Punk Couture

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Couture. It’s a powerful word, one which instantly commands connotations of grandeur and beauty. But Ziad Ghanem’s design vision is one which redefines the word, viewing the beauty of bespoke through a thoroughly modern and eccentrically youthful lens.

Now a decade into his reign as London’s cult couturier, Ghanem’s brand of luxury punk has earned him a remarkable following. From adorning the pages of UK Vogue, to dressing the likes of Naomi Campbell, his success is one which is not only refined to the kooks and queens of London’s clubland.

Celebrated for his more-is-more take on proportion and structure, Ghanem’s creations meld the backbones of classic couture with the avant-garde styling of 1990s club-kids. When asked who his designs are created for, the designer’s love of the fearlessly experimental London girl is immediately apparent, “London is Cosmopolitan, I design for the free spirit that the London girl embodies. Where-ever there is freedom, there is also inspiration. I love the individuality of Londoners and I’m fascinated by the subcultures found here: Goths, punks, skinheads …”

As with any off-schedule, niche designer on the circuit, it is easy to become labelled, compartmentalised. But with Ghanem, any preconceptions of brash hipsterdom are immediately crushed under the weight of his raw talent in design- these are the most intricate of pieces, constructed with the most painstaking of methods.

The SS14 HELL-O collection presents Queen Victoria as muse-du-jour, with fairytale elements from the wickedly delicious villains of iconic Walt Disney pictures. The result is a line of stage-worthy showstoppers for women of stance and regality- here, wallflowers need not apply. Gowns are floor-length, voluminous and dramatically billowing, with lace inserts and embellishment breaking up blocks of jewel-toned colour. Elements of old Hollywood are dramatised beyond recognition, creating fairytale-like silhouettes- these gowns are made for true drama queens.

Ghanem’s celebration of the female form is all-encompassing with pieces produced for, and modelled on, women of sizes 8-24. Ghanem is the first to admit that designing for one standard size is easier, but a desire to explore the body in its true, and vastly varying, forms is a accomplishment worthy of true satisfaction.

“When designing, I explore the body in terms of shape, height and width, working around the limitations to present each individual in the most flattering way. Making clothes for various sizes is a complex procedure and requires a few fittings. When clothes are properly fitted they look great on anybody – from a size 0 to size 100. The real issue is poorly- fitted clothes: the consumer needs to stop being fooled into buying things that don’t suit and becoming pushed to achieve an unrealistic ideal. Reality is- the standard model is not the standard shopper- and fashion should reflect this,” he says.

Ghanem has always selected his models on their unique attributes, shunning the industry standard of cookie-cutter commercial beauties. When selecting his models, a love and understanding of their clothing is a requisite as he remarks, “When my models come for a casting, they choose their own outfits- and they always seem to choose the things that have been pre-designed for them. My models become part of my family and that is why I continue to collaborate with them, season after season. Above anything else, I have to work with people who have a good attitude.”

Ghanem’s vision is one of confident direction, and fearless uniqueness. In shunning the ever evolving trends of mass fashion, he has carved out a cult following, one which stays true to the Ghanem vision season after season.

by Roberta Lister

Ziad Ghanem presents his AW14 collection at London Fashion Week in February



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Glass Online fashion writer

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