paris fashion week: elie saab

(images via style)

so before we go into the discussion mode on the subject of the elie saab f/w 2013 paris fashion week collection before us, i’d like to address a few programming particulars. first, i apologize for dropping off the face of the internet in this last little turn of the major fashion shows–it was due to some unavoidable health issues, and second, as we wrap up some of these shows, i’ll also be hoping to turn things over into the new, lesser well-known global events that this site specializes in, with the time to actually do it (methinks) without the backlog of so many long-over shows. so. yay?

and so, considering all of that, i’d like to now draw your attention to the designer’s fall offering, which, although we haven’t been following his ready-to-wear so long as his couture work, has seemed to me (see s/s 2012, f/w 2012, s/s 2013, pre-fall 2013) to be a lot more about the day looks and more workwear-friendly-style options than just the evening gowns of his couture atelier, which i’d argue, whatever anyone might wish to say to the contrary is a rather smart move.

anyway, as i believe i’ve been saying more and more of late with regards to his haute couture shows (see f/w 2010, f/w 2011, s/s 2012, f/w 2012, s/s 2013), although i once dismissed mr. saab as the creator of pretty, yet mindless frippery, he has been beginning to grow on me in recent seasons–provided one doesn’t read too far into anything he’s presenting. instead, if we merely view it as a marvel of construction and old-world fashion design technique, we can thus appreciate the clothes on a technical as well as a visual level, if not necessarily for their heady intellectual draw.

and so, that’s kind of how i chose to approach the fall rtw range, although i’ll certainly admit that it always tends to feel like a bit of a step-down after viewing his couture work. but surprisingly, some of the critics came alive, like the fashion spot declaring that he “reined in the sparkle to deliver some of the season’s best red carpet looks and — surprsingly [sic]— best daywear. Done, with the exception of some yellow pieces, in a dark monochrome palette, stand-outs included draped fitted tops, pencil skirts paired with paneled cropped jackets, a cocktail dress with a full skirt and trim trousers. For eveningwear, the designer was at his best when he used sheer fabrics as his base for embellished looks, opening up his collection to a whole new, more youthful demographic.”

anyway, elsewhere, style‘s review seemed to be in much the same vein as my personal take, as they practically straightaway noted that the designer has “got his formula and he sticks to it. Strictly Decorative, he called the show, but that applied mostly to his daywear, which had a somewhat regimental feel in navy and black. There was sleek tailoring in crepe satin, and a few take-no-prisoners sheaths with waist-accentuating peplums topped by fitted jackets. A sweeter pinafore dress with a full skirt looked out of place among all that rigor.”

“For evening,” they continued, “Saab softened things up, adding colors like teal blue, violet, and chartreuse yellow to his lineup of white and black, and, as is his custom, laying on the sequins and beads. Picking up where his couture collection left off, he experimented with sheer tulle insets and peekaboo laces, which meant that while the silhouettes were modest, the results were still quite suggestive. Among the finer pieces was a demure cocktail dress in black lace with varying degrees of transparency, and a full-skirted black gown with an embroidered lace bodice and sleeves.”

meanwhile, in a much harsher (as she tends to want full-on art. to challenge us. at all times) vein, the iht‘s suzy menkes commented that mr. saab “gave his version of fashion sobriety, which was to cover the skin but focus on the bosoms — by rounding the bodice or even by putting a patch of decorative fabric in the two crucial spots. All that — the long-sleeved day dresses and even a streamlined jump suit — was a prelude to lace, Mr. Saab’s favorite. The designer cuts and places perfectly these decorative pieces, but something else is happening in fashion now rather than just making pretty dresses.”

then, according to kenton magazine, “(t)he chicest of pantsuits were shown in a deep navy with silk, fur, and sheer panels evoking a sophisticated and feminine silhouette. Day dresses continued this theme with fitted waists and flared skirts being the dominate features, while pencil skirts paired with sporty sweaters demonstrated Elie Saab’s take on a more downtown-cool look. Evening gowns were, of course, embellished and detailed to perfection with a few edgier pieces showing with full sheer skirts.”

“Hollywood’s avatar of eveningwear Elie Saab sent out an autumnal lineup that continued to put the accent on his growing daywear business,” related fashion week daily. “Saab freshened up his repertoire with a pair of black trousers topped with a fur capelet, a casual-cool, floral sweater skirtsuit, and a bevy of smart day dresses hugging the knee or flaring at the waist. Still, there were plenty of after dark offerings from a noir gown intricately embroidered at the bodice with a chiffon skirt trailing behind to an all-over, floor sweeping beaded confection in teal.”

and vogue described how the designer “is always in the market for making women look beautiful – that’s simply what he does. ‘She’s always beautiful,’ he said…his plan of attack to do beautiful is in a ‘Russian way’. ‘It’s about the embroidery especially,’ he said, that and a ‘structure and style that is a contradiction, mixing the masculine and the feminine’. This is an idea that has especially captured the imagination of designers this season, but here it was more about sections of the collection – beginning with sharp and precise cropped tuxedo jackets, trousers with corsetted waists, jumpsuits and capes with severe slits to release the arms, before that femininity snuck in.”

“It did so via sheer layers to create caped sleeves and there were dirndl skirts on waisted dresses that stopped short at the knee to continue with that Russian theme – lace and beads and of course embroidery dancing at hems or encasing arms,” they continued. “We went back and forth a bit and switched between the two – androgyny and dreams – for zip slits on skirts of a graphic and utilitarian nature and then Saab’s signature shimmer – black and indigo and beaded purple gowns that call for grand occasions. We don’t necessarily all have them to go to but that’s when Saab’s daywear options step in. We know he can do red carpet glamour and he does but he’s continuing to broaden his horizons which is never a bad thing to do. ”

and finally, we heard from wwd, offering that “(e)legant, chic and ultrasexy are all words Elie Saab is well-versed in. While each could describe the numerous red-carpet-ready dresses with pretty embellishments that the designer showed for fall, it was his continued step up in daywear that was most noteworthy — this time with a pleasant mix focused on solid colors. Many such day dresses came sculpted to the body with a zipper down the back; others featured a structured bodice and a full skirt just above the knee. The silhouettes were quite sophisticated and are sure to please his loyal consumer set.”

(enjoy the full fashion show video here)

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