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Meet Cédric Haddad: the stylist to the stars working with international luxury brands
DUBAI: From the Valentino dress Raya Abirached wore to the BAFTA Awards in March to Balquees Fathi’s on-stage styling and Mona Zaki’s Cannes outfits, Dubai-based Lebanese designer Cedric Haddad has created stunning looks for some of the most famous names of the Arab world.
His remarkable portfolio also includes styling for MBC shows such as “The Voice Kids” and “Arabs Got Talent”, conducting styling sessions for luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Valentino, and teaching at the FAD Institute. .
Haddad’s fascination with fashion began early – as a child he would often spend hours at the mall staring at models.
“It was like heaven for me,” he told Arab News. “You could just put me in the shops, and I’d be the happiest kid around.”
Styling was a hobby that turned into a full-time career for Haddad. Things really took off when he was asked to style TV presenter Hilda Khalife. “I say she’s my lucky charm – she opened everything up for me,” he says.
Haddad has become one of the few designers from the Middle East to be regulars at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Cannes is always magical and an experience in its own right,” he says. “Last time, I was selected by L’Oréal to dress their ambassadors, and I also dressed many celebrities for Chopard parties.”
Being backstage at Cannes may seem glamorous, but, says Haddad, “it’s not ‘La Vie en Rose’ at all. I always want to create something new while respecting the identity and personal style of the celebrity I’m working with. Finding that balance can be difficult.
And there is very little room for error. “The moment they get in the car, my heart starts beating. I have to make sure everything is fine – makeup, hairstyle, jewelry, accessories. I have to make sure they pose correctly and know how to show their outfit correctly, because it all depends on their look.
His talent captured the attention of the established style not only regionally but also internationally. Donatella Versace expressly requested to meet him in Dubai. “I’ve worked a lot with Versace in the Middle East, and once I got a call that Donatella Versace is in Dubai and would like to have dinner with you. We had one of the best dinners together, and that is a moment in my life that I will never forget. I have a great relationship with her and the brand.
The nature of Haddad’s work means he can never truly die out. Despite having a dedicated team in different countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, he is still the one who makes the final decision.
“It is very difficult because I am responsible for the image of the celebrity in its entirety. One mistake, and it’s on me, not her. With my team, I can delegate some things to save time, but eventually fame wants the main stylist, which is me,” he says.
Add in tight deadlines, flamboyant tempers and last-minute bombshells and it’s obvious that Haddad is a high-pressure job. He recalls an incident from his MBC style days when a celebrity’s zipper malfunctioned.
“We had three minutes before it went live, and there was no save option. I took a thread and a needle and started sewing the zipper myself. I remember that my fingers were bleeding because I was trying to sew a metal zipper!
On another occasion, he contacted a pilot flying to Beirut from Paris to bring a dress for the finale of “The Voice Kids”.
“The entire Arab world was watching this episode! The dress was in Paris, and I told the pilot he had to bring it somehow. He actually hung it in the cockpit with him on the flight home,” he says.
While most of her work takes place behind the scenes, Abu Dhabi TV’s “Beauty Challenge” brought Haddad in front of the camera.
“I was working with some amazing talent and was able to help them get noticed. We have so many creative people in the Arab world, and they really need that little push to get out there and someone to guide them My co-host (Sarah Sofi) and I had such great chemistry, so it was a wonderful experience,” he says.
Currently, Haddad is busy working on another major milestone in his career – this year’s FIFA World Cup.
“They are producing three music videos for the official FIFA song, which will be released at the start of the tournament. I’m styling the celebrity who will open the music video,” he says, without revealing who it is.
As hectic as his demanding career has been, with multiple projects still in the works, Haddad is filled with gratitude.
“The happiest moment of your life is when you realize that your passion and your hobby have become your career,” he says. “You just wake up and enjoy every second.”