Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 1 April 2020

A quick history of Arab labels on the Hollywood red carpet

With glamorous creations by Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab gracing the Golden Globes 2020, we take a look back at the recent but resplendent presence of Arab designers on international red carpets

Rose Leslie wears a creation by Elie Saab. EPA
Rose Leslie wears a creation by Elie Saab. EPA

The 77th Golden Globe Awards got off to a sparkling start on Sunday, January 5, with the who’s who of Hollywood on top of their style game. All the international bigwigs of the design world were represented and, as is increasingly commonplace, so were Middle Eastern designers, in particular those from Lebanon. Elie Saab dressed Game of Thrones actress Rose Leslie in an emerald-green number; Peaky Blinders star Annabelle Wallis stunned in a voluminous ballgown by Zuhair Murad; and The Vampire Diaries star Kat Graham wore a siren red Georges Hobeika.

There’s seldom a red-carpet event any more that doesn’t see celebrities wearing creations by Middle Eastern designers – a recent but rapid phenomena. It was Saab who burst on to the international fashion scene when he designed the show-stopping sheer dress Halle Berry wore to the 2002 Academy Awards. Berry made history that night, becoming the first African-American woman to win the Best Actress Award, and images of her in the Lebanese designer’s creation were splashed across the world. “Halle Berry made the name Elie Saab more popular … she managed to really put the name on the international market,” he has since admitted.

Since his breakout moment, Saab has dressed hundreds of A-list celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift and Beyonce. Sandra Bullock wears his label repeatedly, and Leslie, who is clearly a fan, also chose an Elie Saab dress when she married fellow actor Kit Harington in 2018.

Of course, Saab isn’t the only Middle Eastern designer in the limelight come award season. Murad, who launched his label in 1999, is another firm celebrity favourite. Jennifer Lopez was one of the first Hollywood stars to “discover” Murad, when she stumbled upon his work by chance, then wore a gown by him to the 2010 Met Gala. The all-gold outfit reportedly took 1,000 hours to create – but was well worth the effort when Lopez dazzled on the red carpet. “After that, I started using him for everything,” she has said. Lena Headey and Chrissy Teigen are other celebrities spotted in Murad’s creations, while Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra opted for a gown by the designer for her Oscar debut in 2016.

Here's a look at the dresses designed by Arab designers at the 2020 Golden Globes:

Meanwhile, Lebanese-American Rami Kadi has dressed the likes of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rachel McAdams, while Reem Acra has been worn by Taylor Swift and Isla Fisher. Ashi Studio, a couture label started by Mohammed Ashi in Beirut in 2007, quickly rose to fame after an outfit was seen on Cardi B at the 2018 Grammy Awards. Beyonce cemented the brand’s position when she sported a pink number at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela at 100. In 2012, Lebanese designer Hobeika gained worldwide fame when Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe in one of his creations.

Closer to home, Dubai’s Rami Al Ali has become a household name across the world: Helen Mirren choosing to wear his label at the 2018 Oscars only helped. Last year, Riverdale’s Lili Reinhart sported a red tulle number by Emirati brand Khyeli Couture at the Golden Globes and Teigen was spotted in a strapless dress by Maison Yeya, from Dubai, at the 24th annual Critics Choice Awards. Here’s hoping the representation of Arab brands at the Golden Globes 2020 is a sign of the spotlight continuing to shine on Middle Eastern designers in the year to come.

Updated: January 9, 2020 05:22 PM

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