Madame Khulud burst onto the Kuwait fashion scene a mere eight months ago with her triumvirate of talented designers and is already turning it on its head with innovative new ideas, incredible craftsmanship and a dash of fierceness
(inspired, of course, by her Spanish mother).
Atelier Lioness is about taking Middle Eastern couture traditions - heavy beading, extreme tailoring and major glamour - and making them modern. This incredible dress from the fashion week show is the perfect example of that. It’s a dreamy, floaty confection that still pays tribute to the luxe detailing Kuwaiti designers so love while making it more palatable for Western tastes. While many Kuwaiti fashion designs are more suited for the likes of glamazons like Beyonce, Shakira or Rhianna, this dress has Anne Hathaway or Emma Stone’s name written all over it.
Madame Khulud eschews the traditional hierarchy practices of Kuwaiti design houses where the designers who are actually making the garments are never given proper credit for their hard work. Instead, she has empowered each of her three masterful designers - Patrik Basil, Elie Abou Mrad and Fadi Seklawi - with her support and resources to foster their individual creativity. She will never put her own name on their designs; the Lioness Couture brand is a team effort where individual strengths are applauded and talent is fostered.
She likens the creative process to having a child of your own. You’ve conceptualized it, nurtured it and it feels like an extension of you. For that to be taken away - to have someone else’s name slapped onto it - feels like a violation and is actually quite emotional. That’s why Madame Khulud is so adamant that her designers keep their names on their designs. It’s an unheard of practice in Kuwait and one she intends to stand by. Her newest hire, Elie Abou Mrad, started only last month and he and his team have already completed two wedding dresses and 26 Haute Couture pieces- an astonishing number and one that reinforces the seriousness of the label.
Not that she’s completely out of the game herself. While she was giving us a quick behind-the-scenes tour of the studio, we discovered a rack of the most elegant, sophisticated and well-made clothes we’d seen all week, on or off the runway. She has plans to create her own collection under the Lioness Couture label eventually - but for now is busy running the day-to-day demands of running a start-up.
And for all that ambition and drive, Madame Khulud remains one of the most humble, thoughtful and honest entrepreneurs in the business. We had such a lovely conversation with her, chatting animatedly about everything from her haters to the business of marketing yourself as a designer in Kuwait (“the designer must make a new dress for each magazine”) to her six (count them - six!) children. She even gifted our EIC a dress to wear to an event on the red carpet later that night, on the spot!
Her hospitality extends beyond just outfitting our Editor-in-Chief with a gorgeous dress to wear on the red carpet. She also took Sandegren to the local fish restaurant for lunch, Muhallab Restaurant, Palms Hotel - one of her favorite local spots and a gesture of friendship that extended well beyond a delicious fish dinner.
It’s this kind of natural generosity and openness that sets Madame Khulud apart from her competitors; as she herself stated it’s “not about just getting money,” but building relationships and pursuing passions to achieve an artistic goal.