Rise of Middle Eastern Designers

Designers from the Middle East have made a mark for themselves in the global fashion industry. From dressing Hollywood stars at the Oscars and Cannes, Middle Eastern designers are now grabbing the world’s attention at international fashion weeks. There’s a deep understanding of luxury and uniqueness displayed in their designs which is often not found in the fashion industry elsewhere. 

Dubai is the evolving fashion capital of the Middle East and is home to upcoming talent, fashion shows, events, and luxury fashion stores. Approximately $300 B is spent on luxury products every year.

Let’s have a look at some of these talented designers who have garnered world attention:

1. Elie Saab

Middle East-designers-Elie Saab
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A star in the global fashion industry, Elie Saab is a self-trained Lebanese fashion tycoon. A journey that started with making dresses for his sisters when he was 9 lead to opening an atelier in Beirut at 18.

Elie Saab’s popularity soon crossed borders, and he is now a popular figure in the fashion weeks and the only non-Italian member of the prestigious Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (National Chamber of Italian Fashion).

Elie Saab designs are a fusion of western and eastern culture, made of materials like taffeta, organza, and satin paired with more light and fluid fabrics. He’s famous for making bridal couture using expensive fabrics, laces, embroidery, silk threads, pearls, and crystals. In 1998, he launched his ready to wear and accessories line in Milan.

Many fashion icons have been launched at the Oscars Red Carpet and Eli Saab was no different. He popularity rose in the US when he dressed Halle Berry for the 2002 Oscars where she also won the Oscar for Best Actress (Monster’s Ball). His long list of clienteles includes Queen Rania of Jordan, Crown Princess of Sweden and the Duchess of Luxembourg. In 2011, his first line of perfumes was launched.

2. Alaïa

Born in Tunisia to wheat farmers, Azzedine Alaïa was introduced to the world of fashion at a very young age by his mother’s friend who supplied him copies of the French Vogue.

After studying sculpture, he moved to Paris to pursue fashion design. In the 1970’s, he privately dressed fashionistas like Marie-Hélène de Rothschild and Greta Garbo. But it was in 1980, when he launched the ready-to-wear collection, that the world took notice of Alaïa, as did the editors of TIME and French ‘Elle’.

Over the years, Alaïa has gained reverence for his passion and independence for discreet luxury. His collections are perfect crafts and carry an element of surprise with the depth of material research and textures. He can make it subtle and rich, and his designs are unlike any you have ever seen before. Alaïa has dressed Naomi Campbell, Tina Turner, Shakira and Michelle Obama, the former First lady of USA.

3. Zuhair Murad

Zuhair Murad, a Lebanese designer, has an extensive line across haute-couture, ready to wear and women accessories. He made his first big appearance in 1999 in Rome with a collection that was critically acclaimed. His designs have inextricably interwoven tradition and refinement to express his idea of what haute couture is. Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Priyanka Chopra and Shakira are just a few of the A-listers that have worn his creations on the red carpets across the world. Princess Al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia was also seen wearing one of his designs.

4. Chalayan

Middle East-designers-Chalayan
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Hussein Chalayan, born in Cyprus, is known for his multi-dimensional designs that tell stories around cultural identities. His approach is a seamless union of art, performance, and technology that provides his clients with iconic collections featuring pioneering design, flawless tailoring and simple aesthetics. Chalayan has made a place for himself not just with the fashion industry, but celebrities like Kate Blanchett, Rihanna and Cameron Diaz are avid followers of this fashion house. Chalayan menswear is popular with the Hussein Chalayan 2017 collection also grabbing the limelight.

5. Reem Acra

MIddle East-Designers-Reem Acra
Photo credit: Ovidiu Hrubaru/Shutterstock.com

Reem Acra, born in Beirut, started her designing stint when she designed a bridal dress for her friend on a bet to meet a deadline. Reem Acra soon started a fashion house which is now known to be leading the way to redefining the boundaries of fashion. Her designs are stunning combinations of tradition and modern aesthetics. Reem Acra blush wedding dresses and Reem Acra evening gowns are the popular segments from the line Her celebrity clients include Christina Applegate, Kristen Stewart, Selena Gomez and many more.

6. Elie Tahari

Middle East-Designers-Elie Tahari
Photo credit: Nata Sha/Shutterstock.com

Born to a Jewish-Iranian couple in 1952 in Israel, Elie Tahari first ventured into fashion inspired by the disco culture of 1970’s. His first creations of dance dresses and blouses were displayed at a fashion show in New York in 1972. In 1980, he shifted attention to women’s tailored suits. He made the iconic tube top popular in the 1973 and lately his designs have expanded to men’s ready-to-wear, women’s accessories, women’s jewellery, women’s footwear and home goods. His creations have been worn by celebs like Elizabeth Hurley, Beyonce and Angelina Jolie.

7. Erdem

Turkish by paternal origin, Erdem Moralioglu started his fashion brand in 2005 in London and is one the most celebrated young designers. He specialises in women’s ready-to-wear that is now synonymous with powerful feminine identity and versatility. Erdem is known to use vibrant colours, experimental fabric and subtly mix delicate and bold. Erdem wedding dresses are popular among the fashionistas while his Erdem 2017 collection has grabbed attention around the world.

That’s our list of Middle Eastern designers who have risen in the global luxury fashion industry. They have made a place for themselves with inspired designs that carry tradition, luxury and impeccable craft with them. Shop for their exclusive collections here.

Swati Talwar

Global Content and India Office Head

Seasoned lover of the written word. Travel junkie and Hogwarts alumni. Currently composing notes for the upcoming fashion week. You can also call me Licorne Magique (don't ask me why!).

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