Kim Kardashian in Stéphane Rolland Haute Couture, and Moussaieff Haute Joaiellerie. Styled by Mohieb Dahabieh. Courtesy of MoDa’s Touch, 2012.
MOHIEB Dahabieh has 19K Instagram followers and counting. Here Vogue Arabia’s Special Projects Director guides you through his #FashionHistory101 on the quintessential fashion moments that redefined culture, and still do so today. Scroll down for an education in brave, bold, and beautiful landmark photographs from Dahabieh’s style archives.
The Medusa Legacy
No other brand epitomizes celebrity quite like Versace. Gianni was uncanny at pinpointing opportunities and blasting them into iconic appearances that would transcend fashion and seep into culture as we know it. A figure-hugging, one-shoulder gown in electric blue for Princess Diana’s first post-divorce public engagement (a gala in Sydney on October 31st, 1996), sent the world’s media into a frenzy.
In a flash, Diana ditched her royal title for “Red Carpet Goddess” with a little help from her friend Gianni. Twenty years on, Donatella, equally brilliant at identifying such moments, clad Michelle Obama in rose-gold chain mail at the Obama’s last state dinner for yet another Medusa-scorched coup.
My Czech Mate
Signature looks are not easily crafted and sometimes accidental. The celebrities that excite me the most are those you could easily sketch a caricature of. Individuals with style so very distinct that their looks are an easily-marketed brand; think the Donatella peroxide hair and perma-tan. In the same vein, Ivana Trump’s hair is such a significant component of “brand Ivana.”
The signature up-do was conceived on the cusp of the nineties when Ivana was in the midst of divorce procedures from Donald Trump, and to which she answered with a triumphant makeover for US Vogue. The sellout cover saw Ivana soften her heavy makeup, bare her shoulders in strapless Givenchy Couture, and launch her famous glamazon French Twist, courtesy of the Louis Licari salon.
“I had already been wearing chignons and ponytails, but Vogue lifted it and dramatized it. I have kept the look ever since,” Ivana, a dear friend, once told me. Shortly afterwards, she coined the motto:
“Gorgeous hair is the best revenge”
And the look took its rightful place among the most iconic hairstyles of all time. I can’t help but imagine what a fabulous role Ivana would have played in the current US Presidential elections. She would have quite simply stolen the show.
For this shoot in 2013, I wanted to toy with the notions of paradoxical perception and usher Kim Kardashian to a bygone, mystical era. I also wanted to explore the veil as an ever-shifting and multi-layered emblem encompassing illusion, divinity, modesty, envelopment, and sacredness.
So beautiful, yet—as the Burqa debate continues to surface in Europe—so controversial. To some, it’s the rejection of women objectified, to others the reverse. When the argument ends (and taking eras into retrospect), I wonder which of the two will be considered the most loaded fashion piece: the corset or the veil.
Of all of fashion’s unions, this duo’s is the one I hold dearest. It is Herb Ritts’ Cindy that mesmerizes me most. “We first worked together for Macy’s in the late 1980s,” recounts Cindy in Becoming Cindy. “We were both newcomers, and the shoot was forgettable. But shortly after that, Herb started booking me for shoots in Los Angeles, and that’s when our working relationship started to heat up.”
Herb was responsible for Cindy’s “Venus Moment” (Vanity Fair, August 1994). He cast and directed her as the dream girl in Jon Bon Jovi’s Please Come Home for Christmas (1992). And it was at a barbecue at Herb’s house in 1987 that Cindy met Richard Gere; they’d eventually pose for him as Hollywood’s hottest couple for the cover of Vogue US, November 1992. Cindy herself says that if she did have to name her favorite of the masters she has worked with it would be, “Herb Ritts—not only because I love his photographs (and, luckily, he also happened to love photographing me), but also because of who he was as a person and the friendship that we developed from working together for fifteen years.” And what archives that friendship harvested!
Let’s Play with Fire and Skate on Thin Ice (Again)
Of all of Revlon’s unforgettable faces—from Dorian Leigh and Suzy Parker, to Halle Berry and Christy Turlington, and Jerry Hall and Iman—the ones that embodied their ads most (to me at least) were Dorian Leigh, Carmen Dell’Orefice, and Cindy Crawford. Dell’Orefice fronted campaigns in the ‘50s and “Queen of Diamonds” (in 1954) was photographed by Richard Avedon. Meanwhile, Crawford was signed by Revlon at 23-years-old and that contract lasted eleven years. Cosmetic campaigns were deemed gutsy and Revlon prided itself on allusions to wider cultural trends.
Upon launching the “Fire and Ice” lipstick in 1952, Revlon had Avedon photograph Dorian Leigh in a silver, figure-hugging gown and voluminous red cape (by Bové of Rose Schogel; cape said to be a copy of Balenciaga) with a hand that drew attention to a blood red manicure and lipstick. The ad was regarded sexually overt at the time and it’s daring slogan asked,
“Are you made of Fire and Ice?”
Revlon challenged outdated assumptions that any woman wearing red is a “hussy” and positioned her instead as a modern woman. The ad went on to receive Advertising Age‘s prestigious Magazine Advertisement of the Year award.
I yearn for cosmetic campaigns with such impact as Baron Adolph de Meyer for Elizabeth Arden (1926) or M.A.C’s Viva Glam with RuPaul (1994). If I was ever put in charge at Revlon, the first thing I’d do would be bridge generations by bringing back the two super Cs: Cindy and Carmen together in one campaign. Red never looked better than on these two.
Which #FashionHistory101 moment is your favorite? Let us know on Twitter @VogueArabia.