Purity. Maison Rabih Kayrouz AW22

There’s always something spiritual, even sacred about Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s collections – it’s all about those poetic volumes, architectural lines and richness of textures. Coming off a collection that was informed by the romance of reemergence, Rabih Kayrouz was interested in sharp cuts and “cleaned up” silhouettes for this season. “When I draw,” he said, “I usually draw in different layers, but what’s essential are the lines. I like this purity.” Kayrouz achieved his sharp lines in a number of ways – materials played a key role, followed closely by manner of construction. He worked with both vinyl and a thick jersey for his new tailoring. Adding seams at the front and back of the body of jackets and on the sleeves gave them a graphic, architectural shape. They’ll cut a striking figure without dating as quickly as many of the eccentric suits we’ve seen on recent runways. A pair of long strapless dresses that look destined for the Oscars red carpet had sculptural proportions too. The basque-like curves at their hips are the result of pattern-making, Kayrouz said, not padding. Even grander were a pair of gowns whose volumes were achieved by stitching individual rings of different lengths of cord between two layers of tulle. Other dresses reproduced those couture-like shapes, but rendered as they were in a techy water repellent taffeta, with ripcord detailing or the elasticized hems of athletic wear, they leaned more towards a relaxed aesthetic – not sharp, per se, but easy-wearing in a way that met Kayrouz’s “cleaned up” criteria. A third evening look in a deep shade of chocolate combined the sleekness of a jersey column with ballooning taffeta sleeves.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Timeless Design. Maison Rabih Kayrouz AW21

Rabih Kayrouz delivered a beautiful, beautiful collection for autumn-winter 2021. It’s a fine edit of timeless designs, that are both elegant and comfortable. “I’ve always wanted to make my work like uniforms,” he explained to Vogue. “I look at my work less as a fashion object than a design object. What’s good about design is that it lasts over time despite trends. It’s not just a spur-of-the-moment fashion impulse.” A graceful yet statuesque jacket structured shoulders comes in versatile, universally flattering iterations like black velvet  or tennis stripes. Likewise, the designer’s best-selling straight coat – which typically is worn open – is now engineered so that the wearer can button in a panel for more protection from the elements. In the same spirit, Kayrouz revisited his idea archive for “gesture” pieces, spanning a gold lamé bustier dress that coaxes glamour out of a single square of fabric, a poncho-like trench anchored simply by its cuffs, and a skirt that evokes a sarong with a couture touch. Fluid numbers include dresses in an ink-blot print that resembles the season’s omnipresent leopard print without going literal; lavaliere blouses with tails trailing behind; and haute takes on the shirtdress. The collection reflects Maison Rabih Kayrouz’s stance that it’s the wearer who “makes” the clothes.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.