Samia Saab’s closet is unlike any other. Inside it she holds a collection of textiles, garments and accessories from past centuries, which tell the fashion history of our country.
A graceful elderly lady with a bright smile, Samia recounts our fashion history from the 16th Century to today’s famed Elie Saab and Rabih Kayrouz. The Emir Fakhr-al-Din introduced costume to Lebanese society. Sober and elegant, the outfits were distinguished by a cotton or hessian string according to the class the wearer belonged to. The clothes were made of silk, cotton or wool. The Emir and princesses had the most elaborate clothing, mimicked by notables and cavaliers. Peasants adorned the black Sherwal and covered their heads with the Labbade, a hat made with goat wool from the mountains. Women wore long dresses or skirts, and embroidered headdresses, which held the Mendil (veil), while noble ladies carried Tantours, a sophisticated headdress made up of a tall conic silver tube around which floated a silk veil.
When she was five, Samia Saab went up to the attic of her tree storey house. In an old wooden trunk brought back by her father from Mexico, she found her grandmother’s petticoats. Her passion for fashion blossomed, as she started organizing masquerade balls for her friends and neighbors, and crafting costumes for her guests. Her inspiration came from the arts, nature and her travels from which she brought back treasured dolls, costumes and fabrics. She then opened a boutique and confectioned with her couturiers Kaftans, Abayas, and Kubrans, a straight gilet cut, paired with a Sherwal generally covered by a skirt. A browse through her creations, introduces us to Sarma, gold thread embroidery, brocades, and embellished silk from Zouk’s artisanal district. The luxurious fabrics and traditional techniques that Sitt. Samia uses in her creations are an invitation to travel through time.