Rani Zakhem Couture Show at Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture 2018

July was a magical month for me – I got to visit my favourite city for the third time for something I never thought would happen in a million years, Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week!

It all started with an invitation from a production house that is in charge of organizing some of the shows during this highly anticipated week. I admit I was a bit sceptical of the invitation primarily because I never imagined I would attend fashion week in Paris, let alone be invited to one of the shows! Also, I’m ashamed to admit I had never heard of the designer but that’s nothing Google can’t fix.

And that is precisely what I did – I looked up the production house and the designer in question, Rani Zakhem and once I saw everything was legit, I let myself breathe again, jumped up and down with joy for a couple of minutes, called my fiancé to share the amazing news and booked our flights and accommodation with a big smile that I couldn’t wipe off my face. Finally, all that was left to do was fly to Paris of course, and patiently wait for days to roll by for the 5th of July!

Here’s a bit of background information I found online about Rani Zakhem. Hailing from Lebanon, Rani Zakhem is one of the country’s top couture designers and after seeing his work up close, I would even dare say he is on par with compatriots Zuhair Murad and Elie Saab, two of my favourites. 

His timeless creations have earned him a reputable presence across the Middle East, all the way to Hollywood. Born in Lebanon and raised in Kenya, Rani Zakhem has pursued a career in design from a very young age. He first obtained a degree in architecture in Lebanon and then moved on to graduate in fashion design at Parsons the New School for Design in New York. Today, the Rani Zakhem brand has three main lines - ready-to-wear, couture and bridal.

With that in mind and having had a look at some of his past works, including his first debut in Paris during the SS18 Haute Couture week, I knew I was in for a spectacular show of the finest in haute couture. I wasn’t let down just one bit – to be invited to experience Paris Haute Couture Week is a dream come true and it most certainly did feel like a dream. A dream with beautiful beaded gowns and exceptional tailoring being paraded in the most beautiful of settings - Pavillon Cambon. The collection is a vibrant tribute to the combating woman, the ‘Glamazonian’ who is fatally seductive when like a warrior goddess she puts on her crystal armour.

Rani Zakhem redesigns the camouflage motif used in battle in different grounds and transforms it into new opulent, embroidered, crystalline tonalities of emerald green, gold, black, red and silver as can be seen on sheath dresses, jacket cuffs and pencil skirts, along with other military insignias such as the glittering gold chevrons. Another dominant colour in this collection is white, which although considered fragile, Rani Zakhem re-invents it as luminous, bold, a symbol of renewal and resilience. Through this collection, Rani Zakhem also wants to convey a poetry of an imaginary jungle depicting a delicate guardian of a paradise that she will not let falter. Heavy embroidery on skirts shows images of flora and fauna blending in a palette of sky blue, pale pink, gold and copper, brought beautifully together by flights of black birds here and there. Dragonflies flutter over pastel hues of aquatic vegetation on another exquisite ball gown, as well as a bright, colourful sheath dress in tulle cascades from orange to pink – a reminder of poisonous flowers of the jungle or panoply of native warriors.

This collection includes subtle references from Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan and Azzedine Ala a, between a Saharienne detail, a draped moulage or simply the powerful minimalism of a white dress, all expertly given Rani Zakhem’s personal interpretation!

Hair was either slicked back or braided in a horseshoe shape at the nape of the neck – away from the face, ready for battle, while makeup was fairly dramatic on the eyes, much like war paint, complemented with bare lips and matte skin.

By the end of the show, I was speechless. It is a truly marvellous collection. A true celebration of the glamorous warrior in women, all set in the equally glamourous Pavillon Cambon Capucines right in the heart of Paris! Thank you Mephistopheles Productions for inviting me and again, bravo Rani Zakhem!

Production: Vigari, Mazzini Eventi
Consulting & casting: Paola Rebeiz
Music: Sebastien Perrin
Photos: Imax Tree
Hair: Sebastien Bascle
Makeup: L’Oreal, La Roche Posay
PR: Mephistopheles Productions

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