Last day of Paris shows is good, bad and ugly

By Jenny Barchfield

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 5 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

The Lebanese designer is such a reliable purveyor of the dramatic, va-va-voom gowns that — with their curve-hugging shapes and generous sprinkling of sequins — are the bread and butter of black tie events, it's become nearly impossible to imagine one without him.

Critics lambast Saab as boring, saying his work remains static. That's true in a way, but it's also beside the point, as Saab has never claimed to be fashion-forward.

He's successful because his gowns tap a wellspring of timeless, classic glamour that makes women feel beautiful and sexy. Celebrities and civilians alike choose Saab for when they need to look like a million dollars — simply because he does make them look like a million dollars, season after season.

The same cannot be said, however, for other more fashion-forward labels.

So it was no surprise that for spring-summer, Saab stuck to staples like belted sheath dresses for day and sequin-covered gowns with long fluttering skirts for the evening.

All that changed, really, was the color palette: mustardy yellow, or a vibrant emerald that looked like it was straight out of Oz or a rich shade halfway between aubergine and midnight blue.

The colors were beautiful and so were the dresses.

Unsurprisingly, there were no surprises from Saab, and that's exactly the way his clients like it.


Arzu Kaprol, the Turkish designer whose Paris debut last March provided the season's unintentional comic relief, was back with a more polished display — this time, without either the audience or models breaking into laughter.

The clothes in the spring-summer collection were basically hard-edged clubbing gear, short sheath dresses and sharp-shouldered jackets in body-hugging fabrics. Much of the looks felt derivative, with precious little to distinguish them from similar sex-drenched going-out gear that floods catwalks and high streets worldwide.

But still, you could see a certain type of girl buying and wearing them — something that cannot be said of many of the Paris collections, which are utterly removed from women's reality.

Plus, there were a few standout pieces, like an ivory silk blouse with sleeves made out of little rolled tubes of fabric which had a vaguely Ottoman feel.

Last season, high-profile Canadian model Jessica Stam lost it on the runway when she had to don a giant plastic egg that looked like it had been home to the world's largest pair of pantyhose — and in truth it would have been impossible not to crack a smile.

But Stam continued to smirk away this season, shooting a sideways glance at a friend in the audience and laughing, even though there was nothing funny in Kaprol's much-improved follow-up effort Wednesday.

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