PARIS – Zuhair Murad has become the designer every Hollywood stylist has on speed dial (or at least Skype as his ateliers are in Paris and his hometown of Beirut) -- after all, wearing one of his form-fitting gowns is practically guaranteed to land a client on the best dressed lists. Known for his classic cuts and intricate bead work that show just enough skin to be a bit racy, it’s the perfect combination of the Old Hollywood glamour that young Hollywood craves.
Most recently he’s dressed Taylor Swift for the Billboard Awards in May, and earlier this year Catherine Zeta-Jones wore a gilded Murad gown to the Oscars. Miley Cyrus, Blake Lively, Marion Cotillard and Beyonce are all fans, and Jennifer Lopez has worn his dresses to the Oscars, Globes and the Met Gala.
Kristen Stewart, who is usually spotted in jeans and tees, made headlines when she packed several barely-there Murad pieces for her Breaking Dawn - Part 2 world tour last year. At Thursday's show, Stewart sat with stylist Tara Swennen, and the two whispered about favorite looks, including a stunning royal blue gown. Stewart blew kisses to Murad.
The unassuming Lebanese designer sat down with The Hollywood Reporter just before his fall/winter Haute Couture show in Paris’ tony 16th arrondissement wrapped up the fashion week. He spoke to us about his most memorable red carpet moments.
The Hollywood Reporter: The show’s in an hour but you seem very calm.
This is my character. I look very calm from outside, but inside it’s like I am a volcano. We prepare a lot before the show with fittings and castings, lighting, music, everything for two or three months to be ready at this moment. Of course, at the last moment anything can happen but I hope not!
THR: What was your inspiration for this collection?
For me it’s like a dream for a young woman so there is a lot of luxury touches on the dresses, satin, lace, chiffon, shiny fabrics and glittering embroidery, some sequins and crystals. She saw in her dreams she is in an enchanted forest with lighting from the moon and full of sparkling dresses. It’s her dream, because couture is a dream for me.
THR: You work a lot with Hollywood …
Yes, and I love it!
THR: What do you love about it?
I love to see my creations on Hollywood celebrities. For me it’s something very emotional when you see your creation on a beautiful American celebrity and the whole world sees your work. It’s very important exposure. And I know how the stars are very picky and really focus on small details to be aware of their image and beautiful and perfect on the red carpet, so it’s really very emotional that they choose to wear my creations.
THR: What was the moment you felt you had really made it in Hollywood?
You know, so many times, it was like one after another after another after another and each more important.
But there are some moments that I can’t forget, for example Jennifer Lopez at the Met Gala in 2010, she wore a beautiful Haute Couture ball gown in silver grey. Really she was gorgeous. She is always gorgeous, but that dress was really very special.
When Kristen Stewart wore the golden dress with transparent lace to the [Breaking Dawn] premiere – the whole world was talking about that dress! It was a big moment for me.
Also Taylor Swift with the golden beaded dress at the Grammys [in 2012]. She said that was her favorite dress of the year, so that was really special for me. Really, there are a lot of moments and every one is emotional for me.
THR: Is there anyone you particularly like working with?
Jennifer Lopez. We’ve become friends and she’s my muse. I love her as a person and as a woman. I love her curves and I love her attitude and the way she walks out in a dress. And as a person she’s so sweet, I love her.
THR: You work with people from Kristen Stewart to Taylor Swift to Jennifer Lopez to Catherine Zeta-Jones – different generations, very different styles. What do you think it is about your designs that appeals to such different types of personalities?
You know, it’s nice when you see your clothes on different kinds of people, with different personalities and different beauty because I design for beautiful women, but not for one character or one personality. Dresses can also contrast with a personality, or bring out another side of someone. And different personalities can bring another side to my work.
THR: Do you have any plans to open an atelier or boutique in Los Angeles, to be even closer to your Hollywood clients?
We are working on this and we hope that we can find the right location, because it’s very important to find the right space. There is demand there, we are always asked about it, there is the demand but we want to make sure it’s right. But it’s definitely in our plan for the near future.