A row of tall and proud cavaliers on stuffed horses are at attention backstage at Nicolas Jebran. It’s an odd scene for a fashion show, but we are, after all, inside the stately Hôtel des Invalides. The mausoleum, retirement home for war veterans, and army museum is the last resting place of Napoleon and was initiated by King XIV of France. This is where Nicolas Jebran, Lebanese designer to some of the world’s biggest stars—Cardi B, Beyoncé, Najwa Karam, Katy Perry, and JLo—has decided to host his debut show in Paris. “This collection is a culmination of all my life’s work,” Jebran offered before the show. It’s also the beginning of a new chapter. One that puts the brand front and center of Arab designers showing during couture; whether the brand is part of the official showcase or not. For nearly 20 years, Jebran showed in Beirut and now he is ready to showcase his work at the heart of the fashion scene offering a new platform to view his craft.
For this debut Paris show, Jebran featured a moody collection rife with textures—his forte after all is blending fabrics to create sensual shapes. Leather and velvet were twisted and slashed to make for dominatrix-style dresses equipped with over-the-knee boots and capes that reminded of a cocoon, enveloping its woman in luxurious armor. Several themes were explored but the overarching sentiment was that the clothes—delicate by way of a lace ensemble in a blush rose, confident by way of cinched-waist dresses and high slits, and regal by way of embroidered capes and a color hue where purple dominated—was that these are clothes for women of character. Not lithe, nubile flowers, the Jebran woman is affirmed, sure of herself, revered, and powerful.
To close the show, Jebran enlisted the help of Lebanese influencer Nour Arida. While Arida boasts a social following of some 1.7 million followers across various social media channels, her casting came across as gimmicky and unnecessary for someone who dresses the biggest artists in the world.