Elie Saab has become known for his elegant, luxury designs. He is one of the few true couturiers left in the world, and his unique visions of dreamlike gowns make him a long favourite among all women who adore absolute femininity. Saab was born in Beirut on July 4, 1964 with the gift of artistic talent. His interest in dressmaking began at the age of 9, and he spent much time as a young boy sketching for his sisters and making clothes out of tablecloths and curtains from home. Saab began pursuing his dream at only 18 years old, when he opened his first atelier in 1982. He immediately began his business designing exquisite evening gowns and intricately beautiful wedding dresses. He first showcased his talent at a Casino in Beirut, gaining great media coverage and raved reviews from an astonished press.
Saab’s couture house thrived in the 1980’s, attracting many princesses dying to wear his designs which were the epitome of glamour and sophistication. It was his distinct romanticism which gave his designs their appeal; they were cut close to the curves of a woman’s body and used exquisite details like beading and hand-embroidery. He combined these intricate details with beautifully feminine fabrics like silks, chiffon, mousseline and tulle. He just knew how to dress women beautifully, and could make anyone feel like a princess in his designs.
It was in the 90’s when Saab’s reputation spread internationally, allowing him to expand his business in Beirut and show his collections in Europe. In 1997, Saab was the first non-Italian to be invited to the Camera Nozina della moda, a very prestigious fashion event, which helped mark his place in the world of couture. He then began to show his collections in Rome during Fashion Week. In 1998 Saab launched his first Ready-to-Wear collection in Milan, to rave reviews. The collection was a huge success, selling in major fashion cities around the world.
Two years later Saab opened a showroom in Paris, then showcased his collection in the city, causing wide recognition among Paris’ fashion elite. It was in 2002 that Saab gained celebrity status clientele, when Halle Berry took home an Oscar for best actress while wearing one of Saab’s gowns. Shortly after, Saab’s A-List clients expanded to the likes of Christina Aguilera, Teri Hatcher, Beyonce, Catherine Zeta-Jones and many more. His dresses are now regulars on the red carpet. He is also the long couturier of Queen Rania of Jordan.
His breakthrough moment came when Saab showed his 2003 Couture line in Paris, as an officially invited member of prestigious Chambre Syndicale. Two years later he launched his expanded RTW line in Paris, which has now become his second home for fashion. In 2005, Saab opened his first boutique in his home of Beirut, where his five-floor modern building houses his Atelier, Couture, Accessory and Ready-to-Wear collections. Saab’s business continues to expand; he has just recently opened his first UK boutique at Harrod’s, where you can find his coveted gowns. Saab plans to expand even more in the future, hoping to open stores in major cities all over the world.
Below I have dislpayed a preview from all of his collections that I could find, starting from 2003 up to 2008. Since Saab’s design aesthetic was more fitted to the world of Couture, he did not begin his RTW collections until 2006; so any collections before 2006 are only couture ones. Some collections had a lot more that I wanted to show, so there may be more of one season than another. I hope you enjoy his gorgeous collections as much as I do.
2003 Spring/Summer Couture
His first photogrpahed collection showcased Elie Saab’s strongest abilities – heavily adorned or printed gowns in flowing, heavenly fabrics. Saab knows how to accentuate a women’s body in his silhouettes, adding sexy details like deep necklines, high slits, cut-outs and sheer fabrics. His colour palette uses earthly tones such as browns, blacks, greens, yellows and blues.
2003 Fall/Winter Couture
For his next collection, Saab breaks out with embellishments and a pop of colour. He stays with his original design aesthetic, using feminine silhouettes and sexy detail. This colour palette is bold: bright blues, greens and purples, with steely neutral accents of greys and black.
*2004 S/S Couture unavailable.
2004 Fall/Winter Couture
Hello ice princess! Saab’s dreamy creations continue in 2004, while he offers updated gowns and adds some refined elegance to his line. His short dresses almost rival his gowns as he shows women he can dress more than the red-carpet. A colour palatte based on whites and greys, with a rich contrast of greens, yellows and purples.
2005 Spring/Summer Couture
The gowns: If possible, Saab’s gowns get even girlier this season. He held nothing back in the way of detail, but shows the world he has the skills to drape like dream. The colour palette: COLOUR! An abundance of summer brights including orange, yellow, blue and pink.
The short dresses: Saab uses all the beautiful embellishments of his gowns, mixed with the flirty appeal of showing some leg. They’re bright, they’re pretty and they’re free. Colours such as orange, yellow and white are perfect for the season.
2005 Fall/Winter Couture
Dark tones present a mysterious, more mature colour palette in this collection, but the feminine details are still there. Saab takes a more refined appraoch to this collection, letting the manipulation of the fabrics tell the story. The palette features deep hues of green, red and blue, with an accent of black.
2006 Spring/Summer Couture
The gowns: Saab’s gown in 2006 truly went back to his roots. The gowns were all fit for a princess, with all the bows, lace, frills and fullness every girl could want. This collection is really something out of a fairy tale, with a colour palette of pastel blues and purples, while neutral accents add sophisticated versions of fantasy gowns.
The short dresses: It’s hard to believe these dresses were part of the same collection as his gowns. For what lacks in length, Saab made up for in exquisite details that do all the talking; or should we say flirting! The colours: refined and elegant jewel tones such as gold and peridot come to life with sparkling embellishment, lace and bows.
2006 Fall/Winter Couture
Proving that his skills don’t rely on adornment, Saab pulls it back just a notch and produces a feminine line that’s sleek and full of sophistication. Here he shows the fashion industry that his talent includes knowing not only how to dress a princess, but how to cater to the more refined buyer. The colour palette sets the tone with blacks, white gold and deep wine reds.
2006 Spring/Summer Ready-to-Wear
The Colours: Spring seems to make Saab flourish and break out the sunny brights. His first ready-to-wear collection debuts with an array of fun and flirty dresses with little to no decoration. Here he lets the construction do the talking, framing a women’s body in light, easy fabrics. The colours are the brightest of summer; greens, reds and pinks make you feel cute and confident.
Neutrals: The building blocks of every wardrobe are redefined in sexy cuts and flowing fabrics. The short-to-long dresses have the glam for big nights out, with all the ease of a mini. The details are minimal, letting the construction shine through. Faithful black and an almost white gold hue make versatility bold.
White: This not-so-boring basic neutral is very dominant in this collection. Pearl and ivory whites are completely vamped up in girly summer dresses and cripsly pressed suits are staples for women of sopshitication. The white canvas sets the stage for bright accessories such as shoes and handbags, and their versatility makes them must-haves.
2006 Fall/Winter Ready-to-Wear
Saab follows suit as the fashion industry takes a turn from the most girly of colours and adornments, to the much coveted minimalist look. Black and white make a strong statement, especially when used in the most ladylike fashion. Lace, frills, fur and fullness make this wardrobe anything but stark. Here we witness Saab as one of the first to introduce stockings into full trend.
2007 Spring/Summer Couture
Back to the glitz and glamour of the orignal Saab aesthetic, his 2007 couture collection reminds us of what he does best. Embellishment, bows, frills and lace make another dramatic entrance into fashion. The colour palette is light and dreamy, silvers, light golds, pale blues and pinks.
2007 Fall/Winter Couture
Saab’s construction and design are both prominent apsects of this collection. The colour palette is consists of simple, muted hues of nudes, greys and washed out colours such as purple. The details and embellishment is still there, but in a more refined and sophisticated way. The pleats, the gathering and the unique draping all scream classic elegance.
2007 Spring/Summer Ready-to-Wear
It’s not very often that you see a designer produce a collection like Saab’s 2007 s/s Ready-to-Wear line. The colour palette: Gold, gold and more gold; there was not a single other hue present in this collection. Normally a very daunting task, Saab excelled greatly with his gold collection. Where a collection would normally use repetition in their design, using alternate colours, Saab had to make every piece different in some way, while still making it cohesive. The collection was beautiful, one of his best to date.
2007 Fall/Winter Ready-to-Wear
His next collection seemed to take a very dramatic turn from his usual ultra-girly gowns and dresses, offering instead an sexy, edgy look. The hemlines were shorter, the clothes tighter and the colours deep and dramatic. The colour palette consisted of black, purple and teal; leather and black tights were everywhere, and the cuts were either sexily slinky or super-tight. This fall runway showed everyone that Elie Saab has got some attitude.
2008 Spring/Summer Couture
Probably my most favourite collection of Saab’s, the 2008 s/s couture show was nothing short of stunning. Couture is truly where he shines and his clothes are at his best; he just knows how to make a woman look beautiful and glamorous. Everything about this collection epitomized the true meaning of a lady; from the hourglass silhouette and the feminine details and embellishments, to the beautiful colour palette of warm yellows, golds, silvers and blues.
2008 Fall/Winter Couture
Saab sends a strong statement with his fall couture show this year, with bold silhouettes and intricate details and construction. Continuing his trend of full silhouettes contrasted with streamlined cuts, Saab increases the intensity in every way. The full skirts and unique construction of his fabrics are chic dramatic. The intricate detailing of the lace, flowers and pleating create dreamy versions of simple gowns. The colour palette is strong and saturated; deep reds and purples with accents of muddy gold and silvers.
2008 Spring/Summer Ready-to-Wear
This spring ready-to-wear collection was full of fun and flirty dresses for any woman. Florals, bows, frills and glitter make the most of late night beach dates, in airy farbics and tastefully revealing cuts. The colour palette speaks of all the summer pleasures; grass and fruits, water and rainbows – in reds, purples, greens and blues, with accents of white and black. The hemlines are short but classy and the arms are exposed.
2008 Fall/Winter Ready-to-Wear
This was a much more mature collection for Saab, full of clean lines and simple details. There was very little glitz and lace consisting mostly of precise draping and sharp construction. The silhouette was demure and cut close to the body; the hemlines were longer, while the entire collection showed much less skin. The colour palette was mostly achromatic, with muted tones of blue and red; the fabrics soft and supple, elegant but with ease of movement.
Celebrities in Elie Saab
Elie Saab is no stranger to the red-carpet, as he has been dressing celebrities and royalty throughout his entire career. His girly, embellished gowns have become favourites for red carpet events, and it’s very likely for a celeb to end up on the best dressed list while donning one of his designs. Probably his biggest celebrity fan, Beyonce has worn many of his gowns and helped to popularize him among some of the most stylish women in hollywood. Below you can see some of the celebrities who have graced the red carpet with all the glamour that comes with a Saab gown.
One of Beyonce’s most recent appearances had her shining in this gold Saab dress with a plunging halter neckline, high slit and flowing train. The dress made the most of Beyonce’s gorgeous curves, and the shimmery gold hue worked wonders for her skin tone.
Left: Beyonce wears one of Saabs full gown in mustard yellow for an on-stage performance. Right: The beautiful singer looks chic in this nude/gold strapless dress with mermaid skirt. The dress is gorgeous, with a retro glam aspect; the silhouette really hugs her curves and makes her shine.
Left: Beyonce really loves to stay withing the gold/brown family; it works so well with her skin and hair tones. This light gold dress is very typical of Saab and Beyonce, glamorous and chic, almost always embellished. The detail and draping on this dress really helps her stand out, and it works great on her body; none of the excess ruins her perfect curves. Right: Here she goes for a short nude dress, with all the details she loves in his gowns. It’s not her best Saab pick, but it’s very cute.
Left: Beyonce looked stunning in this beautiful blue empire dress. The fitted style is great for her body, and all the frills and lace make it an eye-catcher. I love the bowtie waistline and girly details, but the colour especially shines against her skin tone. Right: Another blue masterpiece by Saab, this strapless gown with silver bodice is not Beyonce’s best colour, but it’s still very beautiful on her. The shape is what really does wonders for her, as it emphasizes her gorgeous curves in all the right ways.
Ashanti was spotted wearing this sexy dress from S aab’s 2007 S/S ready-to-wear collection. The shape is very nice on Ashanti, and the light gold hue pops against her dark skin beautifully.
Christina Applegate recently wore this beautiful, sparkly gown on the red carpet for the SAG awards. I love the classic style of the dress, mixed with a unique hemline. The dress is gorgeous and works well on her frame but I feel the light colour washes out her pale skin just a little bit.
Dita von Teese chose this very ladylike, sexy gold dress with lace detailing. I love everything about this dress, the length and silhouette are very chic; a perfect shape for an hourglass figure.
Evangeline Lilly looked stunning in this fitted gold, strapless dress at the 2008 Emmy’s. The train in gorgeous, and the details glamorous; the shimmery gold is a show-stopper. I don’t feel it’s the best hue for her skin tone, but she was absolutely glowing.
Halle Berry looked very chic in this simple yet gorgeous gold number. The high bodice gives Halle a very long, lean figure and a small waist. I really love the pleating on the skirt, and the gold is a very nice hue for her skin tone.
Halle Berry is seen here in a short gold dress that is sexy, yet classy. The details on the top are beautiful, and I love how it’s balanced with a simple skirt. I find the length a little short for a woman of her age, but we all know celebs don’t follow the style rules all the time; regardless she looks gorgeous in this little gold dress.
Hilary Duff chose this gorgeously embellished gown to wear on the red carpet for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Annual Gala. The fitted dress was a perfect choice for Hilary’s slightly fuller figure, making her look glamorous but fresh; the embellishment is perfect for a woman of her age, and she really shines here.
Hilary Duff sported another cute little gold number by Saab. This dress really suits the style for a woman of her age on the red carpet; this dress is fun and cute. The babydoll is short and sexy, but the silhouette makes it a little demure as well.
Kate Beckinsale wore this retro-inspired full strapless dress. The style looks very good on her small frame, while the hue compliments her tanned skin beautifully. I love the detail on the bust, as well as on the waistband; it’s a very ladylike choice.
Kerry Washington wore one of my absolute favourite dresses by Saab. This style is just so classy and beautiful, and it looks amazing on her. Her small frame works very well with the pencil skirt style, and she can really pull off the full bodice and sleeves. The detail in the pattern is gorgeous, everything about this dress is so ladylike.
Marcia Cross looked gorgeous on the red carpet in this old hollywood glamour inspired strapless dress. The dress is beautiful; it does wonders for her body, creating a beautiful hourglass figure. The lace detail is amazing and I love the slimming effect of the thick ruched waistband. I feel that the hue washes out her pale skin tone, and I think she would have looked much better in the purple version.
Michelle Yeoh shined beautifully in this gorgeous pale yellow dress with detailed silver overlay. The bodice is very nice, but I don’t feel it does much for her shape, although the hue really compliments her tone. My favourite part is definately that beautiful train that extends out from the back. It’s a very good choice for the red-carpet.
Teri Hatcher donned this stunning white strapless gown with black and gold abstract detail. The dress fits her flawlessly and really shows off her tiny waistline. I love the print that was used and the ease of flow in the fabric, it’s very eye-catching. Another beautiful detail is the sweeping train, which really glams up the gown.
Vanessa Williams opted for a very simple, chic deep teal gown by Saab. The single black asymetrical strap at the top is a little weird, but she seems to pull it off with such a gorgeous collarbone. The dress fits her very nicely and I just adore the colour on against her skin tone. It’s a very sophisticated choice considering the usual picks from his collections.
I hope you enjoyed learning about my favourite designer. Check back soon for my second designer biography from my List of Top 100 Designers.