Suzy Menkes reviews Elie Saab’s autumn/winter 2017 couture show
These were noble women, ones who took over the world in the designer’s imaginary ‘Tale of Fallen Kings’. The programme for this autumn/winter 2017 haute couture collection took a rich view of the mediaeval world with images of ancient forests, castles of legend and the ultimate rise of the warrior queens.
In fashion terms, these were the women who had not only rejected daywear, but also cocktail clothes, short skirts and the seductive looks of Saab’s earlier work. They made the collection look like Game of Thrones, taking the designer in a new direction.
The result was striking and delicately wrought, thanks to the handwork of the Beirut ateliers – and also a thoughtful and interesting route for Saab to take.
There is no doubt that long hemlines are in fashion, whether as pretty, floral summer dresses or even as increasingly covered-up red-carpet outfits. Saab’s graceful off-the-shoulder dresses and others revealing just the neckline above concealing sleeves seemed to offer a new vision of dressing up.
Saab – increasingly international with stores in London, Paris and New York – has roots in the Middle East, where covering up plays an important role.
Although there was no suggestion that the designer was thinking of ‘Modesty Dressing’, he hit a fashion nerve. The cover up looked enchanting in the form of graceful long sleeves, a satin bow at the neckline and a tough belt cinching a black chiffon dress with a magic wood of golden leaves as the skirt.
Even the colours – dark leaf-green or painterly splashes of flowers on a black skirt – seemed part of a new look. Let’s call the noble shapes and regal decoration a recognition that women everywhere are battle ready.
‘Where did this warrior concept come from?’ I asked Elie Saab later, at the launch of his new fragrance Girl of Now. He gave me a shrug. In a few hours, the Saab world had moved on: from the romantic past to a vision of empowered women of the present.