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The man Priyanka, JLo, Beyonce, Angelina love

By Avantika Bhuyan
March 10, 2016 12:10 IST
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The designer behind Priyanka Chopra's dress at the Oscars is a favourite with Hollywood A-listers.

Priyanka Chopra

IMAGE: Priyanka Chopra in a Zuhair Murad sheer white gown at Oscars 2016. Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Yards of newsprint have been devoted to the ensemble that Priyanka Chopra wore to the Oscars recently. Not only did the dress win Chopra points for her fashion choices, it also generated a lot of curiosity about the man behind the exquisite white sheer ensemble: Zuhair Murad.

"The Lebanese designer is known for his use of embroidery and shimmer while building his elegant masterpieces. Chopra's white dress was one such example and a standout on the red carpet this season," say Anushka Mulchandani and Marvin D'Souza from Team MissMalini.

Jennifer Lopez

IMAGE: In a sheer floor-scraping gown, Jennifer Lopez dazzles at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in 2015. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

No stranger to dressing Hollywood A-listers for the red carpet, Murad has been a favourite with Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce and Catherine Zeta-Jones. In fact, Lopez wore his creations to three major events in 2015: the Golden Globes, the Vanity Fair post-Oscars party and the American Music Awards.

He also designed Modern Family star Sofia Vergara's stunning bridal gown which, according to news reports, consisted of a hand-embroidered bodice, 11 pounds of sequins, six pounds of pearls and needed 32 people to finish the design.

"If you look at the people Murad has dressed on the red carpet, be it Jolie or Zeta-Jones, these are women who enjoy making a statement," says fashion commentator Sujata Assomull. "These are women who know how to play the 'oomph' card. Murad may not be as obvious a choice as Oscar de la Renta or Valentino, but you know that he will deliver."

Born in Baalbek, Lebanon, Murad has made significant inroads into the international fashion world ever since he opened his first atelier in Beirut in 1997 to cater to private clientele. He went global in 2001 when he presented his couture collection for the first time at the Haute Couture Week in Paris to remarkable media applause and there has been no looking back since.

Today, he owns the Zuhair Murad Fashion House, which spans an 11-storey building in the heart of Beirut, where designers, pattern makers and embroidery experts come together to bring his exquisite designs to life. He not only opened a second office in Paris recently, but has also made his presence felt at over 100 points of sales in the United States, France, United Kingdom, Monaco, Japan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and more.

Murad was only 10 when he started sketching dresses. 'I don't recall a day in my life without a pen in my hand,' he said in a previous interview.

His designs are influenced by his childhood memories and the traditions of his land. 'Nature and landscape, where tones and colours blend to create wonderful sceneries throughout the year, serve as a great source of inspiration to me,' he told Savoir Flair. 'But, most important, elegance is a Lebanese lifestyle. Everybody is into fashion and women are beautiful and so stylish, so it comes as no surprise that, every season, my collections celebrate feminine beauty.'

 Sofia Vergara

IMAGE: Modern Family star Sofia Vergara in a sparkly Zuhair Murad number at the Golden Globes afterparty in 2014. Photograph: Phil McCarten/Reuters

Murad's forte lies in bridal wear and red carpet ensembles. He loves playing with Chantilly lace, tulle, mikado and organza in all shades of whites and pastels.

The ensemble that he put together for Chopra seemed to have been inspired by his Spring 2016 couture, in which he made liberal use of 3D floral embroidery, sequins, satin and lace, spread across the latticework. His design philosophy is all about bringing age-old skills, handed down from generation to generation, to the fore, while creating a true work of art and luxury.

"Murad's genius lies in the way he presents an intricately traditional design ideology in a new, evolved form. In the context of luxury, this means that his garments are rich in detail, in terms of embroidery and applique, and have a strong aesthetic direction. Subtle and yet captivating!" say Mulchandani and D'Souza.

So, is it possible to get a Zuhair Murad creation in India yet? "Not yet! But with the online retail wave building up, shoppers better keep their wish list ready," they say.

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Avantika Bhuyan
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