BEIRUT: Lebanese designers wrapped their models in meters of flesh-baring, sheer silks, cinched their waists and dusted them with just enough applique and sequins to cover the important parts at the parade of haute couture shows this week in Paris.
Elie Saab, Georges Hobeika and Zuhair Murad showed off haute couture collections for spring-summer 2013 that were steeped in ornamentation.
Buckets of sparkling beads and sequins, as well as floral motifs, feathers and pastel palettes gave the collections a fairy-like innocence – except for the many pairs of nipples peaking through the gowns.
Saab’s couture collection fell in step with past collections: glittering, red-carpet-ready gowns with flattering high waistlines, sweeping skirts and sheer fabrics. Floral embellishment climbed up the dresses from bottom to top as though they were garden trellises.
Instead of the simpler, skin-baring lace of Saab’s summer ready-to-wear collection, his haute couture featured embroidered tulles and silks that scantily concealed the flesh beneath. His theme “Ode to Delicateness” inspired dresses meant to fit like a second skin, according to Saab’s news release.
Saab kept the focus on the pronounced 3-D flowers, beadwork and sequins by creating monochromatic gowns in bridal white, ivory, poppy red, lilac and black. One standout exception was a set of four gowns with a dramatic black neo-Baroque pattern offset by multicolored flowers.
Hobeika showed Monday a delicate collection with the theme “peace blossom.” Like Saab, Hobeika focused on the feminine A-line silhouette, with fluttering skirts and transparent tops in pastels and whites. His floral theme took a playful turn with oversized beads set in flat spheres and 3-D flowers that looked like something from a child’s arts and craft kit.
Other nods to the blossom included a white fabric with a pale rose print, which he layered on top of full maxi and midi skirts. He also covered his gowns with bouncing, beaded fringe, silk flowers and pearls.
Hobeika stepped away at times from the couture gown by pairing tailored trousers and tunics with an iridescent, gossamer sheen, and pencil skirts with peplum jackets.
His finale wedding dress wowed with its train that fluttered with silk flowers and stuck out from behind like a 19th-century bustle.
The designer seemed to be making a vague political statement, and posted on his Facebook page six of his couture looks that he said “symbolize the purity of peace.”
Zuhair Murad’s couture collection had a less delicate tone, showing gilded dresses and structured bodices that were at times reminiscent of gladiators.
Murad took his baroque inspiration to the extreme with details like winding beaded tendrils, golden wings and feathers, prints meant to look like ornate architectural molding, and even tiny cherub angels printed in the shadows of the gold designs.
He created a number of mini dresses and leotards so covered in shimmering brocades and structured boning that they appeared like suits of armor. In contrast, the evening gowns featured empire waists, single shoulders, loose gathered chiffons and capes that billowed down the runway.