How Lebanese designer Zuhair Murad became a celebrity favourite

His alluring and elegant gowns have been an enduring awards season favourite

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Glamour. It's the one word that perhaps best encapsulates why Zuhair Murad has such a devoted fan base across the globe.

The Lebanese designer has been busy outfitting scores of women for awards season. For the 2023 Brit Awards on February 12, Murad dressed Jodie Turner-Smith in a spectacular knotted and draped silver gown from his spring 2023 haute couture collection, while at the Grammy Awards on February 5, he dressed actress and singer Coco Jones in a gold sequinned gown with a sweetheart neckline; and Megan Fox in a corseted, beaded gown with heart-embroidered detailing. Murad also dressed actress Brittany O’Grady for her appearance at the Los Angeles premiere of The Consultant, in a fitted, pearl-covered resort 2023 dress, while Spanish actress Silvia Abascal wore a chiffon one-shouldered chiffon gown in lilac to the Goya Awards 2023 in Seville.

Seemingly able to conjure a length of chiffon into a swirling fairytalesque gown, Murad has an uncanny ability to turn even the most mundane of fabrics into something fabulous.

He doesn't deal in anything mundane, of course. A member of the prestigious La Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, Murad works with only the finest of materials, rendering them into sculpted, elegant shapes that are tailored and draped to flatter the female form. Dressing celebrities, socialites and brides in showstopping creations is his raison d'etre, while plunging necklines, acres of sequins and beadwork are some of his signatures, captured in an opulent palette that pivots around gold, champagne and pewter.

Since launching his namesake house in Beirut in 2005, the Lebanese creative has risen from regional designer to darling of the red carpet, crafting dresses oozing with allure and worn by celebrities the world over. Those searching for a look laced with pizzazz — be it Jennifer Lopez, in a sequinned gown the colour of sapphires; Shanina Shaik in a t

ranslucent kaftan scattered with pearls; or Rita Ora in a mermaid skirt and caped top in pale lilac and smothered in beading — know that Murad will provide it.

Speaking with US magazine in 2019, Murad explained why women love his designs. “I think they are drawn to the fact that my designs set the tone for an unforgettable moment.” When Lopez married Ben Affleck, she wore custom-made Murad; as did Tunisian actress Dorra Zarrouk for her nuptials, and models Jasmine Tookes and Devon Windsor for their respective weddings.

In an interview with The National in 2017, Murad explained why he is drawn to dressing women. “There is something about glamorous women who like to take care of themselves, who like to be beautiful and elegant.”

Now, Murad is gearing up for his ready-to-wear autumn/winter 2023 collection at Paris Fashion Week in a few weeks, which comes only a month after his showing in Paris for Haute Couture Week.

Unsurprisingly, Murad is also a go-to for many women in the Middle East, including Lebanese television presenter and producer Raya Abirached, who wore an off-shoulder black evening gown for the Golden Globes in January; as well as Jessica Kahawaty, Annabella Hilal, Nadine Nassib Njeim and Youssra, all of whom chose gowns by Murad for the Red Sea International Film Festival last December.

Such is the lure of his decadent gowns that Murad's appeal stretches beyond Hollywood and the Mena region. He dressed entrepreneur Becky G in a multicoloured organza ball gown for the Annual Latin Grammy Awards 2022; Angela Baby in a flared gown beaded with signs of the zodiac for the MGA 2022 Weibo Summit in China; and Pilar Rubio, wife of the footballer Sergio Ramos, for the Globe Soccer Awards.

With an appeal that bypasses borders, Murad's position as a red carpet favourite continues to endure. As we look forward to the next iteration of his ready-to-wear, and the glitzy spin it will most certainly contain, one thing is certain: Murad is enjoying himself.

“Every day there is a new challenge, a new project," he told The National at his atelier in Beirut.

"For me, we are at the beginning, with a lot of things to do. Maybe there will be a perfume, maybe make-up. I am lucky because I do something I really love. I have worked very hard to get here, and it's not easy to get to this level. It is a little stressful, but I enjoy what I do. This is my life and it is amazing.”

Updated: February 16, 2023, 4:06 AM