As the head buyer of Lebanese luxury retail behemoth Aïshti, Elham Salamé is the living incarnation of the firm’s image. “Many clients call to ask where they can buy my dresses or any piece of my outfit,” she confesses. It’s fortunate for the company’s top line, then, that Elham admits to shopping “almost every day”, thus generating near constant sales opportunities.
Describing her style as “bold”, Elham says, “I like very open, very sexy dresses,” revealing, “I never wear a bra.” The mother-of-four recently garnered international praise for the catwalk Valentino dress she wore to the opening of the Aïshti Foundation in Beirut. The Foundation’s spectacular collection of international contemporary art has added another element of richness to the Lebanese capital’s already vibrant cultural landscape. A leading light of Beirut society, Elham can often be found dining at Art People, Chez Sami, Burgundy and Casablanca, and when not frequenting one of the many Aïshti group stores, she lends her patronage to concept boutique Orient 499.
As with the family art collection, many of Elham’s most treasured items were bought at auction, including a bracelet from Buccellati’s Opera collection, a necklace and bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels and a snake necklace by Cartier. She doesn’t hold stock in hoarding ready-to-wear, explaining, “I don’t treasure items, I find it superficial.” However, limited edition pieces by the likes of Gucci, Pucci, Missoni and Saint Laurent are preserved for her beloved daughter Tasha – the only girl in a family of three sons. “For me, family comes first,” Elham smiles, “I am a loving person as I grew up in a loving family,
I believe in true values.”
This season, Elham plans on adding a yellow lace dress by Gucci, a beaded African dress by Valentino, a Fendi baguette bag and a Buccellati ring to her collection. Her multifaceted fashion tastes are reflected in her multi-layered persona. “Everybody thinks I am carefree. Actually, I don’t show it but I am very anxious,” she reveals, adding with a smile, “Although I always have a positive attitude.”
Photography: Richard Hall. Styling: Charlotte Blair. Words: Louise Nichol. Location: Aïshti Foundation, Beirut