FASH­ION EM­PIRE KRIKOR JABOTIAN'S

Le­banese-ar­me­nian fash­ion de­signer Krikor Jabotian star ted his ate­lier at the age of 23. Six years on and he’s built a solid rep­u­ta­tion for his lux­u­ri­ous haute cou­ture de­signs that have just gone global. He sat down with LT to talk about in­spi­ra­tion, emb

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Le­banese fash­ion de­signer Krikor Jabotian hit the in­ter­na­tional head­lines in Septem­ber when Amer­i­can ac­tress Regina King was awarded an Emmy for Out­stand­ing Sup­port­ing Ac­tress in a Lim­ited Se­ries or Movie for her role in ABC’S Amer­i­can Crime. When she ac­cepted the award at the Los An­ge­les cer­e­mony, it was one of his dresses she was wear­ing – an el­e­gant white an­kle-length gown, em­bel­lished with pearls... at the af ter party she sported another of his de­signs. “We are thrilled to have our first Hol­ly­wood ap­pear­ance by an award win­ner. The first day I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand what was hap­pen­ing. The sec­ond day I un­der­stood how big this was,” Jabotian says, sit­ting in his Tabaris ate­lier. “It’s cre­ated a lot of ex­po­sure and buzz for us – a lot of peo­ple were re­quest­ing the dress af ter­wards.”

Though this was the first Krikor Jabotian design to ap­pear on the Red Car­pet in Hol­ly­wood, the in-de­mand de­signer is al­ready well es­tab­lished in Le­banon. Af ter grad­u­at­ing from the Beirut ESMOD school of fash­ion, he went on to work in renowned Le­banese de­signer Elie Saab’s cre­ative de­part­ment. “It was a su­per-en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially work­ing one-on-one with Elie Saab,” Jabotian says. “He taught me to love em­broi­dery; I used to have a re­pul­sion to­wards it, then I thought if it was done with taste, you could turn em­broi­dery into jew­els.” It’s since be­come one of the defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of his style. Af ter less than a year of work­ing with Saab, Jabotian launched his first col­lec­tion at Starch Foun­da­tion, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps launch the work of emerg­ing de­sign­ers. His evening col­lec­tion of long gowns came in mid­way be­tween cou­ture and ready-to-wear and was an in­stant hit with the pub­lic. “When I first started in Starch I never imag­ined that soon I would have my own ate­lier and launch my­self as an in­de­pen­dent de­signer. But, then I felt that peo­ple were re­lat­ing to my work and they started plac­ing or­ders for cus­tom-made gowns. It was quite a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity at a ver y young age,” Jabotian says. At 23, Jabotian launched his own Achrafieh ate­lier and af ter only a year the de­mand for his work was so high that he moved to a big­ger space in Tabaris. Six years on and the busi­ness has be­come a mini-em­pire. He has back-to-back ap­point­ments with clients in his spa­cious ate­lier; spread over three floors of an old build­ing where he works on cus­tom-made haute cou­ture gowns, of ten for wed­dings. He has trans­formed what was a small ate­lier into a big fam­ily busi­ness, em­ploy­ing his mother, fa­ther, sis­ter and close friends. It’s be­come his sec­ond home. “I spend much more time here with my team than in my apart­ment. I be­lieve that work­ing in a healthy en­vi­ron­ment with peo­ple you trust is ver y im­por­tant for be­ing pro­duc­tive,” Jabotian says.

IN­SPI­RA­TION

Jabotian cites Dior as an early in­flu­ence, but closer to home his grand­mother was a sig­nif­i­cant fig­ure. He used to watch black and white Egyp­tian movies with her, dur ing which she would tell him about the dif fer­ent cuts, neck­lines and flared skir ts she used to wear in the ‘50s. “She used to sew her own dresses when she was younger – I learned a lot from her.” Be­ing of Ar­me­nian ori­gin, the countr y’s cul­ture has al­ways had a strong pres­ence for him: “We went to Ar­me­nian schools and learned the his­tor y. It’s a beau­ti­ful way to preser ve our her­itage and cul­ture. I think it’s quite in­ter­est­ing to have these dif fer­ent worlds com­bin­ing in­di­rectly in my work.” Though Jabotian stays abreast of the lat­est trends, work­ing mainly in haute cou­ture, he sets his own rules. “When you do cou­ture it’s like you are sell­ing dreams and each de­signer’s own fetish, their fan­tasies, their world. I at­tract a spe­cific kind of clien­tele be­cause they can re­late to my world.”

IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUST

The first process of a com­mis­sion star ts with a meet­ing in Jabotian’s ate­lier, to es­tab­lish the client’s per­son­al­ity and tastes. “I might get in­spired by her per­son­al­ity, her job, or the way she dresses,” Jabotian says. Dur­ing the sec­ond ap­point­ment Jabotian shows the client a pro­posal – per­haps a sketch, fabr ic sug­ges­tions, em­broi­der y and sam­ples. “If it clicks, then we’ll be able to work to­gether. The client needs to trust me, be­cause when the client comes here I don’t have ready­made dresses for her to tr y on. It’s a mat­ter of trust and en­ergy.”

READY-TO-WEAR LINE

Jabotian was ap­proached by Vogue Italy to take par t in the Vogue Fash­ion Dubai Ex­per ience, which took place in Oc­to­ber. Eight de­sign­ers from around the world were se­lected to cre­ate a col­lec­tion and share it on a run­way in front of fash­ion gu­rus and in­dustr y ex­per ts. The ready-to-wear line for Spr ing/sum­mer 2016 was his first run­way fash­ion show. “It was a toned-down ver­sion of what I usu­ally do. I kept the same spir it and am­biance but made some­thing more prac­ti­cal… though it is still ver y dra­matic,” he laughs.

When I first started in Starch I never imag­ined that soon. I would launch my­self as an in­de­pen­dent de­signer

“The Last Spring” – Spring/sum­mer 2015 col­lec­tion.

Pho­tos: Krikor Jabotian

Krikor Jabotian Ate­lier 01 204793, 71 883737 kr ikor jabotian.com

Kr ikor Jabotian, Kr iko­r­jabo­tian Dak­douk Build­ing, 4th Floor, Tabar is, Se­lim Bus­tros Street, Beirut

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