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Chakra fights back against despair

  • Fashion designer Georges Chakra, centre, acknowledges applause, surrounded by models, at the end of his Spring-Summer 2014 Haute Couture fashion collection presentation, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan.22, 2014. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

  • A model wears a creation by fashion designer Geoges Chakra as part of his Spring-Summer 2014 Haute Couture fashion collection presentation, in Paris, Wednesday, Jan.22, 2014. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS: Lebanese designer Georges Chakra was back to his vibrant, whimsical self Wednesday when he presented a spring-summer couture collection inspired by optimism.

His show was a circus of color and metallics. Dresses had playful fish scales, capes were covered in abstract paint strokes and structured metallic bodices fit like armor.

Last season, Chakra created a buzz after showing a morbid wedding dress handpainted in black. That whole winter collection had a somberness that came through in a muted color palette. Chakra later told The Daily Star that darkness had to do with the political and security situations in Lebanon and region, which had brought the designer down.

Wednesday’s show in Paris, however, was not only an end to Chakra’s security blues, but an outright rebellion against sadness of any sort. For who could be sad wearing an orange cocktail dress made from plastic?

He started the show with a set of white cocktail dresses embellished with silk, wisps of paint and feathers. Their simplicity gave way to several full-length gowns covered from head to toe in silk scales made from hundreds of laser-cut pieces.

Chakra’s playfulness wore on in a set of cocktail dresses paired with flat sandals and which looked like a cross between a gladiator and a 1950s showgirl. The skirts were made from a plastic material called rhodoid, which gave them a stiff and futuristic look. Perhaps compensating for last season, he went from bright to brighter with tangerine, fuchsia and green.

One of the most impressive creations was a floor-length gown combining sheer organza in aquamarine overlaid with a short skirt made from squares of rhodoid and bits of feathery fringe floating up the collar. The mash-up of delicate elements with the structure of plastic created an unusual contrast.

Another head turner was a billowing light rose cape in taffeta that the designer paired with cigarette pants in the same color and a top – if you could call it that – made only from an oversized necklace of crystals that did nothing to hide the body underneath.

Chakra didn’t do away with everything from his somber winter season, however. The same hand-painted silk which featured in his notorious black wedding dress made a return this season looking even more abstract – albeit in lighter colors.

Last season, The Daily Star noted that Chakra’s black wedding dress looked like something out of a Pollock-era abstraction. That was an exaggeration compared to this season’s looks, on which paint was literally splattered in smears and streaks of tan, silver and blue. He fused all of the elements of his new collection – the cape, the plastic and the hand painting – in an off-white gown with a long cape splattered in paint and a structured golden bodice made from strips of rhodoid.

Perhaps the most awaited piece in his collection was the wedding dress. In another departure from the classic white dress, Chakra sent his model down the aisle in pink.

It was clear he meant to send a message to fight back with optimism, happiness and passion, three words he used to describe the spring-summer collection.

“To kill the morosity, Georges Chakra’s heroines are playing all their cards,” read the explanation of his collection. “The show and chic must go on!”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 23, 2014, on page 11.

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Summary

Lebanese designer Georges Chakra was back to his vibrant, whimsical self Wednesday when he presented a spring-summer couture collection inspired by optimism.

Last season, Chakra created a buzz after showing a morbid wedding dress handpainted in black.

For who could be sad wearing an orange cocktail dress made from plastic?

Chakra didn't do away with everything from his somber winter season, however. The same hand-painted silk which featured in his notorious black wedding dress made a return this season looking even more abstract – albeit in lighter colors.


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