by LUKE LEITCH
These are culturally sensitive times, and those sensitivities are culturally relative. This afternoon, Elie Saab put out a typically va-va-voom collection that his press release described as “a reflection on the diversity than animates the great savannas of Africa.” As a white English male, I’ve got so much privilege I have to check in excess at the gate when approaching such issues as a Lebanese designer dedicating a collection to a very broad-brush interpretation of the African continent. Is “expedition chic” or “safari chic” featuring “African bead necklaces and bracelets” okay today? The answer depends on where you come from.
What can be reported rather than rhetoricized is that Saab’s sure hand when it comes to delivering powerful evening gowns in jersey, cady, taffeta, and lace remained steady this afternoon. There were strong, (relatively) simple dresses cut in tulle strafed with long lines of sequins and cute daisy brocade daywear worn by a (relatively) diverse casting. There were also epauletted and billows-pocketed swooshy daywear looks in desert tones, blown up abstracted Dutch prints, and adapted Nefertiti-style headpieces. Even when soundtracked by Nina Simone’s wonderful “Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter,” in the sensitive times mentioned at the top, it was hard to entirely succumb to the sometimes beautiful collection Saab presented this afternoon.