Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Luxarazzi 101: Elie Saab

In a bit of a new category of our Luxarazzi 101 series, we will delve a bit deeper into the fashion territory by introducing some of the favourite designers of the Luxembourg and (to a lesser extent) Liechtenstein families. When talking about Grand Ducal fashion, the first person coming to mind of course is Elie Saab, one of the family's (and my personal) favourite designers. Some might allege that Saab is a one trick pony but even if he was - which I dispute - he does that one trick so much better than anyone else.
While Elie Saab's most famous Luxembourgish creations probably were two dreams in (off-) white, the weddings gowns of Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie and Princess Claire, the Grand Ducal ladies' - well, Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa's - love affair with the Lebanese designer started long before that.
Even though he had already made quite a name for himself in the Middle East and dressed Queen Rania of Jordan for her husband's enthronement in 1999, Elie Saab's international star broke when he dressed Halle Berry for the Academy Awards in 2002, the year the American actress took home the Oscar. About two years later - at least to the best of my knowledge - Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa also discovered the designer sporting his creations for the wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson (left) as well as for a pre-wedding dinner of the Prince of Astrurias and Letizia Ortiz (right). (Fun fact: The latter dress has also been worn by Catherine Zeta-Jones.)
While there didn't seem to be an awful lot of Saab gowns in the following years - again, to the best of my knowledge - the Grand Duchess rediscovered the designer sometime in the late 2000's and her love for his gowns simply took off from there. And who can blame her? Saab, who is an autodidact whose interest in fashion design started at the age of 9, simply knows how to dress a woman to the best of her advantage. (Fun fact #2: The second dress on the left has also been worn by Katy Perry.)
Born on July 4, 1964, in Beirut into a Maronite Catholic family, Elie Saab launched his own fashion label in 1982 at the age of 18. At the time, his focus and skills were specialised in designing bridal couture - stitching wedding gowns and dresses using high-quality quality lace, fabrics, crystals, pearls, silk threads and intricate embroidery. In 1997, he became the first non-Italian designer who was invited to join the Italian Camera Nazionale della Moda as a member. In the same year, he displayed his first clothing collection outside of Lebanon in Rome. A year later, he showed his prêt-a-porter line in Milan. In 2003, the same happened in Paris after being invited to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
After first almost entirely sticking to his evening designs, Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa has also been sporting Saab clothes for day appearances. However in my opinion, some of the designs above just go to show that not everything Saab does is brilliant. While he can't do wrong with the sparkly numbers, I can't help but think that those boob flaps (which the Grand Duchess wore to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) won't flatter anyone ever.
Mostly famously wearing a stunning Elie Saab wedding gown in October 2012, Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie has worn (at least) another three of the Lebanese fashion designer's creations for the pre-wedding gala dinner of her own wedding, the dinner of the Dutch inauguration and the pre-wedding dinner of Princess Madeleine of Sweden. While Saab’s ready-to-wear collections - including at least the middle and right dress of Princess Stéphanie - are made and manufactured internationally, the brand’s haute couture is made completely by Lebanese and Syrian artisans in Saab's Beirut workshop. Like real works of art, these dresses can take hundreds of hours of work by the craftsmen applying by hand every lace panel, pearl, gem and sequin individually.
Unfortunately the only time that Princess Alexandra apparently sported an Elie Saab creation was one of those times the cour grand-ducale decided not to publish any pictures of the national day gala whatsoever. Thankfully there are heaps of visuals of Princess Margaretha wearing a stunning red Saab gown for the pre-wedding ball of the Hereditary Grand Ducal couple.


  1. I think the pale blue suit with the "boob flaps" is very unflattering, but I am in love with the gray gown Stephanie wore to the pre-wedding dinner of Princess Madeleine. And of course, those delicious wedding dresses!

  2. Here lies Luxarazzi:
    Just another royal fashion blog.

  3. I think none of us has ever made a secret out of our like for fashion in general or our love of Elie Saab in particular. This isn't the first fashion-related post this blog has seen and it certainly won't be the last. Personally, I have always liked the idea of being able to talk about all the things I am interested in (Luxembourg and Liechtenstein-wise) on this blog. My interests are diverse and so are the topics of this blog. I know that a post about a historical member of the princely family or Nassau history will only get a small fraction of the hits a post about jewellery or castles (just two examples) gets but generating hit numbers has never been a priority. None of us makes a penny with this blog, it is a pure hobby. As such, we reserve ourselves the right to chose the topics we are interested in so this blog is fun for us.

  4. The gown HGDss Stéphanie wore for Pss Madeleine's pre-wedding dinner is also one of my favourites, along with Princess Margaretha's as well as pretty much every blue gown GDss Maria-Teresa is wearing :D

  5. And, of course, the wedding dresses!!

    Generally I think that Saab's style is much more suited to evening wear than day outfits.

  6. Sometimes I think people forget that, when you read someone's blog, you are reading THEIR blog. They have the right to decide what to talk about, what to say about it, and to voice their opinions. They give us the opportunity to join in the discussion through comments, but really it's not up to us to criticize the content. If we don't like it, we can scroll past it, or we can quit reading the blog. I enjoy the fashion and jewelry posts as much as the historical or current events ones. Never having been royalty, and at the age of 72, not likely to get there in this lifetime, I enjoy reading about royal lifestyles, and that certainly includes fashion.

  7. It's because of your blog that I've fallen in love with Elie Saab. Love love love his dresses.