“Back then, Beirut seemed to be constantly adorned for a party that would never end.” If you ever wondered where Elie Saab got his taste for sequins and crystals, it was spelled out in the chapbook he presented to guests at his Haute Couture show today. The Lebanese designer dedicated the collection to his past. A portrait of his parents when they were as young as Saab’s own children are now graced the first pages of the catalog; in it his mother wears a tulip-print dress that provided a template for new embroideries. Saab is one of the most consistent couturiers around, known for glittering red-carpet fare, but using his ’60s childhood (he called the period Beirut’s “golden age”) injected a certain freshness into his lineup. Above-the-knee party frocks trimmed in ostrich plumes were paired with low-heeled satin sandals, a first chez Saab. Other unexpected silhouettes—a sheer tulle jumpsuit with beads, a tulle robe coat with deep bands of feathers on the sleeve—signaled a new low-key attitude. In keeping with that relaxed spirit, nearly all the looks, gowns included, were built with pockets.
Saab rarely uses prints, preferring the simplicity of a solid-color dress, but his mother’s tulips proved a powerful totem this season. The watercolor floral of a strapless number with petal-like embroidery of point d’esprit and a short, flirty option in the same vivid pattern could be tempting alternatives for the woman who can’t or doesn’t want to wear the designer’s plentiful sheer styles.