For nearly twenty years, Zuhair Murad's signature has been the kind of lavishly sequined, "tattoo beaded" high evening dresses that make big waves in places like Cannes. This year, the 40-year-old designer scored photo ops on three major French starlets, and Petra Nemcova donned an elaborate gown that, by the designer's own reckoning, probably added more than 20 pounds to her frame. Not that his girls complain: Women who live that level of glamour are keen enough to step out in Murad's creations. They likely don't even notice.
Given that he's got nighttime wrapped, Murad has been exploring daywear of late, with more prints, more color, and more casual options like T-shirts and trousers. Nearly half the looks in the collection were for day (or day-to-night). The challenge Murad gave himself, he said, was tackling "safari chic" in a new way. "When you say safari, it's not ordinarily a very sexy, glamorous theme," he explained. Rather than go literal with the usual big-game prints, he incorporated his signature transparency—chiffon, mesh, lace—onto khaki ramier shirtdresses with a touch of military about them. Colonial inspirations followed, with African motifs extrapolated into graphic zigzag triangles stitched onto numbers that, while beaded, nonetheless managed to appear pared-back. It wasn't Out of Africa, but any safari offers up a pulse-racing moment or two, and on that count Murad delivered.