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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Interview: Fashion designer Ziad Ghanem introduces new S/S 2014 Couture Collection “HELL O”

Ziad Ghanem and his stylist Aiden Connor talk about the brand new S/S 2014 haute couture collection, inspired by Queen Victoria and powerful curvy women.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Ziad Ghanem S/S 2014 by Claire Kearns

Ziad Ghanem S/S 2014 by Claire Kearns.

We really missed culture couturier Ziad Ghanem on the catwalk last season so I am really pleased to exclusively introduce his new S/S 2014 Couture Collection entitled HELL O, dedicated to Queen Victoria and powerful curvy women. I spoke to Ziad and his stylist, Aiden Connor about the ethos behind the designs.

Ziad Ghanem by Leah Nelson

Ziad Ghanem by Leah Nelson.

You first started out in fashion with quite an urban aesthetic, but have since moved towards haute couture… how did this evolution come about and what is the best thing about working at such a high end?
I am trained in the techniques of couture but the ubran aesthetic is what represents me most, so there is always an element of urban within all my work in both ready to wear and my couture. The best thing about working at such high end is that you have a far more personal relationship with the client. Good communication is the key to a successful outfit.

Ziad Ghanem couture collection Lizzie Chiffon Print dress

Who buys and wears your exclusive couture looks, and how does the process of creation work once a buyer has requested a piece?
We have individual clients that have certain occasions to attend such as red carpet gala parties and other special events. After providing an individual design the client’s measurements are taken, the toile and the fabric samples are provided, the garment is fitted and then we start to produce the actual outfit. What works on paper may not always work in 3D form, so thats why we have fittings and alterations.

Ziad Ghanem by Adam Pryce

Ziad Ghanem by Adam Pryce.

What was the biggest culture shock when you moved from Lebanon to London in the 1990s, and how easy was it to adapt to life here?
Lebanon is a pretty open country to Western culture so I knew a lot about Britain before moving here. Moving to London is one of the best things I’ve done in my life, it gave me so much freedom, courage and inspiration. I felt at home here even from the first day I arrived and up to this day. I am so grateful to this country for everything it offers to creative people like me.

Ziad Ghanem couture collection S:S 2014 - cape

How have ideas and traditions from the place where you grew up infiltrated your designs?
Refinement and sophistication are things I’ve learnt from where I was brought up. I use lots of weaving techniques such as Nawl weaving and Artisan embroideries, which originate from that part of the Middle-East.

Ziad Ghanem couture collection S:S 2014 - pink dress

You have always shown your collections worn on a range of models who are fabulous for what they do as well as looking great. Why is it so important to you to steer clear of the traditional skinny teenage look that most designers show their clothing on?
Because it’s boring… Darling. Fashion should be about fun and not a prison. I strongly believe in individuality and I love the unexpected. My models are my muse. I love them.

Ziad Ghanem couture collection S:S 2014 - striped green dress

Why is the new couture collection titled “HELL O”?
It is titled ‘HELL O‘, because we wanted it to say ‘hello, look at me‘. We split the O from the word because I always get a lot of abuse for my use of my models (because of their sizes) and it feels like hell. I guess it’s nothing compared to their own hell that they must endure because of the industry and media discrimination. I was so, so upset when I read the body fascist comments of Mr Lagerfeld saying ‘nobody wants to see curves on the catwalk‘. I want to prove this statement is wrong, everyone can look good small, medium or large. Just embrace your individuality.

Ziad Ghanem By Lynne Datson

Ziad Ghanem by Lynne Datson.

What aspects of Queen Victoria inspired the latest collection?
Queen Victoria was a grand, majestic woman, and one of the longest running monarchs in history, so she is a symbol of powerful woman that always inspires me. She was no small lady but she never hid this and always showed this off in her full regalia.  

Ziad Ghanem by Hannah Boothman

Ziad Ghanem by Hannah Boothman.

In what way are you ethical in your designs?
I try to source my fabrics as ethically as possible so I use many vintage and reclaimed materials within my work, and I do not produce my pieces in a sweatshop – I treat the people I work with with respect. Ethicality must start with the way we treat the people around us, and the rest must follow.

Ziad Ghanem by Amy Davis

Ziad Ghanem by Amy Davis.

How did your mum get involved with the Paris is Burning collection, and has she contributed anything to the latest one?
My mum has always been the source of my inspiration as she loves glamour and dressing up. The 1980s was very much her area of fashion. She designed all of the accessories throughout the collection. She continually works with me; she is part of the team. 

Ziad Ghanem couture collection Zoe Black dress

Who took the photographs for the new S/S 2014 collection, and what was the art direction for these looks?
The inspiration for the shoot was Disney villains: I wanted it to be a caricature of haute couture and I was very lucky to meet the wonderful team I worked with, especially our models Zoe and Lizzie. Aiden Connor was the creative director for this photos, and it was shot by Andrew Hiles.

We sadly missed you on the catwalk last season (your shows are always a highlight of LFW) – when can we next expect to see you there, and any hints on what we might see? 
Thank you so much Amelia, I’m very thankful of your support since day one (thank you, blush). I will be doing a show during this coming February London Fashion Week. The new collection is looking very sensual but I am still working on the direction of the show. I’m in the middle of an idea that swings between “S & M” or “M & S“… lol

Ziad Ghanem by Avril Kelly

Ziad Ghanem by Avril Kelly.

Your garments really flatter the female physique in whatever form it comes in – what advice do you have for the ‘non-standard’ female when it comes to dressing beautifully?
Thank you for this compliment. My advice is firstly to invest in a good bra that fits well and is comfortable. Secondly, conceal the part you are not comfortable with and highlight your strongest assets. Don’t believe the myth that black is slimming or that a loose sack is flattering. Dress your size, brush your hair and accessorise.  

Ziad Ghanem couture collection Lizzie Black Corset

Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring young fashion designers who dream of entering the couture world?
My advice is, they need to study and learn how to make the classics with traditional techniques before they come out with the inventive pieces. As Alexander McQueen said ‘you need to know the rules before you can break them…’ A great knowledge of the human body is a must as well as an attention to the finer details. 

Thankyou Ziad, we can’t wait to see your new collection x

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