Imported luxury cloth that birthed from Chinese lands at the muses of Empress Leizu went on to adorn the physiques of royal families of the Qin dynasty, and then journeyed to take a much-anticipated expedition down the silk road to be unraveled by the rest of the awaiting world.
Keeping the essence of the maison, Elie Saab was inspired by the Far East for his Fall/Winter 2019/2020 couture collection.
We’re talking mal caos complimenting the necks of Sijia Kang and Cindy Bruna, and silk numbers infatuated with symbolisms embellished using golden threading. Hanfu dresses given a haute couture twist à la Elie Saab slided down the runway, and for the ultimate showstopper element; a phoenix crown, teleported from the ancient Han Dynasty, residing on the bride’s sleek updo.
Held in Palais de Tokyo, the Lebanese fashion house narrated stories passed down through generations, and he often does so always managing to envisage a panorama from a certain time or place – be it the Moroccan kaftans in FW 17/18 or the Caribbean getaway he conjured for his SS19 couture show.
The Eastern world and its history has regularly been a source of inspiration for designers, especially with Chinese garments. It’s rather humorous to think that back in time, Chinese emperors fought hard to make silk a secret at first, making it only available to the Chinese imperial court. But with time it did spread, and it spread beyond their expectations – to a room full of sought-after models, influencer marketers, and the ostentatious fashion names slapped all over the world’s most popular photo app.
Intertwining his signature form-fitting cuts with kimono-inspired gowns, Saab’s collection resulted in a cohesive mastery of ultimate sumptuousness. The common denominator was the fierce kimono coat of arms with hyperbolic shoulders, all wrapped around using a metal belt, one of the brand’s core identities.
The fascinating facet about the collection is that some of the couture dresses exude a combat aura, in the sense that the models marching down that runway looked like chic warrior princesses, only missing a sword hanging from their belts. He re-imagined what the Silk Road – or Silk Runway at that matter – could have been, what it constitutes and how it contributed to the rest of the world.
The see-through gowns were a marvel as well, bedecked with patterns borrowed from the royal Chinese costume. The embroidery and sheer materials were dominant and when they weren’t, velvet took over releasing its seductive power using drapes of overstated sleeves and straight cut silhouettes. The hues were taken straight from Saab’s drawing book boasting of sapphire blues, ruby reds, emerald greens, morganite pinks, and amethyst violets.
The bride closed the show manifesting as a golden dream with wing-like structures embellishing the skirt of the gown, and a phoenix crown, as per Chinese royalty. And just when you think your eyes have feasted just enough, the train of the gown appears grazing behind the model as she finishes her walk, ending the show on a flawless note.
Here are the rest of our favorite looks from the show: