always at the forefront of his mind – French aristocrat Jacqueline de Ribes, Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, English accessories designer and muse Loulou de la Falaise – “Women with stories. Women with something to tell,” he says. And if there is heartbreak, perhaps, all the better. “There is no poetry without death; you always have to have something tragic to have some poetry.”
Double breasted coat dress with multilayer ruffle base and tail, Ashi Studio Couture FW20; gloves, shoes, Ashi Studio; necklace, Chopard. Photography: Tom Munro.

While underscoring Ashi’s monumental and emotional appeal, the collection also serves to mark a new beginning. The designer relocated to Paris following turmoil in Beirut, where he was based between 2002 and 2018. His newest couture speaks to a moment of clarity and it is tempting to link this apparent sense of inner calm to his move to the French capital. His new “fashion-lab,” as Ashi describes it, is where he will now be “experimenting with everything related to fashion.” And yet, Beirut is never far from his thoughts. It was in Lebanon where he studied fashion, at ESMOD, finishing top of his class three years in a row. After working for Elie Saab and Givenchy, the young designer struck out on his own, purchasing a sewing machine and hiring a seamstress he paid by the hour – when he could pay her at all – to realize his own designs. It wasn’t until a friend took his pieces to the Grammys in 2011 that he began to make a name for himself outside of Lebanon. Unsurprisingly, Beirut remains dear to him.
Coat, Top, Ashi Studio; Shoes, Saint Laurent. Photography: Tom Munro.

“It’s the energy that inspires me. I arrived with no knowledge of Beirut, its culture, its history, or its people.” The recent explosion at Beirut’s port, which devastated the capital and left thousands homeless, has left an impression. “When the blast happened I refused to see any images of Beirut destroyed – my office, my home. I wanted to keep the image I left in my mind clear. I didn’t want to leave a scar of Beirut in my mind and heart. Beirut has always been my backbone; I know for sure that it will rise again.”
Soft drape crepe top with scarf and headpiece, Wide Leather pants skirt with front slit, Ashi Studio Couture FW20; belt, gloves, Ashi Studio. Photography: Tom Munro.

His home country also still serves as inspiration. “The Eighties, in Saudi, were phenomenal,” he recalls. “It was an easy life; there was no struggle, no pressure.” Ashi remembers spending his time with his friends playing football and escaping to art classes instead of detention, remembering with a laugh that he was a “naughty boy.” “I’m living the current transformation in Saudi through the lens of social media,” he says. “Everyone is telling me that it is changing. I do remember towards the end of my teen years that restrictions were creeping in – I had long hair, and this was looked down on.”Born in 1980 in Jeddah, the only son in a family with four girls, Ashi recalls that fashion was everywhere. “It was in my face. I lived the era with them – the big hair, the makeup, the ostentatious fashion. Designers would come to the house for fittings and I would give my opinion. It wasn’t considered a luxury, that’s just the way it was,” he says. Along with his mother’s inspiration, his father, who owned a luxury textile company, also influenced his foray into fashion by introducing a young Ashi to fabrics he still employs today.
Ashi has consistently played a role in redefining fashion. But when he started work in the early 2000s, his architecturally inspired pieces were not well received. “It was a new thing, I faced some backlash,” he tells. “It wasn’t appreciated at the time. I started a movement in fashion, which I slowly perfected and polished with time. I am a very conceptual person and I always think of great architects like Zaha Hadid when I’m designing,” he says.
Red Cape Structured Dress with embroidery detail on neckline and bottom, Ashi Studio Couture SS20; shoes, Ashi Studio; ring, Chopard. Photography: Tom Munro.

Ashi’s work has since been embraced by private clients and celebrities the world over. He has dressed Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rita Ora, Billy Porter, Queen Rania of Jordan, Cardi B, and more. He has also released various prêt-a- porter collections. Never one to stand still, Ashi continues to push boundaries. Perhaps his most striking departure from his high fashion roots is his new loungewear collection. Launched last month, the line is inspired by the enduring appeal of Hollywood’s Golden Age. “I enjoyed working on loungewear because being comfortable is something I look forward to,” he says. “I thought, why not create something simple, yet light and sultry, using silk? It’s inspired by the glamour of the 1950s, with a modern twist.” The collection is embodied by Georgina Grenville, a South African model and a mainstay of the 1990s with a slew of Vogue covers to her name.
Structured crepe Dress with shoulder drape, scarf detail, and embroidered buttons, Ashi Studio Couture FW20; shoes, Ashi Studio. Photography: Tom Munro.

Contemporary, with a simple elegance, Ashi takes us on an emotional journey. His pieces catch the eye and certainly provide a haven from the noise and drama all around us. The avant garde designer will continue to push boundaries with the new fashion experiments he’s currently working on at his exclusive Parisian atelier. Time will tell where the winding cobblestone streets will lead – as always, Ashi will let beauty guide him.
Read Next: Vogue Arabia Cover Story: The Fascinating & Colorful History Behind Saudi Arabia’s Bedouin Fashion
Originally published in the December 2020 Issue of Vogue Arabia 
Hair Alexandrine PielMakeup Kelly McClainProduction laura Prior, Margaux HuguetPhotography Assistant William HalbersModel Cindy Bruna

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