PARIS, Jun 19, 2002 (Updated Jan 27, 2010)/ — At a time when the Chambre Syndicale estimates there are at most 2,000 women actually buying (not just borrowing) couture, designer Georges Chakra could probably double that number on his own.
Chakra keeps an atelier of 60 working permanently in his home city of Beirut, and sometimes dresses several hundred women at grand society weddings in the Middle East, where he has a loyal and booming clientele.
On Monday July 8, 2002, the opening day of the Paris haute couture season, gentlemanly Georges will stage his first couture catwalk show in Europe in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs on the rue de Rivoli. Unlike most of his fellow couturiers, Chakra has a clear goal in creating haute couture — he wants to make clothes for women to wear, not just borrow.
“Even if this show is about building our image I still want to make wearable couture. My style is too strong, and what’s the point of making clothes just to show off?” argues Chakra over a diet Coke in cafe Etienne Marcel.
At the ripe young age of 22 he opened his own couture house in Beirut and has been staging shows there for a decade. Once he famously presented a catwalk show underneath the bomb-damaged roof of the Grand Theatre of Beirut.
“It was a little tricky, seeing as how it began raining in through a huge hole in the roof. But we coped, we always do,” smiled Chakra.
Chakra began off studying interior design before enrolling in Ottawa’s Academie des Couturiers Canadians. His inspirations were grand designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Gianfranco Ferre.
“I love beautiful clothes and eccentricity, but the result must be stylish and plausible.”
His is a grand style inspired by his regular travels and an aesthetic that mixes the charm of the Orient with the pizzazz of the West. Chakra, 44, describes his clientele as “sexy, sensual, fussy and capricious women.”
“I never sell in boutiques but deal with clients directly. It’s an ancient idea of fashion but the pace of life in the Orient is slower so our women have a lot of time to enjoy the refinements of life. Except for women in Beirut, none of my Middle Eastern clients work. They don’t have to.”
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