Meet Krikor Jabotian, a Lebanese couturier who entered the fashion scene at an early age, by starting a fruitful yet inspiring experience at the infamous Elie Saab fashion house. After seven months, Krikor, 23, stepped out to start his own independent brand, and joined Starch foundation- a non-profit organization founded by Maison Rabih Kayrouz, where he displayed his very first collection; and from that moment it marked the beginning of his career. The embroidery prince finally founded his own brand of an energetic workshop where his imagination and innovative designs flourish from day-to-day.
The young fashion designer talks about his embroidery technique, the challenges he faced and the women he designs for.
Tell us about your process and what environment you like to work in. What is your design philosophy?
My creative process is quite spontaneous, reflecting a big part of my personality. I start with one idea and evolves based on trial and error, many iterations and experiments. I like working in a peaceful environment, and to feel happy and inspired by those around me. The final collections are always the product of different people working hard together, to bring extraordinary ideas to life. My idea of a work environment is one that brings out the talents and the know-hows of the different team members in order to create amazing designs. My design philosophy is to make every woman look as beautiful as possible through couture.
How did Krikor Jabotian evolve since it first started?
I started out as a fashion design student at ESMOD Beirut. After working with Elie Saab, I was eager to launch my own brand, integrating what I had learned from him in terms of technique and taste in embroidery. This is why I joined the Starch Foundation, where I began making sales and understanding the demand of my own designs. The brand was first independently based in a small showroom in Beirut. As our vision grew and our collections evolved, it turned into a family business, now based in a much more developed atelier. We’re evolving year after year, quite organically, and we’re happy with that kind of growth.
Fashion is ever-changing with endless trends. What are the steps in your creative process that would incorporate these trends in an upcoming collection?
I always say I’m inspired by both the beautiful and the ugly. This applies to all forms of inspiration, including fashion trends. My creative process is a combination of staying true to the Krikor Jabotian aesthetic which features signature embroideries, while innovating in the volumes and textures of the pieces.
What motivates and inspires you to always work towards new methods of design?
As a designer, you’re always as good as your collections. This is why I try to outdo myself every time I come up with a new collection, challenging myself to be innovative with every piece, and never repeating myself. It can be very tricky to stay true to your identity as a designer while evolving and surprising your clientele with something new. Exceeding my clients’ expectations while maintaining my signature style is what motivates me.
How did living in Beirut inspire your work?
Beirut is a very inspiring setting, especially for young designers. It is a beautiful and chaotic city that blends the eastern with western cultures. This often reflects in our art and design. The intricacy of traditional Lebanese designs inspires the details in my work and at the same time, growing up in an Armenian family has definitely influenced my designs and the stories I tell.
Now that the Wedding Season is just around the corner, what will the 2017 bride look like?
The 2017 bridal collection is dramatic and opulent. The Krikor Jabotian bride is always classic yet playful- her dress is contemporary and malleable enough to dance with her. There are no strict guidelines for what the 2017 bride will look like; the main focus of our bridal designs is practicality and functionality, in order for the bride to enjoy herself on her big day.
In the last few years, the fashion industry has become extremely competitive. What is some advice you would give to upcoming designers starting their own line?
My best advice would be to remain authentic- find your strengths and style, and develop them without feeling the need to conform to or replicate what others are doing.
What piece of tool could you not live without?
What are your favourite fabrics to work with and why?
I love embroidering on tulle, creating an entire fabric out of the tulle itself. My signature style is this type of embroidered fabric which makes up most of my collections. Embroidered tulle is often a great way for me to showcase the intricacy of my designs.
Do you use a sketchbook?
Yes, sketching is a key element in my design process and I have been sketching since the day I learned how to hold a pen and paper. Every design starts with a sketch that often evolves once it becomes a piece after many fittings.
What was the greatest challenge you faced in creating Krikor Jabotian?
I opened my first showroom when I was just 23. And as you can imagine, it’s difficult to always make the right decisions and collaborate with the right people and manage a company at such a young age. I am also an auto-critique by nature, and therefore, finding my place within the competitive Lebanese designer scene, I was constantly challenging myself and competing with myself to make the brand what it is today.
What is the image of the woman you want to emphasize?
I design for ladies – elegant, sophisticated women who have an eye for details and who appreciate couture. My designs are for women who are looking to stand out, without being overstated.
What would you say is the ultimate crime of taste?
The ultimate crime of taste is simply following a trend. People should always take into consideration whether the trend suits their personality, body type, ad tastes before adopting it.
What is your ultimate vision for the Krikor Jabotian brand?
My ultimate goal is to take the brand as far as it can go, and we definitely have a few ideas about what that might look like.
By Dana Mortada