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Sun 15 Oct 2017 12:02 PM

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'I don't want to see more Elie Saabs,' designer says

Lebanese fashion designer who took Hollywood by storm says lack of originality is a 'big problem' among young, Arab designers

'I don't want to see more Elie Saabs,' designer says

Internationally recognised fashion designer Elie Saab has expressed concern for young designers who lack their own style and choose to mirror some of his techniques instead.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Saab, who paved the way for Arab designers when he became the first Lebanese to dress a Hollywood star at the Oscars, said the absence of originality is “a big problem.”

"I don't want [to see more Elie Saabs]. If a designer wants to work in fashion and reach the same level of recognition [as myself], then it’s okay. But if he wants to be a fashion designer, he has to have his own style and his own vision,” he said.

"To be like Elie Saab or someone else and say you’re a fashion designer, this is a no-no for me. This is not a fashion designer. I believe that if you don't have your own style and your own vision for fashion, you are not a fashion designer."

Saab is known for his support of young Arab designers, having mentored a number of designers who came to be successful. In 2011, he joined forces with the Lebanese American University (LAU) in Beirut to offer graduates a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design degree in collaboration with the London College of Fashion.

"I feel a responsibility towards young guys and girls to give them education and to put them on the right path. It makes me happy and I do it from the heart. I believe in our region’s young people and I believe they have a lot of talent. I believe my region has something to say about fashion and I believe our young people can deliver. They can be on the international level,” he said.

The designer said the Lebanon-based programme, of which Saab is honorary chairman, has done particularly very well in Beirut, because “the city and the young people need it,” he said.

Saab also said the foundation is looking to launch more projects across the Arab way.

"It's almost like the first, official degree in fashion in the region. I'm so happy to have done this collaboration with LAU. It’s enough for me that these students remain home in Lebanon [as opposed to] studying abroad. This makes me very happy," he said.

While the region’s fashion industry took off to a good start, it has not yet reached the level of maturity present in some of the world’s fashion capitals.

“We need a lot of schools, a lot of inspiration for young people. We need more in order to compete with the fashion schools in Paris, London, Milan or the States. I believe we have started, but we have a lot to do,” he said.

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