This Might Just Be Our Favorite Elie Saab Collection Ever

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It’s entirely a coincidence that, simultaneously, the kimono is a hot topic of conversation right now and Elie Saab has modernized it for his gorgeous Fall 2019 Couture collection. Thanks to Kim Kardashian’s new shapewear line that was originally supposed to be called ‘Kimono’ and then pulled after accusations of cultural appropriation, controversy has injected the garment back into the public conscious.

The kimono belongs to fashion as one of its most enduring and iconic designs, deriving from Japanese culture and becoming popularized after Japan opened its borders in the 1860s. With comfortable robe-like proportions and really wide sleeves, the kimono became a blank canvas on which an artist would render vibrant cherry blossoms, koi ponds, and other Japanese iconography using woodblock prints. But like all things in fashion, it is open to interpretation.

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

With East meets West as the show’s core theme, Saab explained his thinking in the notes, saying, “I was drawn to East Asia’s rich culture and, the more I let my mind dive into it, the more I explored imperial volumes within the collection, using signature touches that remain true to the maison.” The superlative craftsmanship of his ateliers and the East Asia influence proved to be an ideal marriage. 

The superlative craftsmanship of his ateliers and the East Asia influence proved to be an ideal marriage. 

A magnificent parade of kimonos, robes, and gowns walked the Elie Saab Fall 2019 Couture runway, casting a mesmerizing spell. It was fashion fantasy at its finest, as vivid interpretations of the kimono’s traditional woodblock prints presented in golden embroidery, and the traditional obi sash was swapped for wide belts embedded with metallic plates. While it was very much identifiable as a Saab collection due to its magnificent stitchwork, it was pleasing to see new shapes and more intricate volumes on his runway. There is nothing here that wouldn’t send even the most cynical fashion critic into fits of ecstasy.

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