Elie Saab loves to tell a good story and this season’s Indian tale was an adventure that celebrated the boundless romance and mystery of the ancient country. At the center of the story lies a Lilah Wingfield-esque explorer who visits India during the early 20th century and falls in love with the culture and clothes of it’s people. “India is her backdrop and her inspiration for a new blend of formalism and ease, opulence and elementary lines,” the show notes read. From there, came the first hints that this collection would mark a change of pace from what we’ve come to expect from Mr. Saab.
This change was felt from the very first look- a hybrid gown that fused elements from the Victorian and Edwardian eras of dress, but from there the transformations heightened as Indian influences came more strongly into play. In general, the collection was a collage of the restraint and exuberance of period British and Indian dress… with a couple Maison Saab tweaks thrown in to bridge the gaps. This meant that an array of sparkling minidresses, diaphanous shifts, embellished tunics, trouser- based looks and full evening gowns appeared on the catwalk in quick succession.
There were a few hybrid looks included in the lineup, notably a ballgown topped with a button-front shirt, a high- necked sheaf dress with a beaded caplet and trailing fringe, and a loose embellished jacket with flowing split sleeves worn over loose trousers with an attached train. These proved a refreshing change from a show that was otherwise an array of gorgeously glittering gowns and dresses, and brought the collection up to speed with current trends. These unique creations wouldn’t be out of place on at any formal but fashionable event.
It’s maybe not the most innovative show on the Haute Couture runways, but Mr. Saab doesn’t really have to be that avant- garde- he knows that he’s the best at creating gorgeous pieces and he sticks with that look. It’s what his customers want and expect, and he knows just what to deliver each season. Still, it is nice to see him branching out and trying to incorporate current trends and a little grittiness into his shows. Especially as his trials are seen through the Saab spectrum and are thus incredibly luxurious and beautifully adorned.
The Indian inspirations showed up everywhere. The body-skimming lines of Mr. Saab’s trademark gowns and cocktail dresses were often broken up by draped over-the-shoulder swags of fabric that mimicked the movement of saris, instantly adding exotic interest to already beautiful pieces. From there he unleashed an array of new pieces, most of which have never before been seen on an Elie Saab runway. Silky trousers, breezy dusters, spangled tunics, khaftans and layered shalwar- kameez ensembles appeared alongside deconstructed jackets, crystallized camisoles and even some jeweled trousers that were entirely rock-star ready.
There was a hint of militarism in the trim cropped jackets with Nehru collars, slouchy slacks, bejewelled caps (fabulous), and the array of metallic leather lace-up combat boots, heavy strap sandals, mini backpacks, and sturdy belt bags that were seen throughout the collection. Aesthetically, these items probably weren’t the best choice for this show since they distracted from the garments, but they’re cool nonetheless.
This being an Indian- themed collection, the adornment was even more exceptional than it typically is; almost every inch of fabric was vibrantly adorned in intricate sparkling crystals, beads, sequins and metallic embroidery. This was lovely, and exemplified Mr. Saab’s knack for enrobing the body with dense, but delicate ornamentation. Just gorgeous!
Elie Saab’s 2016 Haute Couture show was exceptionally well done. It’s a match straight out of couture Heaven: Ellie Saab’s extravagant aesthetic meeting the flowing silhouettes, ornate construction and elaborate embellishments that are typical of traditional Indian dress. However there were a few stumbles along the way, namely the overly- rugged boots and accessories, and two gowns done in a watery tie- dyed print that seemed a little out of place with the rich colour palette of pale blue, mauve, blush, cream and antique silver. They’re beautiful, but stuck out a little oddly.
Stumbles aside, it was a lovely show and an exceptional outing for Mr. Saab. It’s one of his most beautiful collections to date and I’m thoroughly impressed (and in love).
Xx – Ana