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Rabih Kayrouz’s 230-Hour Dress is a Testament to the Craftsmanship of Couture

Courtesy of Maison Rabih Kayrouz

Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz debuted his master creation yesterday via a short film titled “320/28” at this year’s Paris Couture Week. Named after his Beirut address and Paris atelier respectively, the five-minute film, directed by Nasri Sayegh, takes viewers on a creative journey, from the conception of Kayrouz’s idea in Beirut to the tangible manifestation of it in Paris. Using 80 meters of burnt orange grosgrain ribbon, 320 meters of cord and 230 hours of manpower, the Lebanese visionary’s singular piece is a testament to the craftsmanship of couture. Intricately constructed with fluid latticework and entirely void of fabric, the gown is showcased not by a model, but by Lebanese dancer Yousra Mohsen instead.

Void of embellishment and decoration, characteristics usually affiliated with the art of couture, Kayrouz’s creation is focused primarily on craftsmanship. With ribbons having played an important role in his work for the last three seasons, a combination of skill and conviction elevated his haute couture dress to a level of intricacy never before witnessed. Molding perfectly to the upper torso, the dress’ bodice highlights the power of simple geometric lines, while the skirt; with it’s long and rippling folds, references the intricate use of craft and artistry. While appearing somewhat rigid to the naked eye, the dress in fact explores important nuances of fluidity and movement through the lens of precision and geometry. As is showcased by dancer Mohsen, who twirls her way through the short film, the skirt’s fluted undulations expand freely and elaborately.

Speaking to WWD, Kayrouz referenced his decision to forego a conventional couture collection this year. Noting that couture, unlike ready-to-wear, is a process and not a lifestyle, the designer’s choice was rooted in the socio-economic crisis currently underway in Lebanon. Stating that it would have been “disrespectful to launch into new creations and collections — over-creating and overproducing,” Kayrouz added that a collection would have been unfathomable, “with what’s happening in the world,” and with what is happening in his country.

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