The MC Escher-ish staircase that forms the backdrop for new images in Rabih Kayrouz’s lookbook speaks volumes about his current state of mind. Coming out of a collection inspired by the romance of re-emergence – more hoped-for than actualized – this season, Kayrouz has focused on clean cuts and ‘cleaned up’ silhouettes. “When I draw,” he says, “I usually draw in different layers, but what’s essential are the lines. I like this purity.
Kayrouz achieved his sharp lines in several ways; materials played a key role, followed closely by construction method. He worked with both vinyl and heavyweight jersey for his new tailoring. Adding seams to the front and back of the jackets body and on the sleeves gives them a graphic and architectural shape. They’ll cut a striking silhouette without dating as quickly as many of the eccentric suits we’ve seen on recent runways.
A pair of strapless maxi dresses that seemed destined for the Oscars red carpet also had statuesque proportions. The Basque-like curves at their hips are the result of patterning, Kayrouz said, not padding. Even grander were a pair of dresses whose volumes were achieved by sewing individual rings of varying lengths of cord between two layers of tulle.
Other dresses replicated these couture shapes, but rendered as they were in a technical water-repellent taffeta, with rip cord detailing or the elasticated hems of sportswear, they leaned more relaxed – not pointy, per se. , but easy to wear in a way that met Kayrouz’s “clean” criteria. A third evening look in a deep shade of chocolate combined the elegance of a jersey column with puffy taffeta sleeves.
Kayrouz presented the collection in a Right Bank apartment overlooking Rue de Rivoli, across the river from her loft-like studio. Ikram Goldman was on a Zoom placing an order for her Chicago boutique Ikram on my own virtual date, and later she wrote to me, “Love how Rabih can take an oversized piece and mix it with something narrow to create a luxurious, yet effortless and chic look.