Elie Saab

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  • Caterina Minthe

For his loyal Middle Eastern clientele, Elie Saab’s show is always one of the most highly anticipated on the Haute Couture calendar. Heading to the show, we mentally prepared ourselves for an onslaught of mermaid dresses with decadent embroideries on peek-a-boo fabrics, in romantic hues, and buckled with skinny belts—and a front row showcasing some of the best cosmetic surgery on offer today.

The show notes stated that the work of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was an inspirational starting-point. The Dutch painter was renowned for his ability to paint architecture from antiquity with great precision. And while the colors lifted from Alma-Tadema’s tableaus—lilacs, rose d’ors, and hydrangea blues—were beautiful, this season, Saab will be remembered for having experimented with new shapes and cuts.

Just as Saab’s over-the-top East-meets-West princess signature style risked repeating itself, he offered us the pleasant surprise of exploring new silhouettes to plant a Spring 2014 garden of Alma-Tadema palette-inspired dresses. First, he introduced the empire waist, a softer silhouette, and christened it with crystal embroideries and flower appliqués that cascaded down the length of the skirt. Empire waists aside, on the whole, the fabrics were decidedly more fluid, as was the case with one poppy-red, tulle dress featuring three-quarter length loose sleeves, a silk embroidered bodice, and a skirt with tone-on-tone vertical sparkling strips. Next, a series of Grecian-styled dresses evoking thoughts of Diana the Huntress emerged. Flowing gossamer silks with wrapped, draped, and folded pleats showcased thigh-high slits, which broke the skirt to allow for maximum movement.

Saab, of course, made a nod to his Cinderella silhouette with a handful of ball gowns, the most stunning of which was a sleeveless bodice painted the color of a midnight sky that saw a bucket of flowers tumble down across a super-sized, voluminous skirt. Certainly, with awards season fast approaching, there are more than a handful of these “promise of spring” dresses that will soon be seen again on the red carpet.