Chanel Cruise Show Illustrations

Just incase you have been living under a rock and hadn’t heard – the Chanel Cruise Fall show took place in Dubai recently.

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It was held on an exclusive luxurious island just off the coast which was made JUST for the occasion.

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If my tone appears to read tinged with an ever-so-slight tone of bitterness, it’s because I AM still rather sore I did not attend. (super exclusive invite only!)

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Oh well! I’m over it!! All is fair in love and fashion 🙂

Now that I’ve got my emotional trauma behind me (!) Let’s talk about the collection …

The level of luxury and opulence at this show reminded me a lot of Karl Lagerfeld’s interpretation of India is his pre fall 2012 collection. (One of my favorites!)

Similarly, this one was also very lavish and plush but with a very sophisticated 1001-Nights/ Arabesque twang to it.

I liked the contemporary tailoring contrasted with the fluid billowing shapes such as the harem pants and elegant flowing tunics with ethnic shoes. Tres Aladdin!

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The signature tweed textures made cameos, both in light variations and more stronger monochrome tones. I was particularly enchanted by the folksier prints in sheer chiffon kaftans. I also loved the tribal embroidered fabric (Bedouin inspired, perhaps?)

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It wasn’t all soft and demure, though. For instance, I appreciated the odd lamé metallic trouser thrown into the mix; unexpected and added edge!

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MOST of ALL I loved those AWESOME bejewelled moons.

They added such a wonderful ethereal, exotic touch, especially paired with the models’ smouldering, sultry eye make up!

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The gorgeous fabrics and textures stirred up some creativity inside me. Here are some fashion illustrations I created of the show.

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Interview with couture designer Rami Kadi

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Continuing from my last blog post, here is my exclusive interview with Lebanese couture designer Rami Kadi.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

The woman I design for is a woman living a normal life in today’s world, but who stands out with her elegance and grace. She has something about her that turns head wherever she goes, leaving a trail of seduction and mystery behind. she’s a woman who blows life into the garment she is wearing.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

What are your favorite fabrics to work with and where are they sourced from?

My choice of materials/fabrics depends on both the trend and my mood, and is not specifically limited to one type of material.


The silhouettes of your couture pieces are to be marveled at. Are the constructions of such a great challenge?

Of course it is a challenge. If I don’t challenge myself I will never evolve. In fact, it is essential for my pieces to have great cuts, it is a part of my signature.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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How do you decide on your theme for each collection? Do they all have a story to tell?

In terms of creativity and inspiration, the world around me has always been a rich source of inspiration; it provides me with flashes of creativity all day long, from the moment I wake until I go to bed, and sometimes even in my dreams.

Anything can be inspiring, the music I listen to while I’m driving, interaction with people, when I’m relaxing at the beach, or reading magazines, watching other designers fashion shows, etc.

Another major source of inspiration is obtained while traveling, visiting new countries and getting acquainted with new cultures and fashion salons…

Inspiration is not only limited to my day-to-day activities, it can also be found in my dreams! I always dream about dresses or shapes and I wake up in the middle of night to draw them, and go back to sleep.
Each of my collection has a specific story and it is from that story that emerges the whole collection.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

As an example my latest collection tells the story of a sleeping beauty who wakes up from an ever long sleep and finds her self within the confines of a sumptuous castle. It is with mixed feelings of surprise, and astonishment that the gracious princess walks through the aisles of the palace, and discovers a place glowing with royal opulence and yet holding an air of modernity.

How are your feelings towards exhibiting at Dubai’s Fashion Forward this year?

I am really excited to present my new collection there, especially that it is taking place in the big hall that seats about 1000 people. It is always an accomplishment when I get to the point of the runway show.

Your collections often have some very strong fairytale elements to it. What intrigues you about fairytales in particular?

I have always loved fairytales. They leave so much place for imagination and creativity. There are so many fabrics that can be used around the theme to express the romance, the magic and most of all the royal feel.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

If you could choose any historical figure, factual or legend, from the likes of Cleopatra to Lady Godiva, to be the face of your new collection who would it be and why?

I would go for The queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese, an artist who masters the art of seduction and whose fashionism and attitude captivated me long ago. There’s something about Dita that glows with elegance and captivates everyone around her. She is the kind of women who turns heads wherever she goes.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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My fashion illustration Collaboration with Rami Kadi

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

As soon as I laid eyes on the “Le Gala Des Mysteres” collection last year, I developed a deep “designer crush” on Rami Kadi and his DIVINE ball gowns. The tulle, the embroidery, the beadwork – it’s honestly what dreams are MADE of.

Imagine my sheer delight when I got a call a few weeks ago from Rami Kadi Couture in Lebanon to say that they would be interested in doing an artistic collaboration with me for Fashion Forward this year!!

I was elated and couldn’t wait to get started!

I couldn’t share any information about the upcoming collection until it was over so it was QUITE a challenge keeping it schtum.

His theme for the show this year was fairy tales and his collection had strong French Rococo elements and took inspiration from the set design of the film Marie Antoinette. It consisted of beautiful Laduree inspired colours, opulence, indulgent fabrics, decadence and femininity.

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To set the tone for his show, his idea was to print out actual illustrated mini story books which would be placed on all the seats at the runway. (800 to be exact!)

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In addition to this, those same illustrations were going to be projected onto the screen of the catwalk show before it started and the story was to be narrated live in front of an audience.

Here’s how my final illustrations turned out!!

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His catwalk show finally took place last night and it was such an exhilarating experience to see my illustrations projected onto the screen. I’m still totally buzzed from the show!

As for the collection itself, it was absolutely breathtaking. The models all wore these magnificent peony headpieces which really complemented the outfits and made it look even more theatrical and dramatic.

The embroidery was so ornate and the fabrics were plush and lavish especially the embossed damask motifs. I really liked the shade of gold he used in the collection. It wasn’t highly glossy or metallic – just a very pale subtle sheen which was far more flattering and sophisticated than straight up gold; especially combined with pale blue.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Although the colour scheme was mainly soft pastels, brighter sorbet shades were also included which broke up the collection, keeping it from being predictable and giving it a sense of bold freshness.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Even though the silhouettes were extravagant, they were all incredibly tasteful and well executed. I loved how luxurious and heavy the fabric looked, the way it trailed behind on the runway and how the fabric was draped. My favorite gowns were these two.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

I cannot wait to draw them!!!

There’s MORE – I’ll be publishing an exclusive interview with the designer himself in the VERY next post to find out more about his design process and inspirations.

More information will be up on the blog in a jiffy!!! 🙂

Fashion Forward Frolics – Part 1

Fashion is the art
Designers are the gods
Models play the part of angels in the dark
Which one of you would ever dare to go against
That beauty is a trade and everyone is paid

Season 3 of Fashion Forward finally kicked off today at Madinat Jumeirah for press and public.

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Outfit of the day - Dee by Dalia skirt paired with a Versace belt and quirky telephone bag

Outfit of the day – Dee by Dalia skirt paired with a Versace belt and quirky telephone bag

It was all very rock n’ roll chic at the Kage show with wild teased hair, dark lips, Bardot necklines and the odd flash of metallic. It definitely had a young, vibrant and vivacious feel.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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Intriguingly, the collection took inspiration from a specific time and event – New Years Eve, 1983 to be exact! What I really loved was the general grungy-ness broken up with baby blues, gorgeous geometric details and metallic accents.

My favorite were these two outfits. I just love the rich, opulent, oriental print and how the fabric is repeated in the peter pan collars – great sense of continuity! I like how they are edgy yet pulled together!

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Courtesy of Getty Images

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Courtesy of Getty Images

The Emperor 1688 featured a tasteful and sophisticated collection. I loved their interpretation of classic English tailoring and contemporary take on Scottish tweed, wool and tartan.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

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Courtesy of Getty Images

I was particularly captivated by the fur capes and the belted trench coats in this unique, rich buttery shade.

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I also liked the idea of leather harnesses over floaty ethereal dresses. It’s the perfect balance of androgynous yet feminine.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

The combination of prim bow ties, textures and their very British/Burberry-esque aesthetic – it kind of had a sexy Sherlock Holmes vibe goin’ on! Don’t you agree?

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Fictional ice queen Miranda Priestly was famously quoted for her bitchy dig in “Devils Wears Prada” where she says sarcastically says “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking (!)”

Well, I’m certain Jean Louis Sabaji’s innovative treatment of florals would make even Miranda Priestly sit up and take notice, for their collection proved that flowers CAN be inventive as well as fresh.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Bursting with skill, handcrafted techniques were used to mimic foilage, organic textures and petals in bloom.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Very magical. Very mythical. Very “Midsummer Nights Dream.”

I liked the ombre effects on the gowns in particular and the voluminous blush-pink rose gown was definitely a favorite of mine.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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Finally, day one closed with the Ezra Couture show. His designs are known for their buoyant, diaphanous and exquisite edge. The designer is even getting popular in Hollywood, with celebrities frequently wearing his stunning designs on the red carpet.

Starting off with soft alluring pastel hues, his collection gradually got bolder, featuring shades of sapphire with statement armour inspired pieces that sparkled in the light.

Courtesy of Getty images

Courtesy of Getty images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty images

Courtesy of Getty images

The chiffon had such an amazing drape and the fabric was so light and airy that it almost seemed to DANCE behind the models mischievously and seductively like the flicker of a flame.

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Everyone was totally spellbound, enjoying the show – and JUST when we thought it couldn’t get any more spectacular …

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It snowed.

It was SO magnificent and the bridal wear looked so poetic and pure. We found ourselves in a winter wonderland in the middle of April.

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I watched, amazed and astounded … like a dreamer in a dream.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Harvey Nichols presents Monique Lhuillier fashion show

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Coral is my new colour crush.

Since I have an absolute revulsion to peach (I think it’s namby-pamby, overwhelming and sickly) I always thought of coral as its relative and so I always dismissed and disregarded it.

How wrong I was!!! I’ve come to realise that coral is glorious.

For starters, it’s cheerful and bold yet feminine. It’s a lot more modern and sophisticated than hot pink which can appear juvenile. Moreover, it works SO well with tanned Arab/Spanish like skin tones.

Yessiree!!!! Whether it’s in the form of matte lipsticks or layered chiffon tulle dresses, I’m LOVING coral these days.

So you can imagine how delighted I was by the sweet coral/sorbet colour palette Monique Lhuillier presented at her exclusive fashion show held at the Kempinski hotel, Palm Jumeirah. The event was held by Harvey Nichols Dubai.

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I arrived at the hotel and was guided to a lovely garden with foilage archways crammed with orange roses – Such a pretty picture! I felt like I just stepped into the Queen of Heart’s garden, from Alice in Wonderland.

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There, amongst the fairytale greenery, a seated runway was set up. The venue was filled with simple chic rose arrangements in square glass vases which were against neat, pristine white outdoor furniture.

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Featuring plenty of soft coral complemented with sharper tangerine, crimson, purples, fuschias and understated nude, the colours just seemed to sing – especially against the lush green garden venue.

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The collection featured some stunning silhouettes – tonnes of billowing floral chiffon and dreamy ethereal sheer dresses.

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I loved the painted and dyed ombre effects on the fabric. There was also delicate , intricate, cut-out applique that resembled glistening beaded “webs” laid on top of the gowns.

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The way the light made all the embellishments shimmer in the sun was just all kinds of awesome.

After the show the statuesque models, dressed in all their finery, joined us for tea and looked divine sauntering around casually on the lawn in their beautiful gowns which floated in the breeze.

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After that, it was time for tea.

We had some of this …

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followed by a bit of that …

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Here’s some of the models in all their glory.

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And lastly, the designer herself!!!

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Rami Kadi’s new collection – Le gala des mysteres

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I did a double take. My pulse quickened. I felt giddy. No joke, that was exactly my sequence of emotions when I saw the new Rami Kadi collection entitled Le Gala des Mysteres. The Lebanese designer has been one of my favorites for quite some time and I was both enchanted and spellbound with his new collection – absolutely breathtaking.

I instantly felt an ATTACK of inspiration and just HAD to draw it immediately because it inspired me so! The collection has such a wonderful dark fairytale element just seething with drama and flair. A tiny bit gothic too, with the baroque-style details and dark bejewelled tones. P.S – just look at those gorgeous fine details on the back – Mamma mia!

What I like about it is the immaculate sense of taste executed throughout. I find alot of Arab designers go OTT on the bling and crystal work, but this is a perfect example of how to layer and use a tonne of embellishment in the right way and knowing when to stop. This results in gowns that glisten irresistibly, like a seductive wink from a mysterious beautiful woman leaving you wanting more.

It’s sophisticated, beautiful with a brothers Grimm appeal and truly the stuff dreams are made of. Bravo!

Check out my illustrations and some photos of the collection.

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Fashion Forward Illustrations

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Only in Dubai can you wear electric blue pleated trousers to a casual trip to the mall and feel somewhat underdressed.

It’s what I love about the city. Others may whine that it’s superficial, flamboyant and OTT, but as a small town girl from Scotland who loved to play dress up and never quite fit in, I say over here La vie en Rose!

I love jumping into all the events this city has to offer with a hungry sense of fervour and gusto. My absolute favorite event being Fashion Forward. If you haven’t heard of Fashion Forward, you must be living under a rock. In a cave. In the desert. Across the sea.
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Although it’s a relatively new event (the first Season started in April this year) the popularity of Fashion Forward has grown to epidemic proportions attracting glamazons from near and far like bees to honey. Not only are there sensational shows during the 4 day event, but extremely educational panel discussions and seminars from successful experts in the design and fashion industry.

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The event is held at Medinat Jumeirah twice a year, and aside from the shows, seminars and snacks – it’s a great opportunity to take out that special little dress bashfully hiding in the corner of the wardrobe just waiting for just the right occasion to come out and play.

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This year I have illustrated some outfits from my favorite collections and a brief summary of each.

The Dima Ayad show featured a striking Indian Summer colour palette mixed with monochrome aztec-like motifs. Rich shades of fuchsia, saffron and cerulean dominated the runway resulting in some gorgeous pieces including billowing silk trousers, and high low ruffled skirts. Wearable, eye-catching and bold – certainly not for wall flowers!
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Pakistani designer Amira Haroon showed exemplary craftsmanship in her stunning collection. She used coloured lace innovatively with peekaboo cut-out design features, fringed detail and just the right about of crystal work paired with bejewelled sumptuous colours. I noticed her collection had a 20’s Gatsby-esque feel to it with the little feather details and make up and hair. Love!
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The House of Fattam was another elegant collection, using rich shades with velvet and beautiful embroidery – particularly on the trousers (I’m totally coveting those and need to get a pair!)It was clear that the designers have drawn inspiration from Eastern culture judging by their attention to detail on the embroidery but fused the western design aesthetic in a wonderfully wearable, contemporary and creative way. The models were styled with interesting tribal like hairstyles and the overall look was ethereal yet exotic.
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Ezra’s mesmerizing show included both the dramatically voluminous and the sleek and statuesque. Floor sweeping gowns in solid brights peppered with pearlescent accents sashayed the runway. Other top picks include figure hugging metallic dresses which gave the appearance of being carved straight from blocks of bronze and innovatively designed sculptural outfits made from a foam like material. All in all it was an amazing show with a gob smacking bridal piece de resistance.

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Essa’s show had a Victorian feel to it with tea stained lace, brooches, bows and ruffles paired with diaphanous chiffon and textured floral embellishments. The collection started off in gothic dark tones like charcoal and black and later on moved into the most beautiful delicate colourful (painted?) printed dresses. It was classy, indulgent and just the right amount of bling!

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Dina JSR’s collection had some great pieces that were interesting and some of the draped silhouettes almost had an origami delicate paper-thin feel to it. Her barely there muted coloured outfits in particular were stunning. I love the really subtle feather motif embroidery layered with delicate fabric. Very pretty and feminine!

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Lastly, official title of “rock star of the fashion scene in Dubai” goes to Amato.

First of all, the que for his show got almost VIOLENT with pushing and shoving by eager and pushy fashion victims up to forty minutes prior to the show.

Hot and bothered, I settled down in my seat – huffy from my “traumatic” ordeal. What followed was nothing short of spectacular (and that’s an understatement). It was a unique twist of Marie Antoinette meets Memoirs of a Geisha with all the drama of Cirque du Soleil. The show was sensationally choreographed and felt more like performance art. The outfits were not only exciting and theatrical, but they were exquisitely beautiful too and successfully accomplishing both qualities can be very challenging, so kudos to the designer.

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I could clearly see the origami-like structures juxtaposed with delicate tulle piled high high high in yards of volume. I was curious about the teddy bears attached to the back of each outfit which offered a kitsch-like element. Perhaps it symbolised childhood or purity?

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The models did not just strut ..they performed…and in the most artistic entertaining and delightful way leading to a climactic showstopping finale. The excited appreciative murmurs from the audience said it all. As they say in Mortal Kombat…Flawless victory.

I couldn’t resist posting a little cheeky “look of the day” thing. Here’s photos of my sister and I enjoying the show.

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And that concludes my article for Fashion Forward. I am now experiencing withdrawl symptoms and do not know what to do with my life now that it’s bereft from the from the exciting razzle dazzle of Fashion Forward. If you need me I shall be in the fetal position in my room rocking back and forth and dreaming of lace, crystal and tulle. *sob*

Battle of the Lebanese Designers – Zuhair Murad

Arab artistians have been making a distinguishable mark in the couture world for a while now. Ever since that famous comical scene in Clueless where Alicia Silverstone is held at gunpoint and kneeling on the floor protesting “But this is an Alaïa!…it’s like this totally important designer!!!”, their skill and attention to detail have not gone amiss.

Lebanese designers in particular, have a unique sense of craftsmanship which they bring to the table in terms of surface ornamentation. In my opinion, they take inspiration from the femininty and sophistication of the more classic French couture silhouettes yet they add a twist by combining their own interpretation of Eastern influences.

Examples of these are intricate embroirderies, sequin, mirror and crystal work and the general drama of theatrical shapes which are drawn from their own Middle Eastern inspired cultures. The delicate balance of this East-Meets-West design philosophy creates an artistic smorgasbord of textures, embellishments and a varied opulent colour palette that packs a punch.

The combination of these several design attributes sucessfully pulled off with a sense of harmony makes the whole Lebanese look recognisable and they consistently prove they can hold their own alongside the likes of Dior and Chanel at Paris Fashion Week. This is not an easy feat to do, considering that the Lebanese do not have nearly as much of a history in couture as the French do, and yet despite this, they are ever growing and fast becoming household names in Hollywood with starlets such as Katy Perry sporting Basil Soda, Blake Lively in Zuhair Murad and Milla Jovovich donned in Elie Saab to name a few.

Blake Lively in a phenomenal grey Zuhair Murad on the set of Gossip Girl

This week the highlight is Zuhair Murad’s couture show 2012. I love the combination of beautiful flattering drapes in soft chiffons in some ensembles, contrasted with the odd sprinkle of modern metallic materials – pulled in such a way that it is über sleek, contemporary and not at all clunky.

I love this catsuit for example – it has a very slick Farah Fawcett in the original Charlie’s Angels look. Notice how the shade of gold is strong enough to make a statement yet not a tacky yellow either. It’s almost like a rose gold, in parts, complemented with stronger ochre based shades. This two-toned look paired with unique looking rope-like embroidery has an extremely dynamic look overall. From the metallic colours to the loose hair paired with that strut that looks like she means buisiness!!! Killer!

This look is more old Hollywood. I adore the champagne tulle paired with black lace on top. Nudes plus black lace – you can almost never go wrong with that look!!! Well …on second thought… you can if you pick a really tacky lace with too much/not enough negative space in it … but as per usual Zuhair has just the right ratio of lace to negative space. He deliberately uses appliqué work to highlight and flatter the female form emphasising the hourglass shape in an arrow like patterns on certain parts of the gown giving a fabulously streamlined elongated look. I love the fishtail too, and the how the lace eventually dissolves into nothingness before it reaches the end avoiding an overpowered look. He knows exactly when to quit.

Sleek and slick and siren-esque all the way – this simple bronze dress is made entirely out of metallic materials – im not sure if it’s type of Lamé fabric or tiny sequins/ beadwork but whatever it is, this gown is a great example of how a gown can sparkle in all it’s glory yet still appear very simple and elegant at the same time. Notice the draped detail at the waist –further showcasing a woman’s best asset.

Last but not least this strapless dusky pink number is very romantic and I love the subtle bejewelled crystal parts of it peeking through the draping – giving a subtle glimmer in certain light. With the patched criss cross technique he’s used all the way through the torso and hips, this one has a beautiful sculpted feel to it. Trés chic!

More to come on other Lebanese designers soon …. What are your personal faves? Would love to hear about them below!