Elie Saab: Rich, opulent fashion in the raw mountains of Lebanon
Designed in Lebanon; made in Lebanon; and shot and edited in Lebanon, yet Elie Saab’s newest collection and show video was still unveiled in Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday.
Entitled Hymn À la Vie, the 5-minute clip brilliantly captures the raw beauty of the Lebanese mountains - their massive raw rocks and parched high-altitude prairies, juxtaposed with the lush femininity of this spring-summer 2021 collection.
Shot in the hill northeast of Beirut, the cast strolled before giant granite boulders, and endless mountain views, dotted with huge illuminated crosses.
“It’s a beautiful part of Lebanon, with amazing rock formations. Nature has a special flavour there. And, I loved the contrast with these clothes with the stark rocks,” explained Saab in a phone call from his studio in the Lebanese capital. His headquarters was damaged by the giant blast in Beirut in August, but builders managed to finish all the reparations work in 10 days.
For next spring, Elie mixes up beautiful white jumpsuits; elongated perforated cotton A-line dresses; or striking Arabesque chiffon gowns with dextrously sewn golden beading and trim. Often the marabou feathers that finished several looks stood out in the untamed nature, like a herd of black mountain goats that suddenly appeared over a ridge.
Saab took his share of risks with fine white mannish shirts with bouffant sleeves; or delightful black crystal embroidered blouses with plisse armadillo sleeves. A black negligee soirée section, with most looks accessorized with Phoenician gold costume jewelry, was totally chic.
A whole series of bright shamrock green pants suits; cutaway picnic dresses; and safari style cocktails all looked superb before the burned-out majestic ridges. All artfully filmed by Mounia Akl, with a great soundtrack by Ukrainian folk quartet DakhaBrakha. An award-winning filmmaker, Akl shot this summer’s special couture capsule collection that Saab prepared during lockdown.
“I like the contrast between the lush green setting where Mounia shot couture, and this was raw, rocky location for my ready-to-wear. I wanted a celebration of the life and needed the strong, optimistic colors between white and black. I think after this very difficult year, people long to be happy again,” explained Elie.
All the cast finishing the day by striding to the mountain top, many in soft lilac fantasies, before a deep blue sunset and a half moon appeared.
Saab’s next destination is Milan to start working on his next collection and then to Paris, where this collection has just begun selling to buyers.
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