Elie Saab knows who his clients are. Hollywood starlets and Middle Eastern aristocracy simply adore the Lebanese designer, and he knows how to keep them happy while working his credibility in the hyper critical Parisian fashion scene. Showing a collection brimming with pink ostrich feathers, Swarovski crystals and beaded transparencies to an audience composed of black-loving French critics is no easy feat, but on Wednesday evening Saab emerged from his show triumphant, and he did it by taking us through an imaginary trip through time and space.
He got his inspiration from sixties Beirut (what he calls ‘the golden years’) and the dresses his own mother wore in old pictures to create a collection at the crossroads between East and West. Guests were welcomed at an Alhambra-like garden created for the occasion at the Théâtre de Chaillot to a soundtrack of wild birds singing before Fairuz’s voice started sounding and the first model made her way to the catwalk. Transparencies, embroideries (this season in the shape of lavish exotic flowers) and delicate silk chiffon dresses in a palette of cream, powder pink, lime green and grey blue were to be expected, but this time most of the dresses had pockets, and some of them were above-the-knee (the skirts and the sleeves, completely embroidered with feathers, had a Swinging Sixties diva feel to them) and paired with flat sandals, a first for Saab. Also a first were the transparent palazzo pants and jumpsuits, topped with ostrich-trimmed embroidered coats which (even if one wouldn’t have been surprised to find them among the designer’s mother’s family albums) felt definitely modern. He even ventured into multicoloured floral prints in the last few dresses, with ultra feminine, utterly whimsical results. Just a new way for Elie Saab to seduce his ever-growing fan base.