Elie Saab Couture Fall 2021

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Titled “Buds of Hope,” a floral theme ran through Elie Saab’s fall couture collection, channeling a message of optimism through a textured lineup of powdery gowns with tone-on-tone embroidery as well as a series of brighter, feathered pieces in stark colors.

“Each time, we try to present haute couture embroidery in a different manner — there are a lot of new ways of doing things, that’s the strength of the house,” said Saab, speaking to WWD via Zoom from Lebanon, noting the use of guipure lace, sheer organza and feathers.

The designer reined in volumes for some of his airy pieces, offering a pale blue dress with three-dimensional leaves that spilled down the skirt; another in pale green was sheer, with a draped bodice and lines of sequins running sideways, framing leaf-like patterns. A coat in a pastel blue — cut like a bomber jacket — was embellished with pearls and leaves, worn over a draped dress in the same color, adding volume to the slender silhouette underneath.

Elie Saab Couture Fall 2021

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“We try to take away things or add things to ensure lightness,” he explained.

There was plenty of volume, too, including a wide-skirted dress in a nude color, with patches of blue and green floral patterns, topped off with a ring of rose-shaped flowers circling the neck — made of feathers.

Saab observed that his clients are looking for less flashy styles — weddings and other events are more intimate affairs nowadays, with guests numbering in the 200 to 300 range, rather than crowds of 500 to a thousand seen before pandemic.

This allows for a focus on details that can be appreciated close up.

“There is a lot of work on the clothing, but things are more subtle,” he said. Such details included touches of velvet, as straps or bows here and there, which recalled the velvety effect of the feather work. A few gowns were coated in feathers — wide, flat ones, not the wispy kind — one in pale blue with abstract floral motifs delineated by patches of color; another had a black background and sequined bodice.

Adding balance to the lineup, the designer also offered a series of taffeta dresses with no embellishment whatsoever, wrapping streams of fabric around the body, topping the looks off by knotting a prominent bow at the waist or on a shoulder. Other dresses had streaks of sheer material offering peeks of flesh — including a slinky, sharp-shouldered velvet number in a dark burgundy.

The clothes were shown in a white backdrop with columns as props. Plans are to resume runway shows in January, if possible, said the designer, noting the label prefers to start up again when it is clear that normal life has resumed, rather than risk starting up only to stop again.

“We hope that soon everything will be settled,” he said of the challenges facing Lebanon.

The label pushed into the digital realm, joining  Amazon’s Luxury Stores late last year, and is also available on sites run by Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Saab flagged an upcoming push will into property, with hotels in the works.

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