Life Style

Life Style: Meet Cedric Haddad: The stylist to the stars working with luxury labels Valentino and Versace

DUBAI: From the Valentino dress that Raya Abirached wore to the BAFTA awards in March to Balquees Fathi’s onstage style and Mona Zaki’s Cannes outfits, Dubai-based Lebanese stylist Cedric Haddad has created showstopping looks for some of the Arab world’s most famous names.

His remarkable portfolio also includes styling for MBC shows like “The Voice Kids” and “Arabs Got Talent,” conducting styling sessions for luxury labels including 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 looking at mannequins.

“It was like heaven for me,” he tells Arab News. “You could just put me in the stores, and I’d be the happiest kid.”

Styling was a hobby which 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 up everything for me,” he says.

Haddad has gone on to become one of only a handful of stylists from the Middle East to be regulars at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Cannes is always magical and a whole experience by itself,” he says. “Last time I was selected by L’Oreal to dress their ambassadors, and I’ve also dressed many celebrities for the Chopard parties.”

Being behind the scenes at Cannes may sound glamorous, but, Haddad says, “It’s not ‘La Vie en Rose’ at all. I always want to create something new while respecting the identity and the personal style of the celebrity I’m working with. Striking that balance can be hard.”

And there’s very little room for error. “The moment they get into the car, my heart starts to pound. I have to ensure everything is good – makeup, hair, jewelry, accessories. I need to make sure they’re posing properly and know how to show their outfit correctly because it’s all about their look.”

His talent has captured the attention of the style set not just regionally but internationally too. Donatella Versace specifically asked to meet with him in Dubai. “I’ve worked a lot with Versace in the Middle East, and one time, I received a call saying Donatella Versace is in Dubai and would love to have dinner with you. We had one of the best dinners together, and it’s a moment in my life I will never forget. I have a great relationship with her and the brand.”

The nature of Haddad’s job means he can never really switch off. Despite having a dedicated team in different countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, it’s still him who makes the final call.

“It’s very challenging because I am responsible for the celebrity’s image in its entirety. One mistake, and it’s on me, not her. With my team, I can delegate a few things to save time, but ultimately the celebrity wants the main stylist, which is me,” he says.

Add in short timelines, flaring tempers, and last-minute bombshells and it’s obvious why Haddad’s is a high-pressure job. He recalls an incident from his MBC styling days when a celebrity’s zipper malfunctioned.

“We had three minutes till we went live, and there was no backup option. I got a thread and needle and started stitching the zipper myself. I remember my fingers were bleeding because I was trying to sew a metal zipper!”

On another occasion, he contacted a pilot flying into Beirut from Paris to bring in 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 back,” he says.

While most of his work takes place behind the scenes, Abu Dhabi TV’s “Beauty Challenge” brought Haddad in front of the lens.

“I was working with some amazing talent and was able to help them get exposure. We have so many creatives in the Arab world, and they really need this small 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 has been busy working on another major career milestone — this year’s FIFA World Cup.

“They are producing three music videos for the official FIFA song, which will be out when the tournament starts. I am styling the celebrity who will be opening the music video,” he says, without revealing who that is.

Hectic as his demanding career is, with multiple projects always on the go, Haddad is filled with gratitude.

“The happiest moment of your life is when you realize that your passion and hobby became your career,” he says. “You’re just waking up and enjoying every single second.”

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