Lebanese-born designer Rabih Kayrouz does his best to hit the sweet spot of styling: feminine but not too fitted; casual but not sloppy; appropriate but not formal. Okay, so the amount of sheer material he uses, especially in tops, might stretch one’s definition of “appropriate.” Still, what he’s striving for is clothes that hit that every-day niche without looking too every-day boring. There’s no khaki for example, though there’s nothing wrong with khaki. There’s no denim, though there’s nothing wrong with that material, either. His silhouettes say casual and comfortable, his fabric choices of satin, crepe, lace, and leather say luxury. Together, they do a good job of hitting that middle ground that many women want and need, but which too many designers manage to miss.
While the looks sometimes skew younger with short skirts and open blouses, there are plenty of ensembles in the mix that are easily cross-generational. A loose fitting white smock shirt pairs nicely with a wrapped and folded white asymmetrical skirt. A lovely sleeveless, belted dress with large black polka dots only needs a change of shoes to go so easily from day wear to a nice but casual dinner. A very polite rose print top with matching jacket fits nicely with linen slacks that is casual with rolled hems and sandals, but could just as easily go professional with standard hem and pumps. Kayrouz gives a lot of versatility to his ensembles that makes the whole collection desirable.
Where versatility takes a back seat is with color. Red and blue and black and white rule the day, and at no point are the red nor the blue so very bright as to grab a lot of attention. This doesn’t keep the clothes from making a statement, but it keeps that statement a little more subtle, like casual conversation versus trying to yell.
If there is a challenge to this collection it lies in the fact that many of the looks do feel destined for the juniors department, which means older women may not have a chance to peruse some of the nicer, more feminine looks. The short skirts and sheer blouses are certainly attractive and stylish, but are age limiting and shelf placement pushes those looks toward a decidedly younger crowd.
Still, now that one knows about Maison Rabih Kayrouz, one knows the label is not limited to juniors or misses. This is a collection that hits the middle ground of ready-to-wear and claims it for its own. Wear and be well.
Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier