Pictures showcase a selection from different Elie Saab couture shows, between 2004 and 2012 (every picture is labeled accordingly to show how similar 10 years of ‘design’ have been).
Identity Crisis 02: Elie Saab
By Admin I: It’s not like we’re bashing the ‘Jesus’ of the Lebanese fashion design, even if we already know that many of you are going to totally disagree with us, but it’s high time someone bursts that fragile bubble protecting a rare talent; Elie Saab is by fact one of the all-time most talented designers: he knows very well how to accentuate a woman’s silhouette and can easily charge any garment with mere aesthetic beauty, the way that no one can really argue with, but on the other hand, Saab faced lots of ups and downs in his career, even if the Lebanese bourgeoisie was too distracted by his red carpet style and couldn’t notice flaws. It only takes a quick flashback to his latest 10 years of runway shows to notice that so little has changed, an identity is there yet very shy and too passive; An identity in crisis!
Where Saab went wrong was in contravening an unwritten code that distinguishes couturiers from merely serviceable dressmakers. That is, every single outfit should be special in its own right. (Sarah Mower/ Style.com)
Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful garments have been designed by Elie Saab and worn by the most famous international and local celebrities, but when a designer fails to improve, to develop and to reinvent himself, a “designer” title becomes somehow a sign of overrating, more of a privilege than a truly deserved position. Redundancy is what his collections have been struggling with, despite all the influences he tried to enrich the garments with, from cultural to historical eras; silhouettes remained very similar, embellished, heavily beaded and too harmonious! It’s somehow reflecting this Lebanese urge to add too much sugar to the tea.
Saab’s talents don’t lie as much in patternmaking (the cuts are quite simple and repetitive) as they do in his way with embellishments:
He opened with a caftan shape in embroidered black tulle. The silhouette looked novel for him, but he mostly stuck to his Oscar-winning formula of red-carpet frocks. By Nicole Phelps / Style.com
One of the most interesting thoughts on Saab’s identity crisis was Mower’s take on his development:
If that makes Saab a designer who understands the popular appeal of all-out glamour more than the high-minded conceptualism of traditional haute couture, it certainly hurts his business not one jot.
Saab still likes to be absolutely sure no one misses the point of his dresses, and since there were essentially four shapes in a 44-look show, quite a lot of surreptitious Blackberry twiddling had broken out in the audience a quarter of the way in. (Sarah Mower/ Style.com)
So guys, let me reformulate this argument: as much as we hate when Lebanese bash their successful peers, we do care to spread design awareness for the sake of triggering an active chain of thoughts. Whoever tells you Elie Saab is a great designer, nudge, agree and totally get excited but try to complement your supportive attitude with an insight: Elie Saab is a great couturier, but still has a lot of room to grow as a designer, as an innovator and that’s quite promising.