Jennifer Lopez, Hollywood stars and Arabian princesses wear his fairytale dresses. In this exclusive interview with JETSET Fashion Magazine, fashion designer Zuhair Murad talks about the perfect woman, his childhood in the Lebanon, Christian Dior and what moves him to tears.
I love the sexy dark look of your new collection fall/winter 2013/14. Are you celebrating the femme fatale?
Zuhair Murad: The collection is entitled Gothic Garden. I imagined a muse whoâ€™s half angel and half demon. As an angel, she transmits sensuality, transparency and romance. As a demon, she has a very strong personality, even an aggressive side and prefers a gothic look. I wanted to accentuate this contrast by combining different materials, for instance leather and lace, velvet and tulle, brocade and jersey. Black, bordeaux, red, pink and white are the dominating colours of the new collection. I also focused on big flower prints after being inspired by the paintings of Flemish painter Malers Jan van Eyck (1390-1441).
Red and black symbolize the enigmatic woman. Does she correspond to the image you have of the perfect woman?
Yes, I love sensual, enigmatic, self-confident and well-educated women who are very present but at the same time inaccessible.
When did you discover your passion for fashion?
According to my mother, I started drawing the whole day at the age of three. At the age of 10, I started drawing fashion. I got inspired by my mother and women who surrounded me. At the age of 14 or 15, I decided to become a fashion designer.
As a teenager, you were already well-versed in fashion. Which designers were your idols?
Christian Dior â€“ in the years 1947 to 1957. His new look, his drapes, his wasp waist and his elegant models inspired me. But I also admired Balenciaga, Balmain and Schiaparelli.
The Lebanon is a small country with only 4,2 million inhabitants. Nevertheless, it has a series of internationally successful fashion designers: you, Elie Saab, Georges Hobeika, Georges Chakra, Basil Soda, Rabih Kayrouz and others.
The Lebanon is a very open country. Lebanese women have always inspired fashion designers. They are elegant, they travel a lot and they dress according to Parisian and European fashion. Some very famous French fashion houses used to have couture ateliers in Beirut.
Hollywood actresses love to attend red carpet events wearing your evening gowns. Does it touch you?
Yes, Iâ€™m very proud and happy when people appreciate my work and style. Obviously, the best publicity for my label is when celebrities wear my dresses on the red carpet.
Does it sometimes move you to tears when you see the pictures?
Yes, sometimes. It touches me very much due to my origins. I didnâ€™t grow up in Europe or in the United States. I grew up in the Lebanon, a small country. I celebrated major successes in a short time. Iâ€™m very moved by this international esteem.
You created six looks for Jennifer Lopezâ€™ world tour 2012. Did she give you any precise instructions?
Working with Jennifer Lopez was very easy. We even became friends in the meantime. She trusted me blindly and gave me carte blanche. I know her style and I know what she wants. She has been wearing my dresses for years now. She loves my style and I love to see her wearing my looks.
Jennifer Lopez is a very sensual woman and therefore the perfect ambassadress for your style.
Yes, she’s as sensual, modern and feminine as Lebanese women.
You are a workaholic. You ever hardly go on holiday. Do you at least have the chance to visit places and museums when you travel? You are so passionate about culture.
Culture inspires me very much. When I travel, I try to visit museums and discover the culture and the traditions of the country. I’m also curious about how people dress in foreign countries. All this enriches my imagination and inspires me.
You have also been active in the real estate sector by designing the interior of 30 villas in Beirut in cooperation with Seven Invest. Would you also be tempted to design a Zuhair Murad hotel the way Giorgio Armani designed his hotels? And what city would you choose for your hotel?
A hotel would tempt me very much. The first one would have to be in Beirut, the second one in Paris. But afterwards I would conquer the whole world.