5/21/2013


PARIS, July 4, 2007 (AFP) - Elie Saab provided some welcome high octane Hollywood glamour with his haute couture collection for next winter on Wednesday, every item on the runway fit for a silver screen goddess.

In the absence of Valentino, who is showing his lines in Rome at the weekend, the Lebanese designer's show would be an obvious place to locate the right dress for a movie first night or picking up an Oscar.

Plunging necklines and bare backs reigned supreme, with every possible variation in between, whether shrugged off-the-shoulder, gently draped across the cleavage, or criss-crossed behind with spaghetti straps.

Saab whipped up lashings of lurex, lame, frothy tulle and floating silk chiffon into show-stopping gowns, encrusted with sequins and strass to catch in the strobe lights - all in a monochrome palette of black, anchracite grey and liquid silver.

Highpoints were column dresses with drapery like Greek goddesses, bodices festooned with 1920s flapper beaded fringes, and kimono evening jackets in metallic finish shantung.

Fellow Lebanese George Chakra, who also specialises in red-carpet glamour and dressing Middle East royal families, describes his winter couture collection as "modern glamour."

For this season, he has been experimenting with combining high-tech materials with conventional luxury fabrics, for example the electric blue plastic bustier he teamed with a short mesh circle skirt to open his show or a silver plastic corset-cum-suit-of-armour studded with Swarovski crystals to top a hand-painted chiffon evening gown.

The exquisite embroidery, like the trompe l'oeil peacock feather eyes decorating an amber cocktail frock, is all done in Beirut where he has a workroom of 90 staff.

Chakra, who has been busy despite the ongoing turmoil, is keeping his fingers crossed that there will be no repetition of last year, when his entire collection on arrival back from Paris got stuck in Beirut airport while it was being bombed.

Franck Sorbier leaves the red carpet gowns to the grand luxury houses, but more than amply compensates with his inventiveness and sheer craftmanship, often with humble or recyled fabrics.

A typical example in his latest collection was his jacket dedicated to painters Robert and Sonia Delaunay, with a pattern of concentric circles in bright primary red, yellow and blue entirely picked out in feathers, a work of art in its own right.

A trapeze-shaped dress in denim was over-embroidered from top to toe with wisps of white silk chiffon and silver sequins, stitched on with metallic thread. A hooded coat was constructed from a myriad of black and white organza ribbons and hand-shredded to look like animal fur.

The 23 models stood in booths to allow each to be admired separately while the bride, in pink duchesse satin with pink plumes fashioned into a bird on one shoulder, roller-skated down a central aisle.

Among the designers presenting on the sidelines of the couture shows, Britain's Adam Jones got the inspiration for his collection from Murano glass.

"I had a couple and I turned them upside down and they looked like miniature dresses. So I bought a whole lot more and put them all round the room."

He aimed to recreate the fine workmanship and weightlessness of crystal.

Another theme is shells, "because I know they also inspired the Murano glass workers.

Both ideas come together in a cocktail frock with a cream corset of organza ribbon, folded like origami and stitched to imitate the serrated edge of a shell, over a fluted skirt in gradations of powder pink to rose.

His delicate cotton knit dresses in misty grey and cyclamen red with openwork like broderie anglaise and ultra-fine pleating looked featherlight.

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