10 Things You Didn’t Know About Elie Saab

Renowned globally for his sensational couture gowns, Lebanon-born designer Elie Saab is a cherished figure in the fashion industry. Sought out by celebrities and socialites alike for his intricately designed garments, he has succeeded in planting the Middle Eastern fashion scene onto the global map. Yet, beyond his immaculate designs, there is much more to the designer than meets the eye. Let’s delve into 10 fascinating facts about the “King of Couture”, Elie Saab.

1. Humble Beginnings

Elie Saab was not born into a family with a background in fashion or design. Instead, Saab is a self-made individual who grew up in a modest home in Beirut, Lebanon. He developed an interest in dressmaking at an early age, honing his skills by crafting clothing for his sisters with available materials.

This passion steered him towards the fashion industry, as he left his studies at the age of 18 to open his first couture atelier in Beirut, with a team of 15 employees. Today, Saab’s brand is a multinational luxury fashion business with flagship stores in many fashion capitals around the world, showing that humble beginnings can lead to massive success.

2. His International Breakthrough

Elie Saab’s big break on the international scene came when Halle Berry wore his design to the 2002’s Academy Awards. The burgundy gown emphasized her figure gracefully and was an instant hit. Saab was the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar winner — a great victory for the Middle Eastern fashion world.

This exposure catapulted Saab’s name into global recognition, and soon after, his designs were being sought after by Hollywood stars and global celebrities. His dresses have continued to grace red carpets worldwide, signifying beauty, elegance, and sophistication.

3. First Non-Italian Designer to Become a Member of The Italian Camera Nazionale Della Moda

In 2011, Elie Saab became the first non-Italian designer to be accepted into The National Chamber of Italian Fashion – the organization responsible for governing the fashion industry in Italy. This was a significant recognition for Saab, helping to further solidify his status as a prominent figure in the global fashion industry.

As one of the very few non-Italian members, his inclusion in this prestigious organization testifies to the quality and exclusivity of his designs and his significant contribution to the fashion world.

4. The Elie Saab Fragrance

In addition to designing breathtaking gowns, Elie Saab has also ventured into the world of fragrances. In 2011, he launched his first perfume, “Le Parfum”, which became an instant success, topping bestseller lists in 15 countries.

His perfumes, like his designs, embody femininity, luxury, and elegance. The iconic glass flacon design, inspired by the interaction of light with his dresses, continues to captivate individuals worldwide.

5. Honorary Doctorate from The Lebanese American University

Due to his outstanding contributions to fashion and his representation of Lebanon on the global stage, Elie Saab was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Lebanese American University in 2018. His captivating designs and recognition across the globe have made him an influential and inspirational figure to many aspiring designers.

Despite his international success, Saab remains rooted and proud of his Lebanese identity. He has always aimed to bring a touch of Lebanon into his designs, thereby promoting his country’s culture promoting it to the world.

6. Collaboration with Evian

Elie Saab’s artistic reach goes beyond fashion as he also ventured into product design. In 2014, he collaborated with the mineral water giants, Evian, to design a limited edition bottle. The bottle, designed with a lace-crafted pattern, reflected Saab’s infamous elegant dress designs.

This collaboration was another instance showcasing the widespread influence and appeal of Saab’s aesthetic sensibility in realms outside of fashion.

7. His Son, Elie Jr., is the brand’s Deputy CEO

Today, Elie Saab operates as a family business with a global reach. Elie Jr., Saab’s son, holds the position of deputy CEO and is deeply involved in the brand’s operations and decision-making. Elie Jr., alongside his father, ensures that the brand remains authentic to its roots while still innovating and growing in the competitive world of luxury fashion.

It’s clear that for the Saabs, preserving the brand’s integrity, quality and uniqueness is a family affair.

8. He Loves Architecture

Despite his love for fashion, Saab has remarked that if he had not pursued a career in fashion, he would have become an architect. He believes that his love for clean, defined lines in his designs often mirrors architectural frameworks.

This fondness for architecture became evident when he design his own 4,500 square meter house in Beirut, demonstrating just another sphere where Saab’s aesthetic taste comes to life.

9. He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Elie Saab is not just renowned for his artistic contributions, but also for his humanitarian efforts. He became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF in 2019, focusing on advocating for children’s rights in Lebanon, especially in the areas of education and protection.

Adding his influential voice to UNICEF’s mission shows that his success goes beyond the runway, as he uses his platform to give back and make a difference.

10. The Elie Saab Building in Beirut

In 2008, the Elie Saab Building was inaugurated in Beirut Central District, serving as the brand’s HQ. The impressive architectural structure showcases Saab’s design ethos of elegance, harmony, and detail, extending his aesthetic appeal from fashion to constructions.

The building houses design studios, workshops, offices and a flagship store. It stands today as a symbol of the designer’s success and his commitment to his homeland, Lebanon.

In the fast-paced world of fashion, Elie Saab has managed to carve a distinguished place for himself. His journey, from a self-trained tailor in Beirut to becoming a globally recognized couturier, serves as an inspiration to many young designers worldwide.

Click here to explore Elie Saab’s collection.
Click here to read more about his UNICEF ambassadorship.