Self-taught designer and the Middle East’s greatest fashion export Elie Saab celebrated his 50th birthday on July 4.

The Lebanese fashion designer  is renowned for his exquisite couture gowns and stunning dresses that are adored by Hollywood starlets.

Elie’s passion for fashion started when he was a young child, cutting patterns out of newspapers and raiding his mother’s closet for materials. His skill was so exquisite that it was hardly surprising that he launched his Beirut-based couture house, specialising in bridal gowns, at just 18.

He was rapidly gained recognition among the Lebanese style elite with regional fame soon following. After 21 years in the game Elie became the first non-Italian designer to be awarded fashion’s highest honour – an induction into the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

What really helped put Elie on the sartorial map was when Oscar winner Halle Berry wore his alluring, mermaid-shaped, burgundy number to the 2002 Academy awards. The brand exposure was colossal, making him an overnight success, and his designs have graced the red carpets ever since.

In 2011 Elie launched his first fragrance Le Parfum, which became a bestseller in 15 countries in the UAE. Elie has also dabbled in industrial design and has a diffusion wedding dress line, which is marketed through the Spanish bridal wear giant Pronovias. However, couture remains his priority, and a priority that is underwritten by a loyal Arab clientele.

To celebrate the big 5.0, here are five things you didn’t know about Elie, and some of our all-time-favourite Elie Saab designs.

  1. Elie started designing clothes for his sister at the young age of 9.
  2. He hasn’t studied fashion at any school
  3. Elie has three sons with wife Claudine.
  4. In 1999, Queen Rania of Jordan wore Elie Saab for her enthronement.
  5. In 2010, Elie dressed 102 international celebrities for key global events.