The Elie Saab spring couture show was one of those rare fashion occasions on which wearing a fur coat is a genuine necessity. Ranks of Middle Eastern mother-and-daughter clients turned out thus dressed to withstand the January winds whistling through the École des Beaux-Arts, while observing Saab's models swishing by wearing very much less.
A theatrical voiceover at the beginning of the show said something about a siren washed up on a beach, looking for a man. But that introduction had nothing much to do with the clothes, which began, and after 52 other looks, ended with two wedding dresses, each spectacularly draped to the torso, smothered in winking crystal, and bursting into satin flounces beneath the knee.
In between, there were short and shimmying dresses with beaded fringe and many more long, flowy chiffon gowns traced with lines of crystal and sequin embroidery. Saab also added in a few bejeweled skirtsuits, something akin to Prada in Technicolor, but in essence, the message was relentlessly consistent. This collection is about occasion dressing, mostly in ocean-inspired sea green, aqua, turquoise, pale blue, anemone pink, and coral. To judge from the attendance register, it's a prime resource for the many weddings that will take place this spring in Saab's native Beirut, and beyond.
Saab doesn't provide the varietyeach outfit differently conceived, worked, and embroideredthat has been emerging elsewhere in Paris. His show, by the standards of this city, was repetitive, and in the cold winter light of Europe, all that color takes on a jarring look. On the other hand, unlike so many others, this was clearly not a collection wandering in wistful hopes of attracting a clientele. They were there in force, and when Saab took his bows, they stood to applaud him.