“I have a lot of respect for native cultures. Without them, we are not here. They left us an unlimited heritage of art and beauty,” said Zuhair Murad before his spring show, in which he looked to Native American and First Nations cultures for inspiration.
The designer expressed his regard through a generous helping of embellishments. There was hardly anything that could pass as daywear, even for the couture clientele.
The symbolism and visual vocabulary of Native American cultures, the Sioux, the Navajos and the Iroquois in particular, provided visual cues that blended geometric pictograms and his hyper-feminine shapes in a palette of red, white, gold and black.
He kicked off with a fringed romper beaded in sparkling motifs that were cited as Sioux motifs. That look set the tone for a wealth of crystal-studded symbols and geometries throughout. Ensembles in startlingly vibrant motifs, even when they were in monochromes, were sensual in their confidence. Dresses came with fringes, belts, cape sleeves, cascades of crystals and were strewn with suns and arrow heads, feathers and geometric cutouts.
Murad’s determination to translate an inspiration to the fullest resulted in some slip-ups, like landscape embroideries or a crimson ballgown covered in teepee and cacti motifs — it was cliché in an awkward way. But his attention to detail included harmony in the intricate patterns.
For all its glittering luxury, his deference to the crafts that came before him is clear. He described Native American women as “very strong, very powerful, very confident.” That might as well have been a description of his perennial muse.