by LUKE LEITCH
Next week, Elie Saab opens a New York store on 70th and Madison. Last week, he contributed to what many thought would be the moment of the night—at least right up until the last moment—at the Oscars, thanks to Janelle Monáe’s awesome dress decision. Plus, he dressed Meryl, too.
Sandwiched between these events came a show relocated to the Grand Palais from a tent in the Tuileries, with a vastly pared-back capacity. After several seasons in which the designer has accented his signature after-dark arsenal of eveningwear with hints of something street-ier and sportier, this was an exercise in Total Saab: “dark, romantic stuff,” as he put it.
The collection was inspired by Giselle and did indeed contain many looks highly suitable for dancing and entrancing errant males to their doubtlessly richly deserved demise. Layers of tulle and ruffle were heaped to whirl dervish-ly around their wearers as they walked. Marabou danced down necklines. Lily-etched lace bled into lily-embroidered velvets. A one-armed opera cloak swooshed above a lily-print chiffon skirt with velvet detail on the bodice. Full tulle skirts patterned with polka dots were worn below bikers etched in gold-studded lily silhouettes. There were some non-dresses here, including a fitted black pant-and-jacket, whose outlines were traced by stitches of thick silk ribbon, but they were asides rather than points of focus.
“I wanted something rich,” said Saab. “Maybe it’s less commercial than before and more dramatic.” Hmm. This observer suspects that Saab’s darker flourish will, on the contrary, prove dramatically powerful on a commercial level—because who wouldn’t want to dress like a supernaturally captivating romantic heroine?