Fashion and the arts have always had a close relationship, often with one feeding into the other or, in the case of Elie Saab’s AW17 collection, colliding altogether. In a continuing shift towards the sensual, the designer aligned his fall collection, themed "Poetry in Motion," with Giselle, a tale that mixes the harsh reality of love with the supernatural.
This season, Saab’s florals were not merely a decorative motif, but a form of symbolism interwined with his inspiration. In the story, Giselle dies of a broken heart after learning of her lover’s betrayal. Oxblood lilies, a reference to the soul’s innocence after death, cut across the bodice of a dotted lace mini dress and lay like tattoos over the forearms, emblems of Giselle’s beauty in the face of tragedy and loss. Leather jackets layered over sheer mid-length strapless gowns stood studded with the melancholy bloom, while further iterations appeared in chiffon and guipure lace.
Saab played with the relationship between night and day and light and dark repeatedly, first in his color palette and then in the array of silhouettes on offer. Dipping into the moody give and take of dawn, shades of night blue and black obscured the hint of day provided by pastel pinks and pops of cream. Daywear, in the form of pyjama cut pants, jumpsuits, and delicate gathered peplums, slowly lengthened into evening wear, with transitions in fur and feathers paired with tailored jackets.
The latter half of the show saw sheer reign supreme, an illusion to the “shadow of mystery” Saab sought to evoke. Corseted dresses outlined the silhouette in velvet ribbon while lace overlaid leotard slips. Other ballet-inspired shapes saw full tulle skirts jut out from scoop neck fitted bodices whose delicate spaghetti strap gave new grace to the collarbone.
Accessories spoke for themselves as thin studded headbands alluded to prima ballerinas of old, and asymmetric earrings turned the feather plumes featured throughout into face framing pops of color. Swarovski crystals sparkled along chokers and on the face of handbags, while the shimmer of pearls animated the Le 31 in an allusion to “drops of morning dew,” according to the show notes.
Like Giselle, the collection was both haunting and altogether captivating, making a case for sartorial storytelling. Playing off the show's dark romanticism in his silhouettes and accessories, Saab never lost the grace and the femininity of his signatures. If Saab has given us any indication, it’s that fall will be filled with movement, dark florals, and a little much-needed moodiness.