Lebanese couture client Mouna Ayoub, is still said to have one of the largest collections of haute couture in private hands today. Numbering in the thousands, it was acquired over a 30 year period and boasts examples by some of Paris’ most storied fashion houses. What makes Ayoub’s collection unique from a curatorial perspective is her ability to pick the most iconic looks from a couturier’s collection, as well as the fact that she rarely altered the original design (a rarity amongst clients).
Recently Ayoub’s name has resurfaced in a series of high-profile fashion exhibitions. It began last summer with a retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent’s work in Paris. On display, in a section devoted to the couturier’s most loyal clients, was an iconic one-shouldered evening gown, fastened on one side by two pink satin bows. Ayoub purchased the piece from the designer’s spring 1991 couture collection.Saint Laurent has long enjoyed a following amongst the Middle East’s best dressed women; amongst them couture connoisseurs Farah Diba, Princess Firyal of Jordan and Princess Haifa Al Faysal of Saudi Arabia. Until he shuttered his couture business in 2002, the designer dressed three generations of women from the region, including mothers, daughters and granddaughters. Despite this, Ayoub is still considered couture’s most visible Middle Eastern patron.