Elie Saab is no minimalist; you won’t find practical daywear options in his Couture collections. Today’s show was an unabashed ode to a world of opulence that lives in dreams and fantasies—or on red carpets.
The lengthy press notes provided a sort of narrative that referenced Mexico and its visual culture, particularly in the embroidered motifs lavished on almost every evening dress. The rather convoluted story went that a woman receives a letter summoning her to Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City; suspended between dream and reality, she wanders about the place, obviously clad in the magnificent couture concoctions in which, quoting the notes, “the regal past of both Europe and imperial Mexico are intertwined.”
Not being particularly acquainted with Mexican heraldry, I had no basis for an opinion about the more or less faithful rendition the designer gave of said imperial imagery. But that wasn’t the point. What stood out was the golden shimmer the collection seemed to be bathed in. The dresses looked as if immersed in an uninterrupted stream of curlicued embroideries, incrustations of florals and pearls, and intarsia-ed baroque swirls. With embellishments of an imperial magnitude, shapes seemed not to differ much from one another, overwhelmed by ruffles, swirls of rosettes, and bows. Silhouettes had fitted bodices and dramatic Elizabethan leg-of-mutton sleeves with trains and long capes adding to the majestic effect.
Providing respite from such opulent visual overload, a series of beautifully sculpted silk duchesse gowns in jewel tones of chartreuse, coral, and turquoise had the right mix of glamour and theatrical presence. They will surely be popular with the many clients in Saab’s front row.