Meet Cedric Haddad: designer to the stars working with international luxury labels
DUBAI: From the Valentino dress TV presenter Raya Abirached wore to the BAFTA Awards in London in March, to singer Balquees Fathi’s on-stage styling and actress Mona Zaki’s outfits in Cannes, Dubai-based Lebanese designer Cedric Haddad has created stunning looks for some of the Arab world. the most famous names.
His outstanding portfolio also includes styling for MBC shows such as “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 shops and I’d be the happiest kid.”
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 who are regulars at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Cana is always magical and a whole experience in itself,” he says. “Last time I was chosen by L’Oreal to dress their ambassadors and I’ve also dressed many celebrities for 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 personal style of the celebrity I’m working with. Achieving this balance can be difficult.”
And there is very little room for error. “The moment they get into the car, my heart starts beating. I have to make sure everything is right – the makeup, the hair, the jewelry, the accessories. I have to make sure they’re posing right and know how to show off their outfit because it’s all about how they look.”
His talent has attracted the attention of not only regional but also international style. Donatella Versace specifically asked to meet him in Dubai. “I worked a lot with Versace in the Middle East and one time, I got a call saying that Donatella Versace is in Dubai and would like to have dinner with you. We had one of the best dinners together, and this is a moment in my life that I will never forget. I have a great relationship with him and the brand.”
The nature of Hadad’s work means he can never really switch off. Despite having a dedicated team in various countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, he still makes the final call.
“It’s very challenging because I’m responsible for the image of the celebrity as a whole. One mistake, and it’s for me, not her. With my team, I can delegate some things to save time, but ultimately the celebrity wants the lead designer, which is me,” he says.
Add tight deadlines, hot tempers and last-minute bombshells, and it’s clear why Haddad’s job is a high-pressure one. He recalls an incident from his MBC styling days when a celebrity’s chain didn’t work.
“We had three minutes until we went live and there was no backup option. I took a thread and needle and started to sew the chain myself. I remember my fingers bleeding because I was trying to sew a metal chain!”
On another occasion, he contacted a pilot flying to Beirut from Paris to bring a dress for the final of The Voice Kids.
“The whole 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 cabin with him on the return flight,” 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 gain exposure. We have so many creators in the Arab world, and they really need this little push to get out there and someone to lead them. My co-host (Sarah Sofi) and I had such great chemistry, so it was a great experience,” he says.
Currently, Haddad has been 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 when the tournament starts. I’m styling the celebrity who will open the music video,” he says, without revealing who he is.
As 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 second.”