It was a sunny Tuesday in March. Shortly after 11 AM, I walked into Rabih Kayrouz’ Atelier located in the port district. As the doors closed behind me, the hustle and bustle of the city was drowned out and it was as if I were lifted into another world filled with color and life. In the distance, I spotted Rabih Kayrouz carefully selecting a skirt and discussing it with a lady, as if they were putting an outfit together. That’s just the person my one on one with Rabih proved him to be; attentive, meticulous, and truly ready and willing to offer his clients the absolute best.
Some time passed and I continued to observe Rabih do what he’s become so famous for. You see, just a week earlier the Lebanese designer presented what many would arguably declare his best fashion show to date, entitled “Barbès-Batroun”, at Paris Fashion Week. Everyone was talking about the FW 14-15 collection that simply put, is “Paris with a blend”.
I was taking a tour around the atelier when Rabih joined me. We introduced ourselves and we continued the tour. The displayed collection in the boutique is Rabih’s Spring-Summer 2014 line called “Ray”. As you can imagine, the colors, designs, silhouettes, and every single detail was impeccable. “Ray” is simply “concentrated sensuality, a motion that sometimes covers, occasionally not, suspends a dress or straps the body. So beautiful it makes your heart drum”.
After Rabih showed me the collection, he directed us to sit on a tiny staircase by the atelier’s entrance and that’s when the conversation flowed..
C+V: Throughout the design process, do you ask yourself: who is going to wear this item or what purpose does it serve?
RK : The process is a mixture of thoughts. There is a lot of soul in a collection that comes from within and represents something I want to express. That is the essence of what I do. Some people write or dance; I express myself through design. Every season and every collection represents a story that I want to tell. The essence of the story is to make garments that are wearable and that make women feel beautiful whenever they wear a certain item from my collection.
C+V: As an audience, we only get to see the finished collection, the perfect dress on a stunning model as she walks down the runway. How do we arrive at a point where everything is complete and perfect?
RK: It’s the job! You know? After 6 months of continuous work, you finally get to a point where everything is complete. Hundreds of people are involved in the making of a collection including the Maison Rabih Kayrouz team, the production and fashion show teams, as well as sound and lighting technicians. All these individuals share a common goal and work towards accomplishing it using the same inspiration and values. This collective effort allows us to present something truly interesting.
C+V: What do you consider to be your favorite and least favorite element in this entire process?
RK: I enjoy what I do incredibly, so if I had to choose, I would say that my least favorite part is actually my favorite; when you have this doubt that everything is wrong and will not work..then suddenly, this magic makes its way in and everything is just right and as perfect as it should be. I have to say that I do enjoy this moment, because I am sure that something wonderful will follow after!
C+V: If we were to talk about the SS14 “Rays” collection, what can you tell us about it?
RK: In this collection, I wanted to tell a story about light. Light is extremely inspirational to me, because if it weren’t for light, there would be no life. I chose different colors along with a variety of fabrics. As I said earlier, every element is carefully chosen so that a conclusive collection comes together, “Rays” is no different.
C+V: What can you tell me about FW 14-15 Barbès-Batroun?
RK: The collection is a story of two cities, Barbès and Batroun coming together in a mixture of prints and a rich blend of culture.
C+V: In your opinion, how does the European audience react to this culture blend?
RK: To me, Europeans seem to find culture blends inspiring. In today’s world, every country enjoys a culture mix, and I believe that fashion has to react and have a say in this. Since I spend my time between Lebanon and France, I find myself relating to this movement and I wanted to express it in the most authentic way possible.
And that’s exactly the type of person Rabih Kayrouz is; authentic and genuine!