It’s an occasion when designers are challenged with concocting sustainable yet chic creations, and one Middle Eastern label certainly rose to the occasion. Rising Lebanese couturier Jean-Louis Sabaji drew heads at 2018’s Green Carpet Fashion Awards, held in Milan on Sunday, dressing model and influencer Doina Ciobanu.
The Moldovan star, who was named among Forbes‘ 30 under 30 names to watch last year, wore a hand-woven straw and raffia mini-dress by the Beirut-based label, which she teamed with strappy stilettos and a tousled, undone braid. With its lace texture, palm-straw bodice, and sculptural silhouette, Sabaji‘s creation ticked all the boxes, blending a statement aesthetic with a sustainable background.
“The palm straw was sourced from Amsheet, a coastal town in Lebanon which has been known as a hub for tradesmen dating back centuries,” a spokesperson for the atelier told Vogue.me. “It is still a small craft-based community, in part sustained by weaving this wicker into diverse objects. The materials were sourced from this community, then woven in the brand’s atelier.”
The dress took around three weeks to craft, the couturier added, and was inspired by a design from the archives of his late father, who was also a designer. Sabaji’s collaboration with Ciobanu – “a very intelligent activist and influencer who embodies the aesthetics of the brand” – was the only regional label believed to have represented the Middle East at the prestigious event. Other well-heeled guests at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards included former Vogue Arabia cover star Halima Aden, Jessica Kahawaty, Julianne Moore, and Emily Ratajkowski.
Here, Sabaji – who has dressed everyone from Beyoncé to Black Panther star Danai Gurira – shares an exclusive look at the making of his Eco Age design with Vogue.me.