Beyoncé surprised no one by wearing a custom bejeweled Tom Ford leotard during her whirlwind 15-minute performance at last night's MTV Video Music Awards. However, the gown she chose for the red carpet was pretty unexpected: It was a black floor-length dress from Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran's fall 2014 collection. Even more unexpected: Iggy Azalea also wore a Nicolas Jebran gown last night.
So, who is this guy? Jebran is based in Lebanon, where he designs his namesake ready-to-wear and "haute couture" lines, which are very gown-heavy. And he's not the only notable designer coming out of Lebanon these days: Rabih Kayrouz, Georges Chakra, Georges Hobeika, Zuhair Murad, Reem Acra and Elie Saab, all known for creating red carpet-ready dresses, are also from the region. Charbel Zoe, who designed the mind-blowing, "Showgirls"-esque dress Jennifer Lopez wore Sunday night, is Lebanese as well. According to Vanessa Friedman, Lebanese designers are having a moment.
Jebran's been dressing international celebrities for a while, and Western stars are wearing his designs more recently. Katy Perry performed at the 2014 Brit Awards in a colorful bodysuit he designed and he dressed Kylie Jenner in a sparkly orange confection for this year's MuchMusic Awards.
His designs are attention-grabbing, unusual and risqué, qualities many celebrities seem to look for in awards show garb. Given Lebran's relative obscurity (so far at least), one doesn't run the risk of showing up in the same dress as another star when choosing one of his pieces, or wearing something that's instantly recognizable as a certain designer. A nod from Beyoncé could put this guy on the map, alongside his fellow Lebanese contemporaries, so keep a lookout.