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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

#SuzyCouture Elie Saab: Egyptian Dreaming

The Lebanese designer looked at the Levant and the glory days of Cairo as inspiration for a fine and delicately judged show

31 Января 2017

“Egypt — in its great days — when everyone elegant was there," said Elie Saab, thinking of the boom days in the old Levant and including subtle signs and symbols of more ancient times.

With lacy patterns and the deep blue and gold famously seen on Tutankhamun's death mask, the Lebanese designer used the Parisian side of his life to give a sophisticated touch to this spring/summer 2017 haute couture collection.

In a blue flared dress with gold bracelets spiralling up the wrist, or the blue evil eyes embedded in the palest pink-gold silk, the models looked sophisticated but fresh. And this season, the sparkles were sprinkled with discretion.

Glittering shoulder pieces or crossed straps gave a whiff of novelty to the designer's familiar sparkly embroidered chiffon. Similar effects were worked into draped bodices and the changes added up to a slight but grateful move away from event gowns.

None of the Egyptian-inspired clothes looked like parodies and there were no Nefertiti headdresses. But Saab has been stepping out recently from his comfort zone of glam gowns and red carpet dressing.

Last season, he looked at the migrants to New York in the 1930s and used that as inspiration. Previously, he explored a Proustian memory of his own beginnings in Beirut, where he still has handwork couture studios.

This show drew just the right balance from the past — from ancient history to 20th and 21st century style. The motifs that were worked as embroideries were so subtle that probably only some of his clients will recognise them.

But I like the idea of Saab looking at the dreamscape of his world in the past, giving originality and depth to his work.

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