by LUKE LEITCH
“It’s about dancing—the disco, the seventies! I lived through those years and remember my parents then. I think I took a lot from that decade through them,” Elie Saab said, as he loosely twined a thick golden ribbon around Mayowa Nicholas’s neck backstage. Saab turned 15 in 1979. And in this collection he did, indeed, process many of the tropes of that decade—and then Saab-ified them, hard.
There was a riot of stars, of the Pinball Wizard-meets-Evel Knievel variety. (Incidentally, star-patterned pieces sell very well in Asian markets.) They appeared on multicolored fit-and-flare minidresses, which were worn under swoosh cloak jackets; as lace inserts on multi-ruffled black silk minidresses; or inlaid against stripes in paillette-heavy, gridded evening gowns. One can easily imagine Bianca Jagger cutting a rug in one such gown inside Studio 54.
Deeply Halston-esque silk gowns in rainbow stripes or primary colors made a few cameos. There were also pleated skirts and necklines that plunged as low as Nixon’s post-Watergate approval ratings. The ’80s leg-of-mutton box was dutifully ticked. One model struggled to reconcile a bell-bottom with heels that must have been at least four inches high. Saab contemporized his output a little by teaming some full-tilt sequined gowns with matching sequined baseball caps—and some starry ones too. And the black bomber jackets with split arms and golden ringlet details were sleekly pratique.
This was as glitzy, fun, and light as a night spent busting boozy moves to the tunes from way back when. There were perhaps 600 or so clients in the audience—many of them dressed in full Saab eveningwear at 3 p.m. on a Saturday in the Tuileries. They were absolutely loving the dry ice, the glittered runway, and Gigi and Karlie and company strutting to “Relight My Fire.” Saab is staying alive extremely effectively.