Zuhair Murad on the personal side
by Sabine Alphonse Chalhoub
March 24, 2006
The art of fashion may be as creative as writing a book. Just as a great writer can create a heartbreaking tale from an ordinary act in an ordinary day, a great designer can condense a lifetime of hopes and dreams into the neckline of a dress. To tell a story may seem like a lot to demand from a few pieces of fabric, but it’s no secret that when Zuhair Murad puts a collection together, his style (and story) is instantly recognizable. One of its biggest drawing points is the elegant femininity he portrays, and the Spring-Summer 2006 collection is no different. This time, Murad gives life to a Victorian heroine discovering the audacity of the present.
This collection is slightly dramatic and theatrical whilst immensely flattering to the female form. Sensual, flamboyant women light up the catwalk in gorgeous fabrics and a palette of vibrant colors, which are constantly being renewed. Glamour explodes in a parade of long or short dresses in embroidered muslin, infinitely light organza, meticulously worked silk, exceptional furs, Swarovski crystals and pearls.
For Murad, designing is an art; a form of self-expression and a realization of an instant of inspiration. “But inspiration by the first degree is from the woman herself,” he explained. Traveling, movies and books are also good sources of imagination. Sometimes, simply walking down the street gives him ideas, even the material itself can inspire him. “I also get in close contact with people,” he said, continuing, “I often go to parties or nightclubs and I look at what women wear and what their tastes are like.”
Apart from his haute couture and prêt-a-porter collections, Murad also has a keen eye for menswear. The Men’s Spring-Summer 2006 collection had a classic touch. “I worked to make the outfits comfortable. This collection suits men with a strong personality,” he said. Murad has an endless list of ideas and plans to accomplish. As he put it, “fashion is a very wide world. From perfumes to home furnishings and accessories, I still have a lot of dreams to fulfill.”
Success has already showered Murad. But the scented lure of Paris proved too irresistible, the starry lights too numerous. A few years after his debut, he opened an espace as the French would say, in the heart of Paris. “After years of fashion shows there, it was time for a showroom, atelier and office,” Murad said. “Rue Francois 1 is filled with the best designers and I wanted to be among these big names.”
The first floor comprises an atelier and workshop while the second floor boasts a prêt-a-porter boutique as well as an office for the clients who would like to get something especially designed. To keep up with clients in Lebanon and in France, Murad is obliged to travel several times a month. “I go there in order to do some research and become more up-to-date with the people we work with,” he said. But Murad has also hired a very dedicated, experienced staff in France to take care of his clients.
The feedback so far has been great. “There may have been some people who would have liked to wear my designs but, being based in Lebanon, I was too far; this boutique has made me more accessible. We’ve met many new clients, some French, Americans, English, even Russians,” he said.
When it comes to women’s tastes in clothes, Murad believes that taste itself is not confined solely to nationality or culture, but rather, depends on the woman’s character and what she likes, whether it’s simplicity or more elaborate designs. One thing is certain however, with Murad, every woman becomes a princess.
The other side of Zuhair Murad…
In a recent interview with Murad, I had the chance to delve into the personal side of things. True, his designs are absolutely gorgeous, but everyone can see that and we all know Zuhair the designer… read on and discover who Zuhair the man really is.
How would you describe a perfect woman?
A perfect woman in my opinion is one that can be a woman, yet remain strong and sensitive at the same time.
What kind of woman do you like to dress?
I’m very moody, so I don’t have a specific kind of woman I like to dress. I always imagine women differently and I think that’s my secret to success. I adapt quickly, and my way of thinking evolves. I definitely like the very feminine woman, a mysterious woman that I don’t understand from first glance. Every time I see her, I find that there’s more to discover.
If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you have liked to pursue as a career?
I would probably be doing something else related to art or anything creative. I would probably be a photographer or a producer. Just like fashion design, these kinds of careers help you draw pictures that are in your mind. I also love horoscopes and astrology.
What’s your sign?
I’m a cancer.
What are your hobbies?
I love to listen to music. I can’t live without it because it stimulates my imagination. I also love watching historic and science fiction movies because they make me feel like I’ve been transported to another world… and I can honestly say that I’d feel lost without a book or magazine.
What are some of your favorite things?
My favorite book is The Alchemist, the first Paolo Coelho book I read. Salvador Dali is my favorite painter and I love the Beatles and Bee Gees. As for my favorite movie, it would have to be the classical Casablanca and Titanic.
What’s your favorite country?
Italy because it’s the country of art. When you walk in the streets, you feel like you’re a part of history. Shopping, café cafés… everything is beautiful.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
At the moment, I feel like I’ve reached the top of the ladder, only to find myself on the roof with another very long ladder ahead of me. It doesn’t have an end. So I’m now on the first step of that ladder. I’ll be wherever it takes me 10 years from now.
More of Murad’s favorites:
Shopping fix: Any bookstore or library, I guess I can buy 3 to 5 books a week!
Film costumes: Troy – one of the greatest wardrobes ever assembled for a costume drama
Outfit: Black shirt with a blazer and blue jeans. Sunglasses are a must!
Something you can’t live without: A freshly brewed cup of Turkish coffee in the morning
Item always on hand: A scratch book and pen
Scents: Amber, rose, incense
Junk food: A cheese burger with French fries and 7Up
Cocktail: A chilled glass of Martini
Restaurants: Gordon Ramsay in London, Pierre Gagnaire in Paris and China Moon in Lebanon
Defect: Very moody
Jennifer Lopez in Zuhair Murad
Sara Sampaio in Zuhair Murad