Elie Saab unveils new exclusive haute couture collection dedicated to Beirut
Elie Saab has unveiled an exclusive new haute couture collection dedicated to his native city and entitled Beirut: The Sacred Source, as the couturier responds aesthetically to the latest crisis in Lebanon.
The Phoenician couturier presented his latest collection online in an elegiac video; along with a photo shoot; a series of fantastical images of models shot in a sylvan setting, with the clothes reflected in a giant mirrored structure located in the woods.
“After the explosion I realize that Beirut needed every one of us, all the Lebanese who had success around the world and any influence anywhere, to help our country to create beauty again. We are fed up here just talking about the explosion. We need to remind ourselves that Beirut is a one the most beautiful places in the world to live,” said Saab in a What’s App call from his studio in Beirut.
The shooting was completed in late August in the mountains of Faqra, where the ruins of the ancient Roman Temple of Adonis is located. Photographer Patrick Sawaya captured the graceful fashion moment, while film director Mounir Akl, lensed the entrancing seven-minute video. Akl’s short film Submarine was on the official selection of the 69th Cannes Film Festival.
In the video clip, the cast slowly emerges from the mirrored arches, and marches through the woods almost surprised that nature is so verdant and abundant. Dressed like sylvan divinities, the model glide by in delicate blues and blush pink muslins that glisten in the slanted late afternoon sunlight. Silk threads gleam in morning mist, as the girls play hide and seek in organza dresses or embroidered tulle gowns amid the pine and cedar trees. Elie cuts with a more organic shape and loser silhouettes, all the way to the iridescent bride who shimmers in a gentle armor of silver.
“In the film, each girl is Beirut. While the collection is a present to each girl to wear something beautiful in Beirut. Our city loves beauty and beauty,” stressed Saab.
Like many designers, Saab will not stage a physical runway show during the upcoming Paris Fashion Week. But he will come to Paris with his new ready-to-wear collection his at French headquarters, presenting the collection on an appointment basis.
Saab was in his office in central Beirut on August 4 at the moment of the gigantic explosion that killed 170 people and left much of the Lebanese capital in ruins. While his own Ottoman style mansion in the Gemmayzé district located closer to the port was destroyed.
“My office is not so far from the center of the blast. While my own ancient home was completely devastated. Yes, we can restore our building. In 10 days we begin the construction work. But it will be a great deal of work,” added Saab, whose mansion was part of the extended city center estate of Lady Cochrane, the celebrated Irish-Lebanese philanthropist who died aged 98, four weeks after the explosion had wrecked her famed historic home, Sursock Palace.
“Lady Cochrane was a visionary woman. This was a lady who did so much for our country; who conserved so many ancient houses. She left us after Sursock was very badly damaged. She merited a great funeral but instead it was quiet affair with the children. She is greatly missed,” lamented Saab.
Saab – who has dressed multiple queens; princesses; duchesses; first ladies; movie stars and even an Oscar winner when she accepted her award, Halle Berry in 2022 - had been hunkering down in his native city ever since the beginning of lockdown, returning there after showing his last ready-to-wear collection in Paris in March. Taking the opportunity of the pandemic for a few months of reflection.
“At the very beginning I said we had to find something positive in the Covid experience. I meant we can take time for ourselves to think and to go back to the essential parts of life. To live more simply like our grandparents,” explained Saab. Who has just before a grandfather himself. A week ago his eldest son Elie Junior and daughter-in-law Christina were blessed by the birth of a baby girl, named Sophia.
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