Born: Damour, Lebanon, 1964
Elie Saab’s interest in fashion started at a young age, when he started making clothes for his sisters. Self-taught, Saab’s talents grew and the talented adolescent started selling his designs to women in his neighbourhood.
In 1982, the eighteen year old Saab opened his couture atelier in Beirut, employing over a dozen workers. In the following months, Saab debuted his first collection, which was instantly successful. His reputation grew, attracting high society women out of Beirut’s borders.
Saab moved to Paris in 1981 to formally study fashion, however her returned to Beirut the following year to open a workshop. By 1986 everyone notable were after his creations, and by 1990, Saab opened a bigger atelier to start taking orders from Paris and Switzerland.
In 1997 Saab became a member of the Italian Camera Nazionale della Moda, making him the first non-Italian designer to become a member. The same year he showed his collection for the first time out of Lebanon, in Rome.
In 2000, Saab was invited to show in Paris by the Chambre Syndicale De Le Haute Couture. Saab started presenting four collections a year for haute couture and ready to wear. Six years later, he became a corresponding member.
Saab dressed Halle Berry in 2002. Becoming the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar winner, he became an overnight success. Berry followed on to wear another Saab creation for the 2002 Academy Awards and again for the 2003 Oscars.
In 2005, a five story building was built where his workshops where located in Beirut.
With boutiques worldwide including Beirut, Paris and London, Saab has dressed socialites, celebrities and royals. Clothes that magnify femininity, Elie Saab’s garments exude fairy tale glamour with a sense of sophistication. The use of hand embroidery, luxurious fabrics and exquisite detail are synonymous to an Elie Saab garment.
Elie Saab was honoured by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture as a correspondent in 2006. He presented his first ready-to-wear collection in Paris for the Spring-Summer 2006 season.
Throughout his career, Saab has dressed numerous high-profile individuals and celebrities. For instance, he served as the designer for the outfits worn by Beyoncé during her 2007 “The Beyoncé Experience” tour, along with collaborating with Tina Knowles and House of Deréon. He also dressed many other celebrities, including Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Rose Leslie, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Aishwarya Rai, Anna Kendrick, Christina Aguilera, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Celine Dion, and many more.
Saab’s brand has experienced significant expansion, with boutiques located in various cities such as Beirut, Dubai, Doha, Paris, London, Geneva, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York City, and Mexico. His son, Elie Saab Jr., joined the brand as the brand director in 2013.
Elie Saab has ventured into collaborations and other projects. He appeared as a judge on “Project Runway: Middle East” in 2016 and expanded his retail presence by opening new boutiques in Paris, London’s Mayfair, and Manhattan. In collaboration with the real estate development company Emaar, Saab introduced luxurious Elie Saab-branded residences in Dubai.
The designer’s main office and headquarters in Beirut suffered significant damage due to the explosion that occurred in August 2020. Despite the devastating incident, Saab and his team were determined to resume work and complete their collection for the September show.
In April 2021, Elie Saab launched an initiative to donate a portion of sales to UNICEF’s “Integrated Education and Well-Being for Vulnerable Girls in Lebanon Program.”
Saab’s creations have been worn by various royal figures, including Queen Rania of Jordan, Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece, and Stéphanie, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg. Notable fashion moments include Queen Rania wearing Saab for her enthronement in 1999 and Countess Stéphanie’s wedding to the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, where she wore a dress designed by Saab.
Despite his success, Saab has faced controversies. In 2018, his label faced criticism on social media after a post on the brand’s Instagram account featured Israeli actress Gal Gadot wearing one of his dresses, leading to backlash and subsequent deletion of the post.
Elie Saab Biograhpy