When I think of innovative, jaw-dropping London haute-couture, I instantly think of Ziad Ghanem. The Lebanese fashion designer who set himself up in the UK 10 years ago makes some of the most incredible, beautiful and distinctive clothing I’ve ever seen. I could write a few clichés here about how he pushes the frontiers of fashion, takes new materials to extremes etc etc but it’s probably best expressed by showing you the very clothes he makes. No piece on Ghanem is without a mention of his models. His runway show is one of the few I actually have any interest in watching, involving a circus of unique characters who don his garments. In interviews he has said himself that he could make his life much easier by working to a set fashion sample size, but instead he chooses to make his outfits to fit particular people. Stars of his recent shows have included make-up artist and plus-size model Bea Sweet, voluptuous burlesque beauty Immodesty Blaize, fetish performer Marnie Scarlet and ballet dancer Helen Crawford. Far from the blank-canvas clothes-hanger models of many a catwalk show, Ghanem’s models come in all shapes and sizes. Some are heavily tattooed and pierced, some have a very distinctive look, some with an androgynous, gender-bending alien quality to them and the garments accentuate their figures and personal styles. The show has touches of the theatrical but isn’t a freak-show. Ghanem doesn’t choose his models to shock the audience or make a point about fashion, the models are his favourite people, people who love fashion and act as muses for him to build his creations around.
The S/S 2012 collection is inspired by polish film ‘Matka Joanna od aniolow’, a tale of a nun possessed by evil spirits. The collection is filled with images of virginal purity (Ghanem even uses his cherubic young niece as a model) and sexy, black wickedness.