From cutting newspaper patterns as a child to opening his atelier at the age of eighteen in Beirut, the journey of eponymous brand Elie Saab is truly entrepreneurial and inspirational.
Born and bred in Damour, a coastal suburb of Beirut, Elie Saab learnt sewing when he was nine and dressed his sister in textiles from their mother’s cupboard, which he would sew together. In 1981, Saab moved to Paris for a formal education in Fashion but dropped out in a year to return to war-torn Beirut in 1975. The following year, at eighteen, the young man launched his eponymous brand and opened his atelier. At that time, it specialised in bridal couture handcrafted with expensive fabric, lace, embroidery, pearls, crystals and silk threads.
In 1997, Elie Saab became the first non-Italian designer to be invited to National Chamber of Italian Fashion, the governing body for Milan Fashion Week, where he showed his ready-to-wear. Shortly, he was invited by Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the governing body for the Fresh fashion industry, to become a member. The following year, the fashion brand diversified into ready-to-wear and accessories followed by a collaboration with Beauté Prestige International for fragrance and cosmetics. During the same year, he held a fashion show in Monaco, with Princess Stéphanie of Monaco in attendance, and it quickly became the go-to brand for haute couture. In 1999, one of his evening gowns lavishly hand embroidered with emeralds and diamonds was reportedly sold for $2.4 million.
Elie Saab became a popular brand in the United States after he became the first Lebanese designer to dress Oscar winner Halle Berry in 2002. Combining Western silhouettes and silhouettes with Middle Eastern aesthetic for ornate embellishment, Saab’s evening-wear earned him accolades and he collaborated with Pronovias to handcraft a bridal line, Elie by Elie Saab. In 2011, Madame Tussaud unveiled a statue of Kate Winslet draped in Elie Saab, a dress she had worn at Primetime Emmy Awards. The same year, Elie Saab launched his first fragrance, Le Parfum.
The luxury brand became so popular among the A-list that Kate Middleton wore Elie Saab while attending the 2019 Royal Ascot with her husband, Prince William. Increasingly sought out by celebrities, there was no one who didn’t want to wear Elie Saab, from Halle Berry, Beyoncé, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta Jones, Salma Hayek and Sandra Bullock to Princess Claire of Luxembourg, Victoria: Crown Princess of Sweden, Queen Raina of Jordon, Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Marie-Chantal: Crown Princess of Greece, Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein, Clotilde: Princess of Venice and Piedmont. The fashion brand opened boutiques in Beirut, Dubai, Doha, Paris, London, Geneva, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York City and Mexico while the ready-to-wear and fragrance is sold worldwide including stockists Net-a-porter, Matches-fashion, Mytheresa and Farfetch.
Per Vogue, “The couturier’s work is defined by craftsmanship. ‘Every dress in the haute couture collection is a piece of art, a piece of jewellery handed down from one generation to another. It carries emotional and traditional value. It creates stories in every home,’ he says. ‘I never exaggerate in my designs. I don’t follow fashion.'”
Saab’s son, Elie Saab Jr, soon took over the role of brand director. In April 2019, Saab announced his expansion into interior design, through a collaboration with real estate development company Emaar to create a gated island property at Emaar Beachfront, Dubai that boasts views of the Arabian Sea, The Palm and Dubai Marina. Sadly, Elie Saab’s office and headquarters were damaged by the explosion in Beirut and his home was destroyed. Despite this, the designer resolutely presented his next collection.
Per Nicole Phelps, Vogue, “Elie Saab and his team are delivering profiles in perseverance along with their latest pre-fall collection. Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, the designer lost his home and atelier in the tragic Beirut explosion, yet the brand carries on… In this collection Saab, famed for his embellished evening dresses, focused on day-to-evening wear… Some women might find his 9-to-5 looks appropriate for after dark…”
To design haute couture custom-made dresses that creates an image of unique design, quality and high status for the elite of world.
To manifest dreams with needle, thread and impeccable craftsmanship.
CEO Elie Saab; Brand Director and son of the renowned designer, Elie Saab Jr.
Elie Saab has been worn by Queen Rania of Jordan; Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden; Princess Madeleine of Sweden; Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece; and Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. In 1999, Queen Rania of Jordan wore Elie Saab for her enthronement. Countess Stéphanie and the Hereditary Grand Duke married in a civil ceremony married in 2012, where the bride wore a dress designed by Elie Saab. First Lady of France, Brigitte Macron, wore an Elie Saab outfit of military coat and skinny trousers during a state visit to China. Among his notable achievements is that he was the first non-Italian fashion designer to be accepted into the Camera Nazionale della Moda. Shortly, in 2003, he was invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris to be a member.