Rabih Kayrouz designs for the women he loves. Well, the feeling is mutual. We’re head over heels for Kayrouz’s designs—fluid, inherently light constructions cut from the very finest of fabrics.
Born and raised in Lebanon, Kayrouz moved to Paris at the age of sixteen to study fashion. After working for Chanel and Christian Dior Couture, he returned to his native country, where he began designing custom couture-influenced pieces for Beirut society. In 2009, he returned to Paris for a new chapter, fusing his couture experience with a modern approach in a ready-to-wear collection.
Kayrouz gave us a glimpse into the ideas and process behind this collection—along with a few exclusive behind-the-scenes images that shed light on the precision and passion intrinsic to his work.
Describe the woman that you design for.
She is a woman I love, a woman strong enough to show her weakness and her strength. She plays roles in a dramatic but fun way. Each season, I put her in a certain story, where she can be the heroine.
Who is this heroine in your Spring/Summer 2014 collection?
She is a conqueror with a strong yet poetic attitude. The name of the collection is “Ray,” as in a ray of light playing on the shadows. I like to play on contrast in my work, mixing light with dark or fluid fabric with structure.
Then I drape. It must be done spontaneously and it should even seem obvious. The difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is slight and subtle. The most successful dress is a dress that seems like it is meant to be.
How do you source your fabrics?
I touch them. I like fabrics that are soft yet structured. Sometimes, beautiful wool is nicer than bad cashmere. It is not about what it is—it’s about how it feels and even how it smells. You must make all of your senses work together.
What about your color palette?
I don’t like approximating things. It has to be strong and not trying to be something else. So, I always choose sharp colors.
How has your work evolved?
We don’t change our soul—we mature. In fashion, you improve yourself every six months. A collection is never an achievement. It’s a beginning of another story. When we finish a collection and say it is beautiful, it is always a step and a starting point for the next.
How does your Lebanese background influence your designs?
After studying and training in Paris, I came back to Lebanon. It had beautiful energy after the war. I started working on my house, mixing artistic work and couture. You learn a lot from getting very close to the client. But then, I wanted to explore another story with ready-to-wear, and the idea to go to Paris was obvious, since I had started there.
Professionally, I feel myself more Parisian than Lebanese. But my Lebanese background relates to the sensual approach to the body. There is a daring nature to my work, and this comes from my Mediterranean background.
And now all of your tailors are in all in France?
We are 100% manufactured in France. We try to go back to the roots of fashion and what we are providing to the people: a real product beautifully thought out and made by the best manufacturers.
Tell us about the philanthropic foundation you started to support Lebanese designers.
We provide young Lebanese designers with resources to help them develop their own collections. Any passionate person should be generous to share his or her ideas with everybody. I am not designing clothes to put them in my cupboard. I am designing to seduce the woman I love. I want to share my passion, and push others to go through this process that I love so much.
What you do for fun in Paris?
Boir, manger, aimer! I love to eat, to drink, to taste, to smell—this is the only way to enjoy cities and the only way to live. Not only in Paris. Everywhere.