From high couture to readymade collections Reem Acra designs bespeak technical acumen, remarkable creativity and a fervent regard for finer detail. Since launching her first fashion business in 1997 her designs have taken the limelight in luxurious fabrics, texture and rich colour.
“I have been designing for as long as I can remember,” says Acra of her beginnings. “I started to design and make my own clothing from a very young age. My parents absolutely encouraged me to go to the local fabric markets and start re-working the tablecloths into clothing!”
An ornately embroidered silk organza gown, Acra made from her mother’s dining room tablecloth that she wore to a party, caught the attention of a fashion editor. At the time Acra, who was attending the American University of Beirut, was instantly offered to host a fashion show. Following this opportunity she went on to study at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and its Paris counterpart at Esmod.
Acra’s first bridal design for a society wedding earned international interest and marked the beginning of Reem Acra bridals, a niche she has flourished in for designs of ethereal quality and classic elegance. “It’s so funny when it’s referred to as my niche—it’s really just my taste and aesthetic—I design beautiful gowns for beautiful women. I understand what a woman wants to wear and how to best dress her body—she is the star of her wedding’s aisle or ‘red carpet’.” Acra’s bridal gowns gained renown as she succeeded in transforming classic bridal designs using the finest silks, intricate beading and exquisite embroidery.
A labour of love with much time, effort, energy and love invested into each creation
Her innate ability to match a look to a woman’s personality has placed her in good stead amongst style icons. “My signature is knowing how to dress women. I can gauge a lot from one look. I often only have to meet someone once, for a few minutes, to understand their style and confidence. I guess you could say that I am very observant,” she says of her strengths.
As a result she is sought after amongst global style icons, some of whom she has dressed for weddings, red carpet appearances and award ceremonies. “Halle Berry was the first A-list celebrity to wear my designs on the red carpet. It was the first of many more over the years. But that moment really stands out as the turning point.” Her following gained over time includes Angelina Jolie, Beyonce Knowles, Catherine Zeta Jones and Eva Longoria as well as royal families around the world.
Inspiration to design such collections that in turn inspire discerning clientele she draws from her surroundings. “I am constantly inspired by NYC and the streets. I also gain inspiration from my many travels and trips for instance, Bodrum, Paris and Dubai. I always keep my eyes open as I never know what I might come across that will hit a chord and inspire an entire collection.” And a design element she is favouring lately is illusion netting as she simply,
“loves the look it adds to the gowns.”
Acra’s Haute Couture collection, which also carries the distinctive elegant and classic style, she describes as a labour of love with much time, effort, energy and love invested into each creation. “Every piece is a unique piece of artwork. I always have some couture pieces in my runway shows and I have an extensive private couture client list; everyone wanting something custom and completely unique and special to them.”
More recently her Spring/Summer line at New York Fashion Week was very well received. “I loved this last collection. I have been spending a lot of time in Paris lately. The women of Paris have such an innate sensuality—I tried to capture some of that in this collection. I also looked to the famous couturiers of past decades and tried to re-imagine how their clients would dress today.”
And what can be expected from Reem Acra in the near future?
“I have a lot of surprises up my sleeve. You will have to wait and see!”
*Prices range from USD 5,000 to more than USD 11,000