The eponymous founder of the high-end Lebanese fashion house, Basil Soda, may have passed away far too early in 2015, aged just 47, but his legacy continues. With Basil’s widow Denise Soda and talented designer son, Jad, now at the helm, this is very much a family business.
“Basil wasn’t just my father – he was a legend, an idol and my best friend,” says Jad. He virtually grew up in his late father’s atelier, where he remembers playing under the tables as a young child.
Basil Soda established his Beirut-based design house in the year 2000, drawing on his background as an architecture graduate to inspire his avant-garde designs with architectural, fine-cut lines and what Jad calls a “purity of volume”. Basil’s couture creations quickly gained international recognition, and he launched his ready-to-wear line in 2010. This venture opened doors to new markets in the United States, Canada, Australia, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and Far Eastern countries including Taiwan and Singapore. A dedicated bridal line followed soon after.
Jad has a background in fine art and studied fashion at Central Saint Martins in London. Since he inherited his father’s design mantle, he has added his own ready-to-wear line, named Jad Soda, to the three existing lines. Targeting a younger demographic, this label features a variety of mix-and-match pieces, as well as more informal, light evening dresses designed to suit young women who are budget-conscious and on trend.
“Our work ethic places value on quality rather than on quantity,” says Jad. “The Basil Soda aesthetic is absolutely luxury and we produce beautiful, handmade clothes, which have a vintage feel but are also very modern. Our designs are characterized by our use of the Basil Soda signature colourful embroidery, which is known as ‘Cornelli’. We use only the most refined fabrics, such as silk organza, silk chiffon, crepes, Chantilly lace, satin, guipure lace, and always 24-carat gold-plated thread for our metal accessories. Everything that we make is environmentally friendly.”
Basil Soda is certainly a name to be seen in, worn by elite Lebanese socialites, diplomats and princesses from across the Middle East. Many international celebrities, including pop singer Katy Perry and actresses Emily Blunt, Marion Cotillard and Kate Beckinsale, have also chosen to don Basil Soda gowns on the red carpet.
Together with Basil Soda’s 50 staff, who are viewed not merely as employees but as part of the family, Jad – who has always been passionate about drawing – has recently been working on the label’s latest haute-couture collection, which was showcased in April 2019.
“We design for the woman who is fierce and edgy but who also wants to dress smartly and simply,” he says. “She is simultaneously strong and fragile, both romantic and dark. We have a dress for her to wear for every occasion, and we like our dresses to emphasize her womanly curves, particularly her waist.”
Jad has vowed to continue his father’s proud heritage and to keep his ideas alive. “We strive for perfectionism in both our designs and in customer service,” he says. “And Basil’s designs are so timeless that, almost two decades on, we are still selling from his first, now vintage, collections.”