Elie Saab was in an elegiac mood this season, paying homage to his native Beirut with a shimmering collection of gowns inspired by the women he saw growing up during the city’s Sixties heyday, before a 15-year civil war reduced its casinos and beach clubs to a pile of rubble.
Trees, bushes and other greenery dotted the runway, heralding a bucolic theme that the Lebanese designer traced back to one of his earliest memories: his mother in a black silk dress printed with tulips.
“With every new collection I conceived, the striking image of my mother in this tulip-print silk dress reappeared endlessly,” he said in his show notes, which took the form of a lushly illustrated booklet that read like an old travel brochure.
Saab’s spring lineup featured decorative details, including oversize blooms and abstract tree-bark effects on sheer fabrics in powdery shades of ivory, pink, beige and green. Ostrich feathers were used to fabulous effect as an allover trim on a nude dress with sequined floral embroideries and a cape back. In a more delicate vein, individual ostrich feathers nestled among 3-D chiffon tulip petals on a full-skirted pink guipure dress with long sleeves.
Saab capped off the delicate display with a series of all-black looks, including an ankle-length dress with short sleeves, its clean shape counterbalanced by an allover embroidered tulip motif. It brought to mind a black-and-white photo in the inspiration book that shows the designer’s parents gazing into the distance, his mother wearing the dress that triggered his vocation.