On a busy Saturday, amid torrential showers and bursts of icy blue skies, two very diverse talents – a Lebanese master, and a Frenchman of Chinese and Basque origin – staged two excellent shows, whose contrasts summed up how diverse great fashion can be in Paris.
Elie Saab: Andalusia meets Phoenicia
Andalusia met Phoenicia in the latest show from Elie Saab, in one of the boldest collections in many seasons by the Lebanese designer, as an injection of Spanish Gothic added some welcome spine to Saab’s DNA, a vibrant fashion pulse that also wiped a decade off his look.
Saab also added some crisp and snappy tailoring, opening with a quartet of trouser suits. First a striking black velvet power tuxedo, cut with a surgeon’s touch, and worn with a white silk stock, followed by some hyper-ladylike houndstooth double-breasted blazers.
Though the Iberian influence was clear in all the Spanish touches – seen in fabulously ruffled white flamenco shirts and sexy contessa gowns, cut away to show acres of leg. Saab also riffed on the inky black of El Greco and the austere shades of the Spanish Renaissance, with fantastic black lace shirts, tent dresses and high-waisted evening dresses.
“Nothing like a little touch of Spain,” smiled Elie after his show, the soundtrack of which featured extracts from Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias.
Saab always draws an ace crowd – from uber influencers like Olivia Palermo and Diala Makki to brainy media stars like Christiane Amanpour, along with his loyal following of Middle Eastern princesses, and Levantine it gals. All of whom gave him a rousing cheer as he took his bow inside the Palais de Tokyo, as sunlight suddenly broke through the heavens.
Altuzarra: Quiet elegance at its best
“Purity, refinement and silhouette. That’s what this was about,” commented Joseph Altuzarra, after a collection that delivered all that and more.
From flowing plissé cocktails to charming frocks slit up the thigh, all made in beautiful marbleized prints or faded flower patterns. Everything decidedly refined. For day and the office, razor sharp wool pantsuits with intriguing slashes and hyper-precision darting, all belted insouciantly.
Post show, Altuzarra explained that he was inspired by his grandmother, who emigrated from China in the 1940s and last year sent him a large suitcase of handmade clothes from her youth in her homeland.
“They came out creased and crumpled. And, they had a certain mystery, which I wanted to capture,” explained the designer, after being mobbed by his cast, who clearly loved the polish of the clothes.
All of them were done up with exquisitely exact chignons and lightly rouged, their feet clad in feathered high heels and slippers. Quiet elegance at its best.
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