Two weeks ago I found myself in Paris during Fashion Week, and I was ushered backstage to take a quick peek and I find two models — with cupid lips and flawless skin — seated on the floor as controlled chaos reigned overhead.
The models were napping like languid cats, waiting for their turn to have their hair and makeup done before the show begins. It was 8 am, and the atmosphere was already exciting as the 9:30 show began to come together.
I was at the Hyatt Regency on Boulevard Malesherbes, the setting for the fashion show of Egyptian designer Marie Louis Bishara who now regularly premieres her new collections during Fashion Week in Paris.
Bishara’s Spring/Summer 2011 show was her fifth appearance at Paris Fashion Week and she is the only Egyptian to be on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar — an accomplishment which comes after years of working in her family’s business, Bishara Textile Garment Manufacturing Company (BTM).
After obtaining her degree in fashion from Esmode, Paris, Bishara started her own line in 1989 upon her return to Egypt.
She now sells her Marie Louis Bishara in several stores in Egypt, and also sells overseas under the more Arabicized name of Marie Bishara. Her work has been met with much success overseas, particularly in Germany, due to German aesthetics running in line with the classic tastes and designs of Bishara, said BTM project manager Karim Ramiz.
At her show on that drizzly morning, Bishara presents a varied collection full of patterns and embellishment in vibrant colors yet also sober grays and blacks.
Guests seated in the front row included members of the French press, a couple of magazine editors from Egypt, guests from the Egyptian community in Paris, and the Egyptian ambassador’s wife.
One after another, the models walked the catwalk and Bishara showed off a diverse collection: casual daywear, professional wear, cocktail wear, eveningwear and bridal wear. The question one might ask: Why is it so varied?
“I wear a lot of different hats, and therefore I won’t create a collection with only three colors,” says Bishara.
Bishara is a wife, a mother of two, a businesswoman helping BTM — her family’s company, which produces textiles and clothes for both the local Egyptian market and for export — run smoothly, and a member of the Franco-Egyptian Presidential Business Council. Needless to say, Bishara is well aware of the varied needs of her clientele.
“I dress too many different women and I can’t corner myself into only one frame … I’m surrounded by many different women.”
Yet, Bishara shows a collection that was certainly bold in colors, embellishment and detail. “This is the first time I had the strength to use fuchsia, violet and the intensity of satin material. The colors were inspired by the sunrise [and also] the reflection of a mother of pearl shell [in its swirls of color].
“I am trying to teach myself to be less conservative, and [this collection] was an exercise I did with myself to dress a woman who in her spare time can express her femininity,” Bishara said.
The silhouettes of her cocktail wear and eveningwear designs were soft on the body. There was the intention of fluidity, with relaxed fits and cuts. The designs were neither novel in shape nor concept, as they played on classic forms for women who like their style to be classic and romantic, Bishara explained. And as always, there are original touches on each and every one of her designs.
A wedding dress is made of blush tones of lace with a pharoanic collar in silver beading detail. A blazer and skirt ensemble for corporate wear have a thick line of black beading that runs down from the jacket onto the skirt, helping to visually draw and accentuate the wearer’s curves.
Yet what greatly piqued my curiosity was a flash of beige with silver embroidery, a dress the models had worn for picture-taking purposes. It was the traditional Egyptian embroidery of shandawil, worked upon dresses cut short for the evening time. This new concept will be developed into a whole collection, Bishara explained, described the idea as “cross-cultural creativity.”
Marie Louis Bishara is available at all Marie Louis and BTM stores across Egypt, and through www.bishara.com.eg.
A heavily embellished dress by Marie Louis Bishara, designed for the woman who likes a feminine romantic look explains Bishara. Photo by George Bukajlo.
A model struts the catwalk during the show with press and guests looking on. Photo Credit: Heba Elkayal
Bishara plans on developing her experimentation of shandawil embroidery on contemporary silhouettes for a whole line in the near future. Photo by: George Bukajlo.