Let’s face it; there aren’t that many global Middle Eastern fashion brands that have taken the world with a storm, attracting royalties from all corners of the globe, making red-carpet celebrities dying to wear your creations. There just isn’t the same volume of Arabic fashion brands that have managed to pull off and stack up to what Italy’s Versace has done or France’s Chanel has accomplished, which, in all fairness, is “blamed” on the more restricted and conservative Middle Eastern values that constrain that kind of creativity or “frivolity”.
Nevertheless, breaking European monopoly and penetrating the unbelievably competitive Fashion industry requires something out of the ordinary, something innovative and raw – something bold, in order to stand out amongst the multi-billion dollar Italian and French giants and gain the required attention and significance needed to survive against the greatest. So when an underdog, a noobie, manages to pierce through this vicious fashion frame, it’s the real deal – Elie Saab is the real deal!
The protégé Elie Saab was born in the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, in 1964, where he started his entrepreneurial fashion venture. Just like any other fashion emperor set on conquering the world, he fell in love with art at the young age of nine, experimenting with different fabrics and styles, envisioning the do´s and don’t’s and practicing his unbelievable “know-how” on his rather lucky sister. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it, establishing the critical foundation for the genius brand he would later establish. Now unlike other fashion giants, such as Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, who attended prestigious fashion schools around the world, Saab is a true self-taught fashion oracle who gave up school in Paris after he realizing that it just wasn’t the right choice for him. Though you can’t help but think that maybe a formal fashion education would have aided him further in his career, you know, giving him that edge, or maybe it would have simply burnt his genius to the ground. Saab casually explains “the most important factor that has aided me in the business was my talent! But what makes the difference between one and the other is the identity you create for yourself and this recommends talent.”
You see, Saab had a 6th sense for fashion, which he was going to use to get ahead of the game. So as a young aspiring entrepreneur who’s absolutely determined to get his name out and succeed in what he does best, Elie set sail in hopes of being the next big thing in the fashion industry – starting in Beirut. In 1982, at the age of 18, he sure was on the right track killing it, as he opened up his first atelier in the then-burgeoning city, overseeing over a dozen employees who helped him establish the first foundations to what later came to be a fashion empire (FYI an atelier is fancy French word for “workshop”). His work was so impactful, so elegant, dominating the arts of dressmaking; it swiftly bought him the recognition he needed in and outside of Beirut, attracting women from the high society to the new mecca of fashion in Lebanon.
As his brand expanded, becoming more exquisite and more refined, Elli Saab became a household name within the elite of Lebanon. Soon enough though, after 21 years of working his ass off, Saab was finally awarded the highest, most exclusive fashion honor; introduced into the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (The French is enough to give you a sense of how fancy it was). Though I have to say that his biggest international breakthrough came when the gorgeous Halle Berry wore Saabs’ burgundy gown on the 2002 Academy Awards. I mean having your dress worn by an influential individual, a celebrity at the Oscars is huge; it’s like a first class ticket to heaven!
What really makes Saabs’ creations so extraordinary though is his hybrid sense of creativity, having such a unique combination of western and eastern intentions, allowing the women to absorb the best of both worlds, wrapping her in such noble materials, magnifying femininity, glorifying the female figure, giving her that empowered yet subtle feel that is absolutely remarkable. It’s the secret ingredient that makes every woman blossom into a one of a kind angel; it’s his foundation of “simplicity with a certain touch of glamour” that really pulls it all together. “As long as you have a simple style you will definitely be on the right path.”
Today, Elie Saabs’ magical creations have dressed iconic female figures in the most prestigious events in the world; Angelina Jolie on the Red Carpet, Halle Berry on the Oscars and even Sweden’s Princess Madeleine. From being one of four siblings raised in the suburb of Beirut, selling his homemade creations to his neighbors, he now has an estimated net-worth of an amazing $200 million dollars and is a global fashion icon featured in hundreds of retailers in over 20 countries. Saab is today known for his simple designs, precious resources and his skill to maintain a form of sophistication that strikes the beholder beyond imagination. And to top it all of, he recently launched his first ever fragrance, “Le Perfum”, which is amazing! It became an overnight sensation and an absolute bestseller in over 10 countries, including the UAE. Guys, if you want to impress her, get her “Le Perfum”!
Elie Saabs’ success was no coincidence as years and years of hard dedicated and painful grind was required to fully exploit his mind-blowing potential. A man who wisely took great advantage of his passion for fashion to make a name for himself amongst the other giant fashion moguls. It wasn’t just about the fabric or the couture itself, but about the spirit and the soul that each one of his creations had and boasted. “I believe that each designer has to create his own identity to show up and persist in the fashion field, along with this, perseverance and ambition are very important in overcoming obstacles.”
Picture Credit: Arabian Business