The Beirut fashion house Ashi Studio delivered its autumn/winter 2022-2023 couture collection in Paris this week.
Founded in the Lebanese capital by Saudi designer Mohammed Ashi, the label made the most of the world's press gathered in the French capital to showcase its new range.
While not formally part of the official haute couture circuit, many smaller houses such as Ashi Studio often present their collections during Haute Couture Week. Other regional names to have done this include Rami Al Ali and Azzi & Osta.
Ashi Studio presented a winter collection called The Waves, held under the vaulted ceiling of the American Cathedral, against a simple cream backdrop. Ashi delivered 21 looks that the designer likened to being "shrouded like armour".
This was translated into a series of structured tailored pieces that stood away from the body, such as the opening look of an almost tubular velvet dress, cinched at the waist.
One bubble-like sheath arrived in silver brocade to contrast another in fragile pink feathers. The same cocoon shape evolved into an encasing round of red satin, open at the front to reveal a matching bodysuit underneath, and once again into a bulbous cape over a fitted dress.
More sharp tailoring was seen with a severe mini swing dress with a long train, and as a sculpted corseted dress with a high front and trailing side panels, which were lifted with just a hint of black-on-black beadwork on the skirt. The same high neckline was also used on a floor-length bridal dress in ivory that came with hidden pockets.
The flip side to this severity was soft draping, seen on a sleek, circular-cut top, paired with a gathered skirt, and on a flowing organza skirt with a rippling, ruffled hem. One ivory, corseted mini dress arrived wrapped in metres of fluid taffeta that gathered in puffs at the shoulder and hip, while another dress arrived entirely hidden under an explosion of grey feathers.
With much of the collection left deliberately undecorated, the exceptions were notable. A high-waisted, kick flare skirt, for example, was covered in jet beading and worn with a tiny crop top, and a strapless gown was completed smothered in swirls of silver sequins, like undulating waves.
Elegant, restrained and cut with skill, this eloquent offering is steeped in craftsmanship, showing not only why the house has legions of loyal clients, but also why Ashi Studio is worthy of the status of couture.