Elie Saab’s homage to Catalonia

Elie Saab, who hails from the Levantine port city of Beirut, went all the way across the Mediterranean for the inspiration for his latest couture show.


Elie Saab - Haute Couture - Fall/Winter 2018 - Paris - Photo: PixelFormula

 
Saab spent time in Barcelona – some 3,500 kilometers away from his hometown, and the Catalan capital’s special aesthetic – from Art Nouveau to Antoni Gaudí - rippled all the way across this Fall/ Winter collection.
 
Take the stand-out section in this show; a trilogy of studded and embroidered ball gowns that recalled the ceramic fantasy of Gaudí. Elie’s program notes referenced Casa Mila, though quite frankly we saw much more his celebrated Parque Güell.
 
Throughout he referenced curvilinear Gothic shapes, from the arches of the world’s most admired cathedral, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia; seen in the flowing trails of many gowns, or the exaggerated stand-up collars of his gazar and brocade cocktails dresses.
 
There was a tad too much ruffle-mania in this show for our taste, and it was telling that two of the most beautiful looks were the most restrained. Like the impeccably well cut, wrapped cocktail in flesh-colored chiffon that merited a one-minute slow motion video as an example to the untutored eye the purity and precision of draping in true couture, to the poetic part dresses finished with golden spider web embroidery.
 
It is somewhat ironic that Saab – essentially a creator of evening clothes – shows in Paris. For even though it is the world’s greatest fashion capital, it is not a city noted for selling masses of eveningwear. A tour of department stores in the Persian Gulf, or indeed in Harrods, would show that a good third of their floor space is devoted to evening. In the great Paris department stores of Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, it would be more like one tenth.
 
However, Saab’s clientele in couture is  global, and his following a loyal one, and his fans a rather beautiful gang. Like in his front row, where blogging giants Olivia Palermo and Helena Bordon sat beside French actress Clotilde Courau. 

Call this a homage to Catalonia.

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