Plenty of A-listers may have plumped for Lebanese labels at this week’s Golden Globes, but celebrities have been turning to designers from this part of the world for more than just awards season.

In fact, Middle Eastern designers have dominated red carpets over the last 12 months, with Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Reem Acra – to name just a few – dressing actresses galore.

From fairytale ballgowns to sleek and shimmery numbers, Arab labels have provided some of the last year’s most stand-out sartorial moments… so we decided to look back through the months to cherrypick our highlights.

Here are our 16 favourite fashion moments from regional designers in 2016 (and believe us when we say it took a lot of time to whittle these down).

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1. Rachel McAdams in Elie Saab

rachel mcadams

The Spotlight actress chose a sheer yet sparkly sheath from the King of Couture for the Critics’ Choice Awards. The plummy hue feels wintry and vampy while the tousled bob and pinkier lip stop things from feeling too overbaked. It’s sultrier than McAdams’ usual awards-show gowns (and we’re not complaining, she looks incredible) but the contrasting chain straps and slim belt add a fresh, “just threw this on” vibe.

2. Chrissy Teigen in Yousef Al-Jasmi

chrissy teigen

We will always adore a full-length cape (hey, even Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr Strange looks pretty refined in his enchanted number), but the model’s might be one of the best we’ve ever seen. The ethereal, pearl-encrusted back creates an otherworldly effect that plays masterfully against the minimalistic column dress, and the pared-back makeup and accessories rightfully let this number take centre stage.

3. Malin Akerman in Reem Acra

Malin Akerman

An asymmetric hemline was an inspired way to revitalise the peplum trend, and it perfectly balances out the gentle fishtail of the Swedish actress’ gown.

4. Lupita Nyong’o in Elie Saab

lupita nyong'o

We’re used to Saab dresses featuring a lot of featherlight fabrics and smatterings of sequins, so this vibrant lavender gown with sporty, striped straps is a real departure from the norm – and one that’s definitely paid off. The colour palette couldn’t suit the 12 Years A Slave superstar any better, the playful silhouette adds plenty of interest, and the headwrap is quite literally the crowning glory of the whole look.

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5. Nieves Alvarez in Georges Chakra

Nieves Alvarez

Girl’s on fire, in every way possible (well, nearly every way – clearly not literally).

6. Jenna Dewan-Tatum in Zuhair Murad

jenna dewan tatum

The dancer-turned-actress proves why we need to see more navy on the red carpet in this sequin-scalloped showstopper. We’re particularly crushing over the way the 21st-century neckline is playing off the ’50s-style full skirt.

7. Julianne Hough in Georges Hobeika

julianne hough

The dancer amped up the drama in this theatrical, botanically-embellished gown that feels full of flamenco passion. The slicked-back bun and red lippie make on-point additions.

8. Lucy Liu in Zuhair Murad

lucy liu

The Charlie’s Angel star doesn’t grace as many a red carpet nowadays as she used to – but we’re unlikely to forget her anytime soon after this sherbet-lemon halterneck. The delicate chiffon creates the most gorgeous silhouette when in motion (well, and even just stood still), while the often-underused hue makes a really refreshing change from the awards-show regulars. The Marilyn-Monroe-inspired neckline is the pinnacle of the whole look, while the embellishments add just enough Hollywood gam without stealing the lime (or should that be lemon?) light.

9. Camila Alves in Georges Hobeika

camila alves

Finally, the kind of red-carpet dress we know we’d feel good in, when it both comes to confidence and comfort (the last is especially crucial to us – how these celebrities spend hours strapped into boned bodices we’ll never know). The voluminous curls add to the relaxed, approachable feel.

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10. Elle Fanning in Elie Saab

elle fanning

Draped in a silvery spider’s web might not sound like the dream dress on paper, but the Maleficent star proves otherwise in this intricate, gossamer-thin gown that feels almost like a piece of art.

11. Kristen Bell in Zuhair Murad

kristen bell

The Veronica Mars actress demonstrates that beige is anything but boring in this latte-hued, artfully embroidered gown.

12. Ziyi Zhang in Elie Saab

Ziyi Zhang

Those bordering-on-batwing sleeves + the nipped-in waist = a silhouette made in heaven (and the rich, velvety Art Deco-meets-stained-glass print takes the whole dress from an A to an A+).

13. Zendaya in Rani Zakhem


So the print kind of looks like a child’s paintbox, but we think that makes this sheeny two-piece all the more endearing. The hint of lining stops the whole effect looking too busy, and the relaxed hair and makeup pair well (although the true highlight of this number might be the actress’ brows, a photo of which we’ll be taking to our next threading appointment).

14. Diane Kruger in Elie Saab

diane kruger

The German model-turned-actress is wearing her heart on her sleeve, and skirt, and bodice in this amorously embellished gown… and we think we’re in love.

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15. Jane Fonda in Zuhair Murad

jane fonda

There’s no age limit on great style (just like there’s no limit on our affections for the actress and fitness guru).

16. Kristen Bell in Georges Chakra

kristen bell

It might be mini, but this dress has maximum effect thanks to that strokeable appliqué, structured bell-shaped skirt, and sheer sporty-luxe neckline.

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Images: Getty