Childhood & Early Life
Elie Saab was born July 4, 1964 in Damour, a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, into a family of Maronite Catholics. He is the oldest of five children and their father was a wood merchant.
In 1976, his home city of Damour was destroyed by the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization). As a result, his family moved closer to Beirut so they could be closer to his father's family.
He began showing a love of design at the age of nine and taught himself to sew. He would create patterns out of newspaper and use his sisters as his models. He would look through his mother's closet for any clothes he could use in his designs that he would showcase on his sisters.
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He moved to Paris in 1981 so that he could study design but ended up returning to Beirut. He didn't want to wait any longer to begin designing clothes.
He launched his first atelier in 1982 when he was only 18 years old. He had 15 employees. Initially, Elie Saab made bridal gowns using beautiful fabrics, silk thread, pearls, lace, and detailed embroidery.
His reputation spread so that he went from simply dressing the women in his neighborhood to dressing high society women. In 1997, he became a member of Italian ‘Camera Nazionale della Moda’. He was the first non-Italian to become a member.
He showed his first collection outside of Lebanon in Rome in 1997. He created a ready-to-wear line the next year in Milan, Italy.
In 1998, he had a fashion show in Monaco. Princess Stephanie of Monaco attended the show.
Queen Rania of Jordan wore one of his designs when she ascended the Jordanian throne in 1999.
One of his dresses, which was thickly decorated with diamonds and emeralds, is said to have sold for $2.4 million.
In 2002, Halle Berry wore one of his designs, a burgundy dress, to the ‘Oscars’ where she won for best actress. He was the first Lebanese designer to dress an actress or actor for the ‘Oscars’. This made Elie Saab a huge success and he was swarmed with interviews and appeared on television. Halle Berry wore another of his designs, a gold dress, to the Oscars again the next year.
In 2003, he became a member correspondent of ‘Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture’ which is the industry which governs French fashion. This is the highest honor that a non-French member can receive. He had his first haute couture line in Paris in the same year.
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The Spring/Summer 2006 collection which he showcased in Paris marked his debut ready-to-wear fashion show. The ‘City of Light’ has since then become his permanent ready-to-wear runway.
In 2011, Elie Saab launched his first fragrance called ‘Le Perfum’. His perfume became a bestseller in fifteen countries.
In 2012, he teamed up with London College of Fashion to launch a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design at the Lebanese American University; the university has campuses in Beirut and Byblos.
In 2016, he appeared as a judge on 'Project Runway: Middle East', which is the Arabian version of the successful American reality TV show 'Project Runway'. As per the show format, the contestants compete with each other to create the best clothes within restricted time, material and theme.
Between 2015 and 2017, he opened boutiques in Paris, London and Manhattan.
He has dressed numerous celebrities and members of royalty including: Princess Beatrice of York, Princess Margaretha of Liechtenstein, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Emma Watson, Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Princess Claire of Luxembourg, Christina Aguilera, and Katy Perry.