A Precocious Vocation
was born in Beirut on 4th July, 1964 to a wood merchant and a housewife. He was the eldest of a five-member family. Saab’s interest in dressmaking started at the young age of 9. He spent much of his free time cutting patterns and drawing sketches for his sisters using his mother’s tablecloths and curtains. The talent of this young boy spread rapidly through the neighbourhood, allowing him to create a small network of loyal clients.
He pursued studies in this field but quickly became bored, being already a master in the art the dressmaking and its know-how. In 1982, at the age of 18,opened his couture atelier in Beirut with 15 employees back.
In the following months, he presented his first collection to a public of young women, immediately won over by the talent of this autodidact artist, who was soon renowned for creating ultra-feminine dresses. His reputation rapidly transcended his country’s borders, attracting women from high society who desired andress.
In 1997, Elie Saab was invited to take part in the prestigious Camera Nazionale della Moda as the only non-Italian designer among an anthology of Italian designers, a true privilege. He showed his couture collection in Rome for three consecutive years before he was invited in 2000 by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show his collection in the French capital. Every year he presented two couture collections in Paris.
In 1998, Elie Saab launched his ready-to-wear collection during the Milan Fashion Week, a fall/winter 1998-1999 collection, to rave reviews. The collection experienced tremendous success and garnered sales worldwide in Paris, London, Madrid, Moscow, Los Angeles, Hong Kong…
In 2002, Elie Saab opened a couture house in Paris’s eighth arrondissement, to satisfy his cosmopolitan and international clientele, as well as a showroom presenting his chic and elegant ready-to-wear and couture collections to clients from all around the world.
In 2005, Elie Saab opened his new couture house in the very heart of the reconstructed downtown Beirut. The five-floor, very modern building, houses his ateliers, design studio, accessories and ready-to-wear boutique, couture house and bridal salon.
In October of the same year, the couturier showed for the first time his ready-to-wear collection during Paris Fashion Week. Suits, cocktail dresses and evening gowns were paired with handbags, and a new line of leather items and accessories was born. This first fashion show was highly acclaimed by buyers and was much talked about in the international media.
In November 2006, Elie Saab was nominated as ‘Membre Correspondant’ by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
In April 2007, the Couturier confirmed his would make Paris his second home, by inaugurating a 1000 m² flagship store in the very heart of the 8th arrondissement. This new space was to be found at 1, Rond-Point des Champs Elysées; a historical address, where the finest French couturiers had showed their collections, the three-floor building presented the brand’s entire universe, including the ready-to-wear and accessories lines as well as the Haute Couture collections in the adjacent salons.
In July 2008, Saab continued to expand his business internationally by opening his first UK boutique in London, on the first floor of the prestigious department store Harrods, and another one in June 2010, in Dubai, on the first floor of the luxury circle of the esteemed Dubai Mall.
A Whole Glamorous Line
Always on the move, Elie Saab’s style is a unique fusion of western and eastern cultures, renewing itself with each and every collection. Elie Saab strives for perfection and applies this approach to the whole art of living, an idea inherited from his Lebanese origins. He is particularly fond of modern architecture and design; they are his true passions when he isn’t designing.
Elie Saab prefers noble materials such as taffeta, organza, sable and satin paired with more fluid and light fabrics, such as muslin – for aerial effect – or fine materials like lace. Delicate embroideries made of sequins, semiprecious stones and Swarovski crystals highlight a sublime feminine silhouette.
His perfectionism drives him to constantly search for the most beautiful fabrics, the finest material, often seeking them out in France and Italy.
Thedesigned by Elie Saab contributed to the continued widening of his reputation. So much so that young ladies from all over the world would travel as far as Paris or Beirut in order to entrust the couturier with the designing of their dresses. Elie Saab has always nursed a true passion for bridal gowns, marveling at the idea that he is able to make the dreams of young girls into a reality.
Hence why in July 2003, when the Groupe Pronovias (specialized in ready-to-wear) suggested to him to create his own line, he accepted without hesitation, glad to be able to offer to a less fortunate clientele exceptional wedding dress designs. This license, established under the name of Elie by Elie Saab, allowed for his wedding dresses to be made available all over the world. A fruitful collaboration that marked the beginning of a beautiful story.
In September 2010, Elie Saab launched his own collection of ready-to-wear wedding dresses with 11 new styles, sold exclusively in Paris and Beirut.
Red Carpet for Elie Saab
Since 1999, Elie Saab has dressed Hollywood cinema, music, theatre and television A-list stars. Every appearance of a celebrity wearing the couturier’s dress has been highly acclaimed by the press. The most famous being that by actress Halle Berry, who won the best actress award in March 2002, for her role in “Monster Ball”. Her wine-coloured dress, with its delicate embroidery, was on the front page of magazines the world over, and marked a turning point in Elie Saab’s career.
Whether on the Cannes Film Festival steps or Hollywood red carpets, international stars and actresses regularly turn to Elie Saab’s dresses. Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Marion Cotillard, Hilary Swank, Penelope Cruz, Charlize Théron, Emmanuelle Béart, Sophie Marceau, Beyonce, Maggie Cheung, Nelly Furtado, Diane Kruger, Dita Von Teese… A forever growing list of names.
Won over from the first day, the actresses revealed the brand’s spirit: a couture house wishing to support the actresses from their early beginnings and continue to be there for them. Celebrities are a natural match for this fashion designer, yet the couture house never imposes its designs on them. The celebrity always has the last word.
The Right Values
Elie Saab is very tied to his family. He is father to three boys and spends his free time in his delightful residence in Faqra, in the Lebanese mountains, with Claudine, his wife (they married in July 1990), his children and his dogs.
He has a passion for contemporary architecture and design (Le Corbusier, Christian Liaigre…) and enjoys designing furniture for his own pleasure. His original creations are refined and feature modern lines, as displayed in each and every one of his residences. An architectural style that contrasts fundamentally with his elaborately embellished dresses.
Elie Saab grew up during the Lebanese war that tore up his country for 17 years. Today, in this country that is still under reconstruction, and that is so dear to his heart, he chose to inaugurate his first couture house, before further expanding his business in the French capital, a wish that he wanted rapidly to make come true.
In September 2003, Elie Saab received the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Cèdre presented to him by the President of the Lebanese Republic, as a tribute to his work and contribution as an artist.
In December 2003, he was elected Manager of the Year of the Alumni Association of the Superior Commercial Studies (HEC) for his management and his contribution in placing Lebanon in the international hot seat.
In June 2004, during the week “La France Expose” celebrating French-Lebanese relationships, the French ambassador in Lebanon organized a reception in honor of the designer. During the dinner, a retrospective of the most beautiful collections and designs by Elie Saab was presented.
Elie Saab is a philanthropist who participated to many charity events: Paris tout P’tits, les Sapins des Créateurs, la Grande Braderie de la Mode, les Frimousses des Créateurs, Sidaction, Red Cross fund-raisers, the Bal de la Rose in Monte-Carlo, but also the Mosaic Foundation in Washington, the fight against breast cancer in London, the fight against children’s cancer in Beirut…
In March 2003, Elie Saab accepted to make over the interior of the BMW X series, a project developed at the initiative of BMW Dubai and destined to be marketed in the Middle East.
This same year, Elie Saab went into partnership with MAC Cosmetics for two seasons by creating an eye shadow palette inspired by the colors of his couture collections. Another palette was specially elaborated in order to be presented to the actresses nominated for the 2004 Oscars.
In 2004, Elie Saab entered the world of TV commercials, when he lent his name to the Johnnie Walker whisky trademark: “the journey of Elie Saab” with “Keep Walking” slogan, a reference to the collections’ podiums.
In 2006, the designer sponsored “Mission Fashion”, a Reality TV programme broadcasted internationally by LBCI, the first satellite TV channel based in Lebanon, aimed at electing the models’ apprentices and the designer of the year in the Middle East and the Maghreb. He participated to this programme as a support to the younger generations, allowing them to follow through with their ambitions.
In October 2009, Elie Saab signed with Beauté Prestige International, the core fragrance subsidiary of the Shiseido group, a 10 year fragrance and cosmetics license contract in the name of Elie Saab.
In January 2010, Elie Saab signed with Weyves International to design three mega yachts. The first one, ES117 built by OCEANCO, was exclusively revealed at the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show in February.