Spring 2021 Couture
Pictures by Elie Saab
Elie Saab Doubles Down on Fantasy for Spring
In a couture season that saw an unprecedented influx of “casual” and “wearable” clothes, Lebanese designer Elie Saab took each challenge that came his way, and there were many, to present a Spring Couture collection that was his most extravagant to date. Not only did Saab’s team have to work in a rotation of shifts due to Covid restrictions, but his beloved home of Beirut was dealing with the aftermath of a deadly explosion that made international news and brought the city to a standstill for weeks. It was enough to make any designer buckle under the stress, but Saab saw his struggles as a chance to turn sorrow into beauty, to return to the dreams of childhood when the wonders of the world still lay in front of him, and the night sky held endless magical possibilities. The outcome was his Spring Haute Couture collection, titled Le Théâtre du Rêve (Theater of the Dream), a fantastical experience that reminds us why we love the obsessive allure of couture.
The intricate details woven throughout the collection are mind-boggling, with the abundant use of feathers, embellishments, embroidery, texture, and tulle. It is truly a feast for the eyes. With a color palette that ranges from navy to black, to periwinkle, pink and white, Saab takes us on a journey through the starry night sky in a glamorous Belle Époque themed production that elevates the extravagance of the showgirl to couture levels. Make no mistake, this was theater, this was drama, this was a show. There were exaggerated, structured shoulders, and shoulders covered in plumes of soft feathers. Shimmering jewels were encrusted on almost every look, incorporated as chest pieces, dangling as oversized chandelier earrings; facial ornaments attached to towering feathered headpieces straight out of the Folies Bergère. Textiles that appeared light as air were painstakingly adorned with beads and jewels in a feat of engineering that must have weighed more than the models who wore them. Short dresses were paired with corresponding thigh-high boots that appeared as an extension of the garment, perfectly paired and matching in material and accouterments. There were pants, beautifully draped and framed, paired with a matching peplum top with oversized shoulders and a train. Layered black tulle formed swinging ballgowns with shoulders exploding in the same material. Soft chiffon was cut and layered in blooming petals that formed skirts and a chest engulfing cape. The collection commenced with the exalted Elie Saab bride, always a highlight of the show, and with a collection so overwhelmed by splendor, she did not disappoint. A sequin and pearl-encrusted off-the-shoulder bodice rested atop layers and layers of embellished tulle, topped off by a jeweled headpiece that gave way to a floor-grazing veil. I do, indeed.
Saab wanted to create an escape with this collection, to give people a place to believe in beauty and hope once again. In what may have been his most tumultuous year, the designer felt the freest to let his imagination fly. There was no thought given to stay-at-home wear, not a care about the lack of red carpet or A-list events. Le Théâtre du Rêve was a love letter to his loyal clients and fashion lovers everywhere. Saab gave us art when we needed it most, and the world is thankful.
Written by Elizabeth Kramsky