Cannes film fashion in black and white

BEIRUT: Back during the drizzly cold of winter in Paris, Elie Saab’s spring-summer couture collection took a dramatic turn halfway through the runway show.

Black summer gowns, some in monochrome lace and others dimming into black from bouquets of hand-painted flowers, broke from the typical parade of glittering pastels. At those January shows, splashes of dark colors felt appropriate as slightly damp guests skipped between fashion shows themselves dressed in head-to-toe black and using their expensive handbags to protect them from the rain. But at the Cannes Film Festival, which ended Sunday, the color black was a mainstay of red carpet fashion even as sunshine and mild temperatures prevailed throughout the 12-day event.

Whether it was Italian director Sofia Coppola in laid-back, relatively minimal gowns or Spanish actress Paz Vega wearing a deep V-neck, va-va-voom Fitriani dress to an AIDS gala during the festival, celebrities set black as the unusual choice color for spring. The slew of Lebanese designs featured were no exception either, as a few stars sidestepped the dozens of peach, pink and light blue gowns made by the likes of Saab and Zuhair Murad for darker hues.

There were predictable examples such as French actress Eva Green, a beauty characterized by her dark, dramatic style, who wore a black Saab jumpsuit to a photo shoot for her film “The Salvation.” The jumpsuit paired a long-sleeve lace top with simple, tailored trousers.

The red carpet offered a chance to see some of the dark spring dresses from Saab’s couture collection in real life. One of the most theatrical elements from the collection was the inclusion of panniers, an element of 17th century European dress that lifts the sides of a dress at the hips. Indian actress Sonam Kapoor showed up to the festival on May 18, wearing a black lace dress with these throw-back, waist-slimming panniers to the premiere of “The Homesman.”

Saab showed he knows how to milk a high fashion parade such as Cannes. His dresses featured at most, if not all, of the events. At the Chopard Dinner, it was unclear whether Saab wasn’t also a host of the feting as a slew of Victoria’s Secret models and Chopard’s co-president Caroline Scheufele showed up in gowns from the designer.

Adding to the darkness were the many dresses taken from last season’s fall-winter collections, which are typified each season by somber colors such as maroon, gray and navy. Clotilde Courau, for example, wore a black dress also by Saab from the house’s winter 2014 collection to the premiere of “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Flowers in red, pink and blue added a splash of color to an overall dark, strapless A-frame gown.

On the red carpet for the premiere of “Two Days, One Night,” model Petra Nemcova also reached for one of the rare black numbers among Zuhair Murad’s otherwise brightly colored spring collection inspired by the Garden of Eden. Nemcova chose a tulle gown with black beads adding some twinkle to its full skirt.

Creating an elegant, old-Hollywood contrast to the slew of black frocks was an equally surprising slew of relatively straightforward white gowns. Take for example, Toni Garrn, who paired her minimal makeup and loosely tied hair for a big party on the sidelines of the film screenings with an equally simple white gown from Saab’s spring collection.

There was also former Miss France and TV personality Alexandra Rosenfeld, whose red carpet appearance featured a long-sleeve minidress in ivory made by Lebanese designer Tony Ward.

Actress America Ferrera also chose white for the premiere of animated film “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” She wore an A-frame, off-white dress by Georges Hobeika. It was so nice, the brand joked on its Facebook page, that it drew serial Ukrainian prankster Vitalii Sediuk, to launch himself onto the red carpet and attempt to crawl up the back of Ferrera’s dress.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 28, 2014, on page 2.




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