Elie Saab: Couture as a theatre of dreams

Elie Saab returned to his youth in his latest fashion statement, an haute couture collection that mused on his own pre-teen dreams of becoming a couturier.
Due to the strict lockdown in Lebanon, Saab delayed the release of the collection until Tuesday, creating a collection of 60 looks. The Beirut-based couturier traditionally shows during the Paris haute couture season, which took place last month in the French capital.

Birds of fantasy in marvelous plumage covered crinolines; densely packed clouds of chiffon; or cumuli of marabou feathers all made for a supremely theatrical collection from the Phoenecian couturier.

“I started by remembering when I was a child, and stayed all day at the window dreaming of beautiful things,” smiled Saab, who has also been very busy on the commercial front – unveiling new licenses for watches, perfume and beauty in the past few weeks.

“This season, I felt the need for an exaggerated vision. This is the first time I’ve worked with such great volumes, larger forms and big feathers, as I tried to go dreamier,” explained Saab, sporting designer stubble in a Zoom from his fashion house in central Beirut.

Working in his preferred color scheme of powdery whites, very light blues and pinks; juxtaposed with a dozen black looks, Saab whipped up a flamboyant collection of youthful grand dames in pearl and crystal grand gowns, their heads topped by huge feather displays.

“It’s not been an easy moment.  The lockdown here is already more than 40 days long. We could not finish the collection easily, and there was no point putting employees under even much pressure. So, we waited until last week to shoot the collection in a local theatre. I like always to be in Paris during fashion weeks, but it was not possible this year,” said Saab, who will show a fashion video for his slot in the Paris ready-to-wear season in March.

Elsewhere, Saab is excited about his new watch deal with Blackbox, unveiled with just one watch model this week and a new perfume license with Brands Beyond Beauty.
“We plan to expand perfumes and cosmetics; and aim for a much bigger distribution. We don’t want to be just niche, but much more mass,” concluded Saab, whose own home was wrecked in last year’s giant blast in the port of Beirut, forcing him to move apartments across the city.

Elie Saab is a Lebanese fashion designer. His main workshop is in Lebanon, with additional workshops in Milan and Paris. He started his business in the early 1980s and specialized in bridal couture. He is the first Arab to be admitted to the fashion industry’s governing body, Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

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