PARIS/BEIRUT: Lebanese designer Elie Saab presented an uncharacteristically dark collection on a drama-filled day for the fashion industry.
Saab is best known for his ethereal gowns covered in crystals and flowers – just have a look at his creations on show at the Oscars Sunday. But his winter ready-to-wear, titled “Dark Opulence,” took on more somber themes. The collection opened with wine-colored trousers and models whose nails were painted dark green. The reddish purple continued in fitted coats and lace blouses with blooming neckties and then darkened to include strips of faded black and dark emerald.
The darkness moved Saab’s knack for pretty femininity to vampy sexiness. Sheer panels revealed bare legs and short underskirts, and his sheer sheaths dimmed from their usual nude and pastel tones to black lace. Opulence was there in sequined gowns, rich velvets and fur collars.
American artist Mark Rothko – a 20th century abstract expressionist – supplied the inspiration, according to the collection notes. The influence came through in hazy color transitions and the straight lines of pleats and alternating sheer and opaque panels.
The past several years have seen Elie Saab’s fashion house undergo considerable expansion, starting with a perfume line and branching out into accessories. To better communicate those changes, the house launched an e-magazine to coincide with Monday’s show, which was as much about the dresses as a new line of leather bits and metal bangles. Dark opulence carried over into wine-colored satchel bags, beaded clutches, suede boots and trendy arm cuffs.
Saab’s somber collection set the stage for a dramatic day in fashion.
The world’s most influential fashion critic, Suzy Menkes, announced she’s ditching newspapers after a quarter of a century, though she denied there’s an end in sight for the print industry. Meanwhile, a hooded Rihanna tried her best to pass unnoticed at the Stella McCartney show but still caused mayhem.
The doyenne of fashion, with instantly recognizable curled bangs, Menkes, 70, is ending her 25-year reign as fashion editor for the International New York Times.
“I’m going to Conde Nast,” she told the Associated Press, saying she’s excited to move on from papers. “I’m especially thrilled to be online because with newspapers, you know. ... But I’ve had a wonderful career in print,” she added.
Menkes’ new post will be International Editor for Vogue magazine, across all countries except the U.S.
Rihanna also caused a fashion stir Monday. Try as she might to be discreet – enveloped in a green-black Stella McCartney hooded coat – Rihanna had no luck. Within seconds of her arrival Monday, her star-power magnetism drew in the paparazzi, who followed her backstage where she chatted with British model of the moment Cara Delevigne.
In the hoopla over Rihanna, Swinging Sixties icon Marianne Faithfull lambasted a reporter after getting squashed at a fashion show.
She blasted a reporter for asking the “Diamonds” singer, sitting four seats down, a question about “12 Years a Slave” winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Faithfull, 66, who first found fame as Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, attended the Paris show to support longtime friend McCartney.
She overheard the Oscars question for Rihanna and interrupted grumpily: “That’s a ridiculous question. ... Get a new job!”
The journalist replied: “What’s your job?”
In one of Menkes’ final fashion pieces for NYT, she pondered Saab’s long-sleeved gowns, which will undoubtedly end up on the red carpet: “Perhaps the world, and a rain-soaked Hollywood, is learning to dare to cover up, rather than to bare.”