Lebanese designers presented their spring couture collections in Rome last week, showcasing experimentations with fabric and highlighted necklines with embellished collars and cap sleeves. Tony Ward, Abed Mahfouz  and Mireille Dagher participated in the Alta Roma spring-summer couture fashion week, just as the main week of haute couture shows wrapped up in Paris.
Overall, the designers stuck to basic feminine silhouettes, with high waistlines and maxi-length skirts. Evidence of their craftsmanship lay in the details, such as Ward’s magenta evening gown with its hand-beaded bodice or Mahfouz’s tight gold dress made from alternating vertical strips of lace, fishnet and sequins.
Ward showed a highly eclectic lineup without any obvious theme, with each individual piece instead exhibiting expert beading or embroidery, cutouts and the full gamut of colors.
He warmed up a black, floor-length gown for summer by adding delicate floral embroidery in yellow, red and lilac that popped off the dark fabric, and was the only one of the three designers to show an array of jackets, which he paired with short cocktail dresses.
Ward also made use of transparent nude nylon material to create interesting cutout placements. In one royal-blue gown, Ward cut out the front of the sleeves and the collar, giving the dress a tension as the shoulders appeared magically held in place.
Ward used the same technique on the elbow-length sleeves of a wedding dress, with white sprays of beading sewn around the arm. At first glance the sleeves looked more like separate pearl arm bands than a part of the dress.
In contrast to Ward, a clear theme dictated Mahfouz’s line, as the designer played with a fishnet material in pale banana yellow, sea-foam green, poppy red, and black.
The collection circled around two themes: a heroine of a modern fairy tale Mahfouz invented – the “peplum mermaid” – and gemstones, the designer wrote in a news release.
The fishnet fabric and flared skirts successfully conveyed his mermaid theme, while precious stones and silk flowers were incorporated into elaborate cap sleeves and decorated collars that trailed down the models’ sides.
“The designer has enriched the gowns with precious stones and gems that give an aristocratic and sophisticated flair to women,” said a statement explaining Mahfouz’s work.
The summer collection, it added, “is considered futuristic, elegant and fascinating. Flower applications [in] all kinds of sizes and shapes are accentuated by an aristocratic shining due to gems and crystals.”
Dagher’s collection was also sprinkled with cap sleeves, many of them completely covered in gemstones and studded decoration. The epaulettes, or embellished shoulders, “lift the shoulder and accentuate the beauty of the upper body,” according to Dagher’s news release for the collection.
She chose an overall theme of soft femininity through pastel colors and loose, sweeping skirts.
Dagher has built a number of belts into her gowns, a classic slimming trick – though it was certainly lost on the models.
Dagher used appliqué for her spin on cutouts, sewing pieces of fabric into spiraling designs on a lace base.
In its entirety, the collection was very much in step with her Lebanese market by sprinkling metallic fabrics among the light colors and featuring plunging, heart-shaped necklines decorated in dangling metal chains, studs and silk flowers.