Elie Saab called Wednesday’s Haute Couture collection The Promise of Spring, and on his promise the Lebanese designer certainly delivered. Nearly fifty evening looks were presented, each one a confection of silk mousseline, lacy tulle or slinky jersey, embellished in the signature Saab style of masterful embroidery and shimmering beadwork. Yet the heaviness that sometimes accompanies Saab’s Haute Couture ornamentation seems to have evaporated, and this season the audience received a collection that whispered of lightness and femininity.
While the success of this collection relies partly on its welcome airiness, it was Elie Saab’s color palette of garden hues that helped to infuse a fresh energy into his designs and the runway presentation itself. Artfully sent out in what could be described as a rainbow of watercolor hues, the gowns were presented in sequential colors Saab named after flowers, beginning with the universally flattering rose poudrée (powdered rose). The palette then lightened to soft white before beginning its increase in intensity – first to the aptly-named poppy red, then on to daffodil yellow and a variety of blues and purples that recall cloudless skies, hyacinths and all things springtime.
Darker shades began to appear towards the end of the show, notably in a voluminous black-to-white ombré ballgown that inspired a round of applause from Saab’s evidently pleased public. A series of blackest black, jet-beaded dresses preceded the show’s finale: a grand wedding gown of blush organza embroidered with – what else but? – flowers.
This collection – and its certain success beyond the ballrooms of Beirut and Hollywood’s red carpets – affirms the notion that some women still dream of dressing in a way that recalls the designs of a pre-retirement Valentino. Of timeless, glamorous and hyper-feminine eveningwear Elie Saab is the new master. And although “princess” is a word that might make most trendsetters cringe, what other term could possibly describe the way it must feel to wear Haute Couture of this caliber?