At the age of nine, most children would be content playing video games or riding their bike, but Lebanese designer Elie Saab was already cutting patterns out of newspaper and using his sisters to model outfits he created out of their mother’s closet.
Later, when he turned 18, he opened his atelier in Lebanon, at first only making bridal couture, primarily for women in his neighbourhood. The elaborate wedding dress designs caught the eye of Middle Eastern fashionistas and of royalty, but it was not until 2002 that his dresses drew even more international attention, with Halle Berry wearing one of his gowns to accept her Oscar for “Monster’s Ball.”
Since then Elie Saab gowns have been continuously seen on celebrities, crowning him an overnight success…that was twenty years in the making. Inspired by the women in his life, the primarily self-taught designer has said that he is driven by a desire to dress women in elegant outfits.
The Elie Saab hallmark look is ultra-feminine, and his creations have the uncanny ability to display movement, even in runway shots, due to their flowing skirts. Silhouettes remain slinky yet defined with the use of high waists paired with skinny belts and silk sashes to top off the graceful, fluid skirts. Striking looks in recent collections have emphasized fairytale-like design with romantic materials and botanical inspiration from Dutch painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema.
Although the haute couture line is what was all over the red carpet at the 86th Academy Awards (and at the 85th and the 84th and…) Saab is known amongst brides for his diffusion line for Pronovias, Elie by Elie Saab. Elements of the couture collections blossom in the stunning array of wedding gowns.
These wedding dresses are tailor made for the modern princess bride, while skipping the cliché princess look. Very few Elie Saab gowns are strapless, instead opting for cap sleeves or arm-lengthening lace on sheer illusion mesh. The design is simple, always sophisticated, with a touch of sensualism. Looking for an over the top ballgown? Probably best to look elsewhere, most Elie Saab gowns feature flattering A-line shapes instead.
Beaded bodices full of sublime embellishment composed of precision placed pearls and glittering crystals only serve to enhance the soft, delicate skirts. Cascading sprays of lush floral appliques and meticulous blooming hydrangeas composed of organza petals “fall” down the skirts, onto the tulle trains.
The bride who is most drawn to Elie Saab wedding gowns is one who isn’t afraid of a lil’ bit o’ bling, without sacrificing quality. A woman who wants to be remembered for all the right reasons. After all, the timeless glamour of an Elie Saab wedding dress is not easily forgotten.