Suits were in fact some of her earliest fashion purchases. “When I was young, I was a tomboy, but my mother was very fond of suits,” Ayoub recalls. “She had a seamstress in Beirut and she used to buy fabric and together they would create the most fabulous suits; so I grew up thinking that suits were the thing to wear, and I couldn’t imagine myself wearing a dress because I was a tomboy. That’s why when I started ordering [couture], I started with suits.” Her introduction to couture was a “simple white suit” from Jean-Louis Scherrer that she wore at her wedding.
“When I came into the scene, which was in the ’80s, there was a lot of talk that haute couture was dying, so I kind of panicked and said ‘that cannot be!’” Ayoub remembers. “I started making my own crusade for haute couture, and sometimes I would buy a whole collection just because I loved it, but also because I saw there was a lot of work put into it, a lot of creation.”
As such, many of the pieces in the auction have never been worn and have spent the last 30 years in museum-quality storage. Ayoub’s decision to sell her collection is two-fold. First and most importantly, part of the proceeds from the sale will go to the Fondation des Femmes, an organization that raises money to fight for women’s rights issues and for young victims of domestic violence in France. The second reason is to make space in her closet for new acquisitions.
“I am selling because most of those pieces don’t fit me anymore. I’ve set aside all the pieces from when I was in my 20s, 30s, and 40s and I’ve kept everything [I bought] from when I was in my 50s until now—and I am 66 years old,” she says. “Because I have kept them for so long without having the chance to wear most of them—I was married then and I wasn’t allowed to wear short dresses, or dresses with no sleeves and things like that—they’re still brand new and it’s about time for somebody else to enjoy and wear them.”