You have to watch an awful lot of Elie Saab to get to the good bits. Forty-six or so dresses into the show, the best finally arrived: a dramatic black strapless gown made of circles of lace edged with tulle ruffles that was cut close to the body and broke into a swirl below the knee. It was vaguely Spanish, a tinge Edwardian, and had the slender, attenuated silhouette that also appeared at Chanel and Lacroix. Yes, it was on trend, but it would be a gorgeous dress in any season, and one that could confer mystique upon a clever woman who booked it for her Oscar appearance. The fact that few would be able to place its origin would only add to its attraction.
To be fair, there was a clutch of other dresses in the nude-and-silver-sequin section that could turn heads for the right reasons. But those almost passed unnoticed amid the overlong parade of white-lace-and-crystal cocktail numbers, hobbling sheaths, shot-taffeta gowns, and Lurex goddess dresses. A few looks, including some with very peculiar stiff bust protrusions, one of which stuck out at a sharp angle 12 inches to the left, were wince-making. Many more, however, were simply near misses, spoiled by just one detail too far.
Ultimately, there's nothing wrong with Saab's show that a stiff edit and a pair of scissors wouldn't improve. If he'd take a red pencil to his long, apparently randomly planned running order, and snipped off, say, the dangling ribbon and beads that interfered with a perfectly decent black lace cocktail dress, he'd be getting somewhere.