Krikor Jabotian is a designer almost defensive about his own wild, unbridled sense of creativity. ‘I am completely incapable of censoring my imagination,’ he states. The result of this free-flowing style is an otherworldly expression created by a blast of fine feathery lace, billowing powdery drapes and beads that drip like candle wax. Still, he insists, ‘In spite of how conceptual my work may be it is still very much functional. My clients come to me for statement pieces that are wearable. They look at the fabric, the lines, the contrast of colours, all the makings of a brilliant sartorial piece and they have faith in my ability to deliver these details.’
This surrealist imagery the dresses evoke can be mapped back to his childhood where a journey began ‘at home with the layers of ruffles on my mother’s skirts and the elegance that she exuded.’ From an early age Jabotian began working on his design skills before enrolling in a fashion design course at ESMOD Beirut. Testament to his gift for design, Jabotian was snapped up as part of Ellie Saab’s creative team shortly after graduation which brought him into contact with another renowned Beirut designer Rabih Kayrouz, central to the promotion and success of many other young Lebanese designers, who showcased Jabotian’s talent through his creative outlet Starch.
Jabotian believes this group effort amongst designers in sadly missing in other parts of the Middle East. ‘Unfortunately,’ he says, ‘when it comes to fashion in the Middle East, we lack a collective culture. Competiveness is especially prevalent here. We must be willing to collaborate creatively in order to make this happen.’ Yet the lessons Jabotian learnt in the early stages of what should be a very fruitful career have largely been driven by the collapse of a business partnership when he was forced to take undertake both design and operations for the business. ‘Realising that I have the strength and ability to take on full responsibility of my business alone was a very proud moment for me. I now have the knowledge to take part on an administrative and creative level,’ he recalls.
There is little doubt that this act of self-dependence helped shape Jabotian into being the designer he is today and the brave dreamy subterfuge his dresses act out could only be conjured by a designer with complete creative license and luckily for Jabotian this impulse comes naturally. He says, ‘There’s definitely a kind of duality in my work that stems from what I appreciate the most in each culture. I see both effortlessness and intricacy in my designs; I believe that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication… an enduring love.’
Also admirable is his fervent sense of ambition and refusal to rest on his laurels, always in search of betterment with a detective inquisitiveness. ‘I’m currently exploring new techniques and materials that I’ve always wanted to incorporate into my work. They give the pieces of the upcoming collection an unfamiliar touch.’ Unfamiliar has been the hallmark of Jabotian’s work yet he believes that there is much more to discover in fashion and outside. ‘I would like to explore the many different dimensions of my work from pret-a-porter to maybe showcasing on a runway. We’ve grown a fair amount, yet there’s still way more to go.’
Where did you study?
Famous brands you’ve worked with?
Designing for how many years?
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12 month plan?
Who’s the next ‘one-to-watch’?
Check out Starch for a full list
Photography: Karen & Jossette