BEIRUT — As the list of names of Lebanese designers showing during Paris Couture Week grows, one regular came back home to Beirut this season.
“I felt in a way that I need to do something in my country,” said designer Basil Soda. “We left because of the war in 2006.”
Throughout the ensuing difficulties, he continued to operate his atelier from Beirut but showed in Paris. This season he brought his collection home because, he said, “we need to change the mood here.”
His spring couture collection was unveiled in a presentation format to local media, buyers and international guests. Inspired by Pieris butterflies, the collection was rendered in sheer fabrics — tulle, chiffon and lace."
“Everyone who knows me knows I’m a little bit aggressive, so I took my woman to a garden,” said Soda, explaining the delicate nature of the collection.
In keeping with the hard lines and cuts that have come to define the designer, he juxtaposed the softness of the butterfly by exposing what he calls the inner skeleton. “When you see an image in an X ray, you see a lot of details that are not known,” he explained. Each piece is a combination of two dresses layered over one another, the softness of the butterfly juxtaposed against the X ray underneath.
With the help of celebrity placement agents and stylists, Soda’s couture creations have become quite popular on the red carpet. He has dressed Marion Cotillard, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Morena Baccarin.
He said the exposure has done a lot for the business. “One of the best things we’ve done is working on the red carpet. This reflects in sales. When you start doing ready-to-wear, the buyers taking your brand are interesting in seeing your visibility. Visibility through the red carpet is excellent,” he said, hastening to add, “I don’t want to be only a red-carpet designer.”
His rtw, now in its fifth season, is gaining traction. He currently sells in nine markets, including the U.S., France, Russia and the Middle East. He produces 1,200 pieces a season at his atelier in Beirut. As demand increases, he hopes to move production to Milan. Next season he will also launch his accessories line, as well as his second ad campaign, featuring model Jessica Stam.
Though he will again show couture in Paris, bringing his couture collection back to Beirut was partly business-driven. “For the couture, we still rely on our customers from the Middle East,” said Soda. Lebanon has a long tradition of couture, catering to Middle Eastern clients who spend lavishly, especially on weddings.
Soda said he employs 75 tailors and 35 embroiderers, mostly for the couture business. He spent four years working for fellow Lebanese designer Elie Saab, whom he considers a good friend. “I admire him, I respect him, he’s a person I love,” he said. “I left only because I wanted to open my own.”
Soda said he opted for a presentation instead of a runway show in Beirut because logistically it is difficult to bring models, as well as production crews, into Lebanon. However, he said things at home are evolving at a rapid pace.
“There is a generation here. I want to work with stylists here. There is a new vibe happening, they have a different sense of fashion. I’m still very attached,” he said.
Taking the final spot on the mens’ portion of New York Fashion Week calendar next month will be none other than @tomford. Though he’s shown his men’s wear in New York in the past, this will mark the first time the designer has shown his men’s collection alone during New York Fashion Week: Men’s. His runway show will debut on February 6 at the Park Avenue Armory. #wwdfashion
London-based couture house @ralphandrusso has certainly been in the spotlight, having its dresses worn by @beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle in her engagement photos and more. For couture, Tamara Ralph focused on ornamentation — think: feathers with chain mail, jet embroidery and clusters of pearls and crystals. See the rest of the collection on WWD.com #wwdfashion #couture (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
Minnie Mouse celebrated her 90th birthday by getting her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For her celebratory luncheon, @coach’s creative director @stuartvevers dressed her in a custom made prairie dress, complete with Vever’s take on the polka dot – black sequined versions – under a cropped motorcycle jacket. The designer also put his own mark on Minnie’s classic red shoes, infusing the color with sparkles and adding some Coach crystals. “We chose colors that were very Minnie and also represented quintessential Coach elements,” said Vevers. #wwdfashion #nationalpolkadotday (📷: George Chinsee)
@nickjonas is unveiling his first-ever apparel collection through a partnership with John Varvatos. The limited-edition capsule, which makes its debut in spring, also marks the first time the designer has collaborated with anyone on a line. “The process in working with Nick is amazing. It’s inspiring to be around someone who is not only connected with the trade that they do, but also with what’s happening in the environment around him, and how that connects to what we do with style,” said Varvatos. (RG: @johnvarvatos) #wwdfashion
@margotrobbie steps out onto the red carpet wearing @miumiu. The actress is nominated for “Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role” in “I, Tonya” at the #SagAwards. (📷: Stewart Cook) #wwdfashion
For @massimogiorgetti of @msgm, the Nineties are his favorite decade. “They had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything,” he said. As seen on MSGM’s Spring 2018 show: tie-dye and a bit of grunge, two styles that are synonymous with the decade #wwdfashion #wwddecades (📷: @kukukuba)