10 years, thousands of followers, and countless noteworthy creations: Having completed a decade in the industry, designer Jean-Louis Sabaji is running stronger than ever. And for his latest drop, the Lebanese favorite has come up with yet another series of stunning ensembles that blur the lines between fashion and art.
This time around, Sabaji’s creative eye takes him on a journey under the sea, where soothing blues and pearly white clash with fiery reds and corals, and sculpted waves crash into golden seashells and shimmering mirror work. The inspiration behind the Fall 2022 Couture collection came from a holiday the designer took recently. “I’ve always found inspiration in Mother Nature, and especially so after a trip with my friends to Zanzibar, Tanzania. I fell in love with the sea all over again,” he tells Vogue Arabia in an exclusive chat. “We rented out a house by the beach where I lived the full experience of waking up to the sounds of the ocean for 10 days. I discovered so much above shore and under waters. I found myself waiting for high tide to become low, and got with me all the shells I could find and actually gold plated them and placed them on a few pieces in the collection. I found myself sketching every day until this collection came to life.”
The result is a series of mesmerizing dresses and gowns that would look just as elegant on the red carpet as they would at a beach party on a balmy evening. In true Jean-Louis Sabaji fashion, the couture selection takes a simple concept, and transforms into something out of a fantasy. Below, we find out more about the designer’s creative process, his favorite fashion memories, and his plans for the future.
Can you share any special memories you share with the sea or the seaside?
I was born and raised in Lebanon, so the Mediterranean is part of my DNA. I spent my whole childhood between the mountains and the sea. I was very intrigued by the fish in the sea, and was constantly looking for colored fish like the ones we saw in movies, until my parents got me an aquarium at home with two of the most colorful fish you can find.
Nature seems to be a theme that’s close to your heart. Why is this so?
I spent most of my summers in the mountains and we had a very big garden filled with all types of trees and plants. My parents were also passionate about raising animals. We had a rooster, chickens, flamingoes and birds. It’s hard not to find inspiration when I was surrounded by all the beautiful things nature offers.
If you could pick one hero piece from this collection, which one would it be, and why?
The hero piece of this collection is the dress with the big exaggerated seashell made out of copper. It was a piece I had thought of doing for a while, and the process of seeing it come to life was very enlightening. Every step of the creation was an experience, starting from creating the mold, to the gold plating, and then deciding to cover it with crystals. I love how the corset fits the body perfectly, and that it turned out to be better than I imagined it.
Fashion can make people feel a myriad of emotions. What do you hope to achieve with your creations? How do you hope to make your wearers feel?
Albert Camus once said, “If the world were clear, art would not exist.” Fashion is the art that we cannot escape from. I want my creations to be appreciated even if the woman doesn’t see herself wearing it. But for those who do go through the exclusive journey in my atelier and try on my dresses, all I want is for them to be comfortable, yet stand out with confidence.
Who, according to you, is the ultimate Jean-Louis Sabaji woman? What are her strongest personality traits?
The Sabaji woman is someone who is bold, feminine and loves to be unique. She is confident enough to wear statement pieces and be the best version of herself.
Name three women you hope to see wearing your creations someday.
As cliché as this might sound, I would love for my designs to be in EVERY woman’s closet someday.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating this line?
The beauty of couture is that the sky is the limit. Especially after launching a toned-down RTW line, I was able to be as conceptual as I want with this collection. Although you can see the theme clearly throughout the pieces, my biggest challenge was keeping it as wearable as I could.
Lastly, what is next for you?
There is project coming up in October that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Stay tuned!