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Meet Lebanese Coutourier Jean-Louis Sabaji Outfitting Celebrities

Lebanese couturier Jean-Louis Sabaji has styled some of the biggest celebrities with eye-catching creations frequently appearing on the red carpet.

His late father Jean, who was also a designer, instilled in Sabaji a passion for fashion. “As a kid, I used to make miniature dresses for Barbie dolls. My dad encouraged me to keep doing this, unlike others who bullied me for dressing dolls.”

Following completion of his undergraduate studies in graphic design at the Lebanese American University, Sabaji pursued his master's degree in fashion design at the Domus Academy Milano. He then returned to Lebanon in 2012 and began working on his first collection.

He grew up raised around fashion, so starting his own business wasn't too challenging. However, getting people to pay attention was a different story. He began by launching himself into the realm of haute couture. In 2021 he ventured out into ready-to-wear, after becoming highly known both locally and internationally, creating his first collection.

When it comes to audacious designs, Sabaji loves to push the envelope. In 2013 he designed a dress that appeared to be shrouded in smoke. The foundation of his designs is intricate hand embroidery and complicated garment fabrication.

Another of Sabaji's signatures is feathers, regarded to be feminine, and can be seen in almost all of his designs, whether they are used sparingly on the sleeves or liberally covering the entire dress. He maintains that they are all natural falls and are ethically sourced.

His modern take on traditional couture combined with glitz and edginess eventually caught the attention of world-renowned stylists. His first significant celebrity endorsement came in 2018 when Mary J. Blige opted for a striking black-and-white Sabaji gown to wear to the SAG Awards. Only a few months later, Beyoncé rocked his "Sphinx Abaya". The following year at Cannes, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's iridescent foiled leather dress made headlines everywhere. Not forgetting Cardi B's floor-length purple gown with shoulders bursting with feathers that she wore to the 2021 American Music Awards.

The designer had a spectacular year in 2022. He not only commemorated the tenth anniversary of the founding of his brand and entered into a significant collaboration, but he also became the first Middle Eastern designer to work with Mattel on a unique Barbie collection, which he unveiled at Arab Fashion Week in Dubai last month. For the young boy who was teased for dressing up dolls, this was a full-circle moment. 

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