Quite what thought process did Elie Saab go through in choosing to stage an all-white Couture show in the selfsame former Rue Cambon bank where Karl Lagerfeld put on his amazingly lyrical all-white show in January? Did he think the audience wouldn't notice? Or does he really feel comfortable comparing himself to the Kaiser? Or was he simply oblivious to what had taken place there six months ago? Any which way it came about, Saab would have to be remarkably insensitive not to realize that it was going to cause a sharp intake of breath and suppressed giggles among people who know about fashion.
That noted (which it must be), following in Lagerfeld's footsteps—with short, white, graphic-shouldered and fluffy-skirted dresses—did seem to effect an update in Saab's point of view. A lot of work went into the surface decorations: the flowers made of raw-edged disks of tulle, the appliqués of single ostrich feathers, and the sprinklings of crystal. At one point, so many variations on the short theme had passed that it almost seemed like Saab had decided to devote himself to a whole new young, hip customer. Yet it wasn't to be: The lineup then reverted to the designer's more typical long dresses as if a separate collection were commencing. The shapes in this section were Empire or mermaid, silver-beaded Hollywood siren gowns interspersed with some more modern takes on Amazonian asymmetric shoulder straps and shoulder architecture. Taken individually, and put into real-life social events, there'll be nothing egregious or at all embarrassing about any of these Saab creations. They'll look current, but more thanks to Chanel than Elie Saab.