#SuzyCouture: Elie Saab’s Roaring Twenties
Motifs of leaves and trees from his homeland, or birds in flight… Elie Saab’s recent collections have been rooted in his love for Lebanon. “But his couture season for this summer centred on Paris – not of the 21st century, but rather an all-singing, all-dancing era when the City of Light was, as presented in the Saab show notes, “the city of love and city of sin”.
“Les Années folles” – the crazy years of the 1920s – tend to look better as images in photographs of that party time rather than as a regurgitation of the short and slithering silken dresses that young women wore back then. The modern Saab produced, as ever, lovely and elegant evening dresses with crystal twinkling on chiffon, oversize satin bows, and feathers fluttering in the wind back to those Roaring Twenties.
But there was something that did not quite work about whisper-light long dresses that were scissored off at the front to show legs bared to mid-thigh. The effect was pretty, rather than vulgar, yet with women wearing black dresses and proclaiming “Time’s Up!” in the post-Weinstein era, the Ooh! La, la! effect seemed awkward.
Maybe if Saab had teamed the dresses with those Flapper shoes, as seen shimmying on the Twenties dance floor, the effect would have been better than with the designer’s penchant for spindle-heeled satin footwear.
Much of the Elie Saab show was appealing: the sparkly Twenties headgear; the soft colours such as lilac, peach and almond. Yet what was fun and daring for Josephine Baker is nothing to do with now. Perversely, the Art Deco patterning still looks modern, and a smart way to put crystals on a party dress.
But fashion is all about capturing “l’air du temps” – what’s in the air. And in the time it must have taken for Saab to execute these intensely decorative clothes, the party – especially on the red carpet – seems to be coming to its end.