Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Elie Saab delivers a beautiful collection but falls short on the styling

Saab gets trapped in clumsy references during safari-themed spring / summer 2020 show

We all love Elie Saab. Almost a superhero in this region, Saab has a reputation for creating opulent, grand evening gowns that are beautifully constructed and perfect for elegant soirees.

Over two decades of hard graft have gone into forging his house, which delivers both haute couture and ready-to-wear, a feat few other designers can match.

Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection
Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection

The spring / summer 2020 Elie Saab show unveiled yesterday in Paris was delightful. Saab and his team created an array of looks that were light, sassy and fabulous.

His most devoted clients will adore the final 12 or so looks, made of gowns that rippled with heavy beading, while the previous 35 looks (give or take) were light, fluid and filled with joy.

There were floor-length shirt dresses fronted with broderie anglaise and safari suits made with lace jackets, while more lace appeared via daisy-strewn maxi dresses and bell sleeved mini dresses. Neat, fitted dresses came edged with metal eyelets, as did a loose flowing all-in-one and abaya that moved perfectly.

Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection
Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection

With the safari theme, however, came a metaphorical elephant in the room. The same laser cut dress that opened the show was topped with a clumsy afro wig, as was a lovely patterned belted jacket and shorts. Another afro appeared with a mustard-y caped sleeve kaftan, and yet another with a russet plunge front dress. Even a slinky peach jumpsuit had one. It felt like a clumsy, unnecessary piece of caricature.

Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection
Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection

The show notes spoke of the "great savannas of Africa”, and “African bead necklaces” which, while sounding lovely, belied the fact that Africa is a continent of 54 separate countries.

Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection
Elie Saab spring summer 2020 collection

Saab captured the colours of the safari, with shifting blues, greens and browns that spoke of open skies, abundant plants and the humble earth from which we all derive. The clothes were light and filled with movement, while the outline swayed and grew, progressing in an entirely natural manner. Perhaps the same thinking could have been applied to the styling.

Updated: September 30, 2019 06:53 PM

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