Zeroing in on the couture process, Rabih Kayrouz relayed the journey of one sensuous dress — from a sketch in the designer’s base in Beirut at 320 Rue Gouraud to its painstaking creation at his Paris atelier at 38 Boulevard Raspail.
“With what’s happening in the world, with what’s happening in my country…it wasn’t easy to go and create things, that is, to do a collection; I thought it was a bit disrespectful to launch into new creations and collections — over-creating and overproducing,” he said, speaking from Beirut through a WhatsApp call.
Kayrouz worked with artist and film director Nasri Sayegh for the film, entitled “320/38,” in reference to the two addresses. It starts out with images of Beirut — trees swaying in front of apartment buildings — and closes with a model twirling around in the bright orange dress in an empty Paris workshop, dancing across the well-worn wooden parquet. Further bridging the two cities, the sensual voice of Shadia carries the audience through the film, punctuated with music.
“Haute couture is a process, not a lifestyle. It’s a savoir-faire, it’s a process that doesn’t exist in ready-to-wear, the techniques take more time,” Kayrouz said.
Furthermore, he stressed, it is not about decoration and embroidery.
For three seasons, the couturier has been using ribbons to make dresses, using a technique similar to weaving thread to make fabric — yet at an enlarged scale, offering an eyeful of the construction in all its intricacy.
Made from orange ribbon, the dress’ bodice molds perfectly to the model’s upper body — sleeveless, with simple geometric lines. The skirt is long and full, with even, undulating pleats.
“I love architecture, but I don’t like decor; I love clothing, but I don’t like fashion…I love what’s at the heart of things,” he said.
So many of us are rattling on about pushing away the superfluous and getting down to the essentials — the craving is universal, it seems, but Kayrouz shows how this can be done: with skill and intense conviction.