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.
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)