Ever since that fateful Oscars night in 2002, when Halle Berry stepped out in Elie Saab’s burgundy embroidered gown, Arab fashion designers have been making headlines. No Hollywood feast would be complete without the works of Zuhair Murad, Georges Hobeika, Reem Acra, and others.
In recent years, there’s been a surge in up and coming Arab designers that are drifting off the, somehow, predictable path of known Arab designers.
Ashi Studio for one, headed by the elusive Mohammed Ashi, preferring not to be photographed. Has bestowed the fashion scene with avant-garde pieces that rival the works of the most prestigious international fashion houses. Be it his trademark ruffles, his structured tailoring, or his stone-encrusted gowns; his voluminous silhouettes are in hot demand right now.
Another name to be reckoned with is Nour Najem; a Lebanese designer who has combined aesthetic talent with Middle Eastern heritage. Having interned with Saab, Kayrouz, and Seikaly, Najem is now known for her individual feminine style that joins geometry with fluidity. She also launched Kenzah; an NGO catered to empowering under privileged women through reviving traditional techniques in artisanal craftsmanship.
Sandra Mansour is another fresh new talent. Born and raised in Switzerland, Mansour’s love for painting and art let her to find her true calling in fashion. Behind a quaint blue door in Gemmayzeh, Beirut lies a hustle bustle of creative activity that is her atelier. Things were not always so hectic, however, her first two collections granted her one order only but she never faltered. Working alongside Saab at the beginning of her career; she was able to translate her love of art into tangible pieces that infuse modern embroidery with feminine simplicity. Her F/W 2015 collection brazenly features designs in gold fabric, embroidered crème gowns, with touches of burgundy and shades of gray.
Last but definitely not least is Bashar Assaf. A Lebanese that was raised in Saudi Arabia, Assaf was nominated for Best Upcoming Designer in the Middle East by Elle Style Awards. Assaf’s appreciation for the female form led him to challenge the female body through his geometric shapes. Metamorphism, Hallucinations, and Ethereal are but a few exotic names for some of his breathtaking collections.