On paper, Hussein Bazaza’s Fall 2016 offering might sound labyrinthine: textile collages, toiles de jouy, apples, bumblebees, lace gowns, bomber jackets, smiling suns, and unicorns. In reality? The Lebanese designer’s first collection since winning the inaugural Style.com/Arabia – DDFC Fashion Prize was a ringing success.
Bazaza narrated a story of alchemists seeking immortality and exploring the essence of life, and so he (literally) strapped in his models and sent them into the stratosphere. Incidentally, the real alchemist here is Bazaza, a chemistry enthusiast who has been experimenting with textile combinations for years now. And while his work always pointed to a vast potential, at times it lacked a certain finesse. For Fall 2016, however, Bazaza got it right, and this collection just might be remembered as an inflection point in his career.
Bazaza opened his show with a black midi-length accordion-pleat skirt paired with a fitted bomber jacket, and a seatbelt strapped across the bust like a regal sash. This opening came across as somewhat pared back in comparison to Bazaza’s earlier signature looks, and this lighter hand felt wonderfully fresh. From there, the collection took off. Bazaza explored color and textural combinations via organically-shaped fabric strips. Then he introduced intricate toiles de jouy, which displayed depth—and not just via the patterns, but also through the varied blue hues. Meanwhile, the metallics lent a glamour that was rich and not crass, thanks to the tastefully warm palette.
The next chapter insinuated that Bazaza’s muse was ready for battle, but the black A-line dress featuring lace-up detailing was soon followed by softer versions in blush pink and lemon yellow. Finally, she stretched for immortality—cue the unicorn and sun god look—but not before a misstep: the all-over lace pant-skirt look had no place in this collection (though it would look lovely in a boutique window). Bazaza could also consider losing the safety straps—after all, he’s broken into a new league now and his creativity needs to be no-holds-barred from here onwards.