Chasing a Dream with Elie Saab

It was supposed to be another star-studded Spring-Summer show for Elie Saab in Paris yesterday. Except this fashionable affair was unlike any other in the designer’s history! As each model strutted down the catwalk, a story about Beirut’s golden age was reflected from the dress she wore; stories about the city that never slept, endless parties, eternal beauty and youth, and a personal reverie of Saab‘s mother wearing a tulip print dress.




This is Elie Saab in all his glory; exploring new patterns and colors, introducing feathers to his collections, reviving low heeled satin sandals, putting on an elaborate show- as if from a fairytale, and ultimately, paying homage to his Beirut!




Now, let the pictures do the rest of the talking..








All images courtesy of style.com


Best & Worst Dressed at the 2015 SAG Awards!

It was a night of glitz and glamour as actors honored their fellow actors in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Here are the most memorable gowns from the evening along with those we all really want to forget!

Although this look is nowhere close to her breath-taking sighting 2 weeks ago, Julianne Moore dazzles once again in Givenchy. Although I’m not a fan of the tank top design and the somewhat messy hair, the emerald color is simply stunning and the intricate beading is flawless, and those purple Chopard earrings are not so bad either!


julianne moore



Reese Witherspoon continues her winning red carpet streak and shows up in a custom-made Giorgio Armani white one-sleeved gown. The blond beauty adds major bling thanks to 3.5 million dollars worth of Harry Winston diamonds.



reese with


Modern Family’s Julie Bowen makes her return to the red carpet thanks to a flawless design by George Hobeika. The flirty floral patterned design hugs the actress’ frame and compliments it perfectly.



julie bowen


Red carpet darling Naomi Watts wows in an off-the-shoulder navy Balenciaga gown. Once again, the actress flaunts her perfect diamonds from the BVLGARI along with a matching clutch from the Italian brand.


naomi watts


The stunning Khaleesi- also known by her real name, Emilia Clarke walks the carpet with so much sophistication and poise. The uber sexy Brit stuns in a black and navy Donna Karan gown and perfect Cartier jewels.


emilia clarke


Jennifer Aniston gives Sofia Vergara a run for her money and takes a deep plunge in a vintage Galliano paisley print gown. The “Cake” actress adds her favorite gold body chain and goes for a blow-dry that just works.


jen aniston




In turn, newly engaged Sofia Vergara drops jaws in a killer Donna Karan Atelier red corset and flowing train combo. The Modern Family actress kept her hair simple and accessorized with her stunning engagement sparkler.


sofia vergara


Emma Stone is an absolute winner on the red carpet! She takes a major risk and shows up in a Dior Haute Couture tuxedo jacket dress that is absolutely flawless! The actress keeps her hair and make-up simple and slips into a pair of sexy strappy Louboutins to complete her Best Dressed look.


emma stone



Felicity Jones chose a beautiful Balenciaga design for the SAGs. It’s too bad that she selected a powder pink version of the gown, because the color completely washes her out.


felicity jones


Claire Danes may not be the train-wreck she was at the Golden Globes, but that doesn’t make her look any better. This Marc Jacobs halter design could have interesting if it weren’t for that busy contrasting belt and stone accents on the sides- yes stone accents!


claire danes



If you’re feeling an intolerable urge to rip-off Julia Roberts‘ weird looking satin-like pelvis? “pockets”, rest assured, you’re not alone. Roberts’ Givenchy jumpsuit’s tailoring is completely off and those black peep-toes look one size too big/worn out!



julia roberts



Keira Knightley: still pregnant, still on the worst dressed list. Although the shade of purple of this Erdem gown is amazing against her skin-tone, Knightley once again chooses to hide her baby bump under layers and layers of unnecessary fabric! Impatiently waiting for this once fashion icon and Chanel darling to wow us again!



keira knightly



And last but not least, Modern Family’s Ariel Winter brings the teenage cleavage to the SAGs red carpet courtesy of a winter white Zac Posen gown. Mind you, the actress is only 16 years old and although I read somewhere that she has trouble dressing for her body type, this look is too much dress and a whole lot of face paint for someone who is obviously going out on a school night!


ariel winter


Carmel + Vanilla is 2 Years Old!

Carmel + Vanilla turned 2 yesterday! It seems like it was just a few days ago that I found myself wondering whether it was the right time or not to start a fashion and lifestyle blog. It’s amazing how fast time flies, right? In retrospect, I’m so happy to see my young blog grow and expand to more readers as the days pass. So, to celebrate, I’m turning back time and sharing my favorite 5 posts fro the past two years with you. Read on to discover more!


Best and Worst Dressed and The Post that Started it All!

I’m beyond obsessed with E!’s red carpet coverage shows. Long before Carmel + Vanilla even existed, I used to tune in until 3.00 am to watch what my favorite celebrities wore to the red carpet. In fact, this blog kicked off with a Best Dressed post, following the 2013 Golden Globe Awards. Go down memory lane with me and read the post here.




A Rewarding Experience and Giving Back at an Elderly Home:

Sometimes we get caught up in our issues and forget how truly blessed and lucky we are to have family and friends who are there to support us through thick and thin. In the summer of 2013, I visited an elderly home in Mansourieh in hopes of bringing smiles to those who might have lost hope in life. This day was truly inspirational and invite you to read about it here.


old home


Discovering Charbel Zoe and My Most Viewed Post Ever:

I remember that day like it were yesterday. On Thursday, June 12th, 2014- as I was in pain way over my head with a severe case of streptococcus- Jennifer Lopez appeared on TV at the opening of the 2014 World Cup in a drop dead gorgeous leotard. Who was the designer? I just had to find out! Turns out it was Lebanese newcomer Charbel Zoe and it wasn’t even the first time he collaborated with the hot Latina. This information inspired my most viewed post ever, entitled: 4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Lebanese Designer behind JLo’s Outfit at the World Cup Opening Ceremony! I’m thrilled to see how   mega successful Charbel has become, even opening his own boutique on Melrose last month!




Dining in Style – Everywhere!

While having dinner at the Four Seasons in early February 2013, I decided to start a “Dining in Style” section on Carmel + Vanila. The culinary experiences that I shared with friends and family were largely documented on the blog in this section. Here’s to more yummy food in the coming year!



dining in style


Meeting an International Lebanese Designer: One-on-One with Rabih Keyrouz:

It was a dream come true! I couldn’t believe how down to earth and inspirational Rabih Keyrouz was. It was a delight and a pleasure to meet him over a signature cup of pomegranate juice in his atelier in Beirut in 2014. Read my interview with him here.






A big thank you goes out to everyone who encouraged me to carry on and write on a continuous basis. Special thanks to Ralph who is my go-to blog tech-guru- I couldn’t do it without you!

Here’s to another year of blogging!


Forever 21: Now Open in Beirut!

Finally! My favorite fast fashion store landed in Beirut on Saturday, January 17th!





A day earlier, the brand invited media and bloggers for a private pre-opening which included a fashion show featuring several looks from the brand’s current collection.


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A little background info: Forever 21 was founded by Do Won Chang in 1984. 30 years later, the brand is widely present through more than 600 stores in the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, Russia, and the Middle East. Their design concepts mainly target bohemian, girly, edgy, and “now” girls.


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Don’t forget to check out Forever 21- now open at City Center Beirut!


Best & Worst Dressed at the Golden Globe Awards 2015!

Awards season officially kicked off on Sunday with the Golden Globes taking place in Los Angeles. After a very rainy weekend in the California city, the stars came out in their beautiful designer gowns to walk the red carpet. Several trends were noticed but the most memorable ones were metallics, reds, whites, and  blacks, as always. Let’s take a look at the most memorable gowns from last night and check out who was best and worst dressed.

Shiny Metallics

Hollywood’s A list dazzled in mesmerizing metallics! Julianne Moore led the way in a custom-made Givenchy strapless gown featuring ombre sequins and feathers at the hem and completed her look with Chopard jewels. The breath-taking Diane Kruger wowed in Emilia Wickstead! Although the German actress was all covered up, she still looked stunning while doing so! America’s sweetheart a.k.a Reese Witherspoon brought sexy back in a flawless strapless Calvin Klein dress and stunning diamonds, while Kate Beckinsale took the plunge in a low-cut Elie Saab. Let’s also not forget the forever young Jennifer Lopez- who proves time and time again- that she is one of THE hottest celebrities out there. The sexy latina was once again loyal to Zuhair Murad, who put her in this insanely sexy plunging, mid thigh-high slit gown!



Jennifer lopez


Festive Reds

While some stars wowed in metallics, others were still enjoying the festive season and showed up in red. Two celebrities in specific stood out in the holiday color: Allison Williams blew everyone away with her strapless Armani Privé ball gown while Heidi Klum took everyone’s breath away (finally!) in a sexy, yet glamorous Versace.



Winter Whites

You can always count on the beyond beautiful Kate Hudson to bring the sexy to the red carpet. Goldie’s daughter turned heads in a sexy plunging and cut-out white Versace gown. She balanced the sexy out by putting her hair up in a demure updo. Emily Blunt also seemed to be a fan of cutouts, selecting a custom-made Michael Kors.



Nude Neutrals

Chrissy Tiegan went to Zuhair Murad who made sure that she looked sexy in sheer for the red carpet event, while Anna Kendrick channeled Cinderella in her girly Monique Lhuiller gown.




Dark Ladies

Lorde looked age appropriate in her fun custom-made Narciso Rodriguez pantsuit. The songstress’ hair may have been in distress but her jaw-dropping Neil Lane statement diamond necklace will surely divert your attention. Jennifer Aniston stayed in her comfort zone by slipping into a black halter Saint Laurent gown. While she looked beautiful, I would have loved to see her in something more daring; moreover, the halter strap is a little too 90s for 2015. I don’t blame you in case you mistakenly identified Jessica Chastain as Sofia Vergara; the red head took a page out of Vergara’s book and slipped into a va-va-voom plunging bronze Versace that hugged her curves perfectly.




A Colorful Winter

Any best dressed list is incomplete without the stunning Naomi Watts who wowed in yellow in the middle of January! The Aussie beauty chose Gucci for the globes and perfectly accessorized her look with a BVLGARI serpenti necklace. Possibly one of my favorites of the night, Jenna Dewan Tatum, was a vision in a ruffled strapless Carolina Herrera!


Naomi Watts

Jenna Dewan


On the opposite end of the list, here’s Amy Adams in a one shoulder Versace. I love Amy Adams and most of the time, her choices are spot on. However, I really feel like this powder blue gown washes her out; I just wish she had went for a darker version or added a dark lip for some drama.


Amy Adams


Tina Fey looks like she’s going to her school prom instead of a red carpet show. The funny lady disappoints in a strapless Antonio Berrardi cocktail gown, as it appears as if she sowed on that extra layer of white fabric minutes before the show..


Tina Fey


Claire Danes‘ fashion choices usually land her on the best dressed list. However, her Valentino disaster looks too medieval for the 21st century. The design is too busy and the actress’ body seems to have disappeared somewhere in between all these prints.


Claire Danes


Lena Dunham shows you how NOT to wear red on the carpet. The Girls actress dons an asymmetrical Zac Posen dress with several busy cuts, and that’s not even the worst of it: her hideous shoes need to be burnt asap!


Lena Dunham


Lupita Nyong’o may have been last year’s red carpet darling, but the Kenyan actress is starting off 2015 on a bad note. Although the bust of her Giambattista Valli gown is exploding with perfectly arranged flowers, the midriff section looks like a New Year’s Eve cotillion cotillion gone wrong.


Lupita Nyong'o


Kate Mara is also another actress who usually gets it right. However, last night was another story. Her red Miu Miu gown looks great from afar, but take a closer look and the ruched detailing on both sides of her pelvic area is quite distracting. Also not helping is that tan belt which needs to be burnt along with Lena Dunham’s shoes.


Kate Mara


Another year, another failed look. Maggie Gyllenhal is on a winning worst dressed list streak by wearing this Miu Miu bed sheet. The bust details are beyond awkward and the gown needs to be ironed.




Lana Del Rey may be young and beautiful, but sure isn’t best dressed. The singer chose this turquoise dress? that’s all sorts of wrong. I don’t even know who the designer is, but this crime is too much to look at.


Lana Del Rey


I loved Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl. It’s also hard to believe that the British beauty just had a baby just a month ago.. Her Vera Wang dress really would have been perfect, if only it had the right fit. Considering its current state, this gown looks like a wardrobe malfunction ready to happen any minute!


Rosamund Pike


It’s hard to believe that Keira Knightly’s Chanel dress reportedly took almost 30 hours to make. I mean how hard it is to cut up a piece of fabric that has hundreds of species of butterflies and sow it into a dress? Yes she’s pregnant and yes it is wrong to make fun of pregnant women, but seriously now, there’s an almost actual living butterfly on her wrist too! There’s is no excuse for this crime against butterflies whatsoever!




All pictures are courtesy of People.com & Eonline.com


See Amal Alamuddin’s Dress from Last Night’s Golden Globe Awards!

The world went wild when George Clooney got out of his limo at last night’s Golden Globe awards. The A list actor brought along his stunning Lebanese bride, lawyer Amal Alamuddin.

As soon as hot twosome stepped onto the red carpet, media outlets were competing to get the first word from the newly married couple.


Expectations were high since Amal- known for her understated and classy style- wowed fans with several couture gowns throughout her Venice wedding to Clooney a few months back. So, what she did end up wearing to the red carpet event? Amal wore a classic and strapless black custom-made Dior couture gown featuring a statement one shoulder cape. Mrs. Clooney complimented her look with gloves that she sowed herself (seriously!) and a white clutch purse. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the satin gloves; I’m pretty sure the lawyer would have stunned more if she had dropped them, but it was nice to see her adding a personal touch that looked as if it were inspired by a night at the opera. Her hair- although long and flowing- could have also been wore up in a classic chignon to let the dress do all the talking and showcase her stunning 29 carat Harry Winston earrings. However, it must be said that Mrs. George Clooney looked glamorous, timeless, and blended into the A list crowd for her first post-wedding red carpet!



amal alamuddin


As for George himself, well the actor wore – wait for it- his Armani wedding tux to the Globes: the tux was personally designed by Giorgio Armani and combines a blend of ultra wool and cashmere.




For more on the Golden Globes’ best and worst fashion moments, be sure to stay tuned for another post coming up a little later today.

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Beauty Essentials your Skin Needs to Survive the Chilly Weather this Week

With temperatures rumored to hit freezing levels this week, you’re all probably reaching for your thermal sweaters, wool trench coats, and furry boots.
However, as the days get shorter and your anticipation to go home, hug your bed, and wish you could hibernate until the storm is over, there’s one element that you should not neglect: your skin.


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The harsh cold is what often contributes to dry skin which in turns rids your skin of its natural glow. To fight this, here are a few beauty essentials that your skin will need to survive:

Your face:
If you normally moisturize your skin once a day, it might be a good idea to double up on your routine and apply your face cream twice (morning and night). A great moisturizer is Clarins’ Daily Energizer Cream which perfectly hydrates, reflects freshness, and provides your skin with a healthy winter glow.


clarins face
Your lips:
Your lips have probably been chapped for at least a month now, but harsh temperatures will increase the dryness and may even cause bleeding. Maintain your signature pout by using lip balm every 2-3 hours and patting your lips with a damp cloth throughout the day.




Your hands:
Washing your hands (specifically with very hot water or very cold water) will cause them to dry in the days ahead. Invest in a good hand cream to combat the dryness: Bath and Body Works’ Warm Vanilla Sugar cream will give your skin a creamy feel, Clarins’ Hand and Nail Treatment Cream will soften your hands and strengthen your nails (tried and tested!), while the medicated Glycerodermine is perfect for overnight application. It would also be a good idea to moisturize after every hand wash.



Your feet:
You may think that your feet are tucked away in warm socks and furry boots, but all these long hours will take a toll on them. Take off your socks before bedtime and let your toes breathe. You can also apply a designated foot cream-what better treatment for your feet than Scholl’s Foot Therapy- to combat dryness.


Your eyes:
Work or university commitments will always require you to look presentable. In this case, water-proof mascara is your best friend. The cold weather coupled with high winds will cause your eyes to tear up; invest in a great waterproof product that won’t have you reaching for the nearest Kleenex. Dior has some of the best beauty products in the market and their waterproof mascara is a makeup essential that you will use until the last stroke.




What are some of your favorite winter beauty essentials?


5 Best Dressed Stars from 2014

The new year marks the arrival of the all-important awards season. In just a few days’ time, Hollywood’s A list will be flooding LA’s red carpets, decked out in designer wear, sparkling jewels, and sky- high heels.

In honor of this impending season, let’s take a look back at some of last year’s best dressed stars!

Lupita Nyong’o was just another name early last year. But, in a few week’s time the Kenyan beauty walked away with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years A Slave and hit every best dressed list along the way. Who can forget her coral “cape” moment courtesy of Ralph Lauren at the Golden Globes or her “Nairobi” blue Prada gown at the Oscars?




When you think of Sofia Vergara, the first words that come to mind are: bombshell, latina, hot, sexy, among others. At 42, this drop-dead gorgeous Columbian keeps getting hotter as the days go by. Although Vergara is often criticized for wearng the same silhouette every red carpet, she still managed to wow audience in 2014 with a show stopping white Roberto Cavalli at the Emmys. The actress switched things up at the Golden Globe Awards by putting on a flawless black Zac Posen gown and accessorized it with a breath-taking Laurraine Schwartz statement necklace.




She was pregnant for most of 2014, but Olivia Wilde looked hotter than ever as her pregnancy advanced. Her prime moment was when she walked the red carpet wearing an amazing emerald Gucci sequined dress that accentuated her baby bump flawlessly. She completed her look with Forevermark diamonds and the best ombre hair you’ve ever seen!


Olivia Wilde



Kate Hudson is no stranger to best dressed lists! Although the actress was spotted wearing a similar color palette throughout the year, she was a winner every time! Her most memorable moments include a plunging sparkling caped Atelier Versace gown at the Academy Awards and a Gucci Premiere one-shouldered dress at the LACMA Art & Film Gala.




After a quiet 2013, Blake Lively made a fashion come-back in 2014! The former Gossip Girl turned heads during every red carpet event in every corner of the world. The actress was on a winning streak during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where she dazzled in 3 FLAWLESS Gucci gowns and tons of diamonds!




All images are courtesy of Eonline.com


4 Fun Activities to do this Weekend to Beat the Holiday-End Blues!

If you just woke up from your New Year’s Eve slumber, chances are you’re pretty down now that the holidays are over. However, I’m here to tell you that although Christmas and New Year have come and gone in the blink of an eye (seriously!) there are plenty of fun things to do this weekend to ease you into the new month and help you forget that life will go back to normal on Monday.

Visit the Gingerbread!

A group of local artists have come together to showcase paintings, photos, holiday arrangements, candles, jewelry, pottery, and ceramics. This is all part of the Gingerbread Artist Christmas Exhibition that is running until January 15th.  The exhibition marks the beginning of a series of events that will initiate a new movement called “Loyal to Local” in order to start the trend of shopping, eating, spending, and enjoying local. For more details, click here.




You can never go wrong with wine!

Spend this rainy weekend getting lost in one of Lebanon’s local wineries.  If you’ve spent a lot in between Christmas gifts and New Year’s Eve plans, then Ixsir gives you a reason to continue to celebrate by organizing wine tours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday along with wine tasting sessions that are completely free of charge.




Visit the Arnaoon Christmas Village!

The charming village which is perfectly nestled in Batroun, welcomes you with fully decked-out Christmas inspired activities for the whole family to enjoy. The venue will also be showcasing a special small recycled village until January 6th.




Hit the Sales!

The best way to beat the holiday blues is to literally shop till you drop! The first week of January marks the beginning of the winter season sales in most of our beloved boutiques. So, gather your girlfriends and book a full day of shopping to stock up on your favorite winter essentials at your most loved stores.