The Light of Now
ELIE SAAB invites you to discover its new magazine
The Way of the Waist
The waist declares the statement of the feminine silhouette; the center of a woman’s movement, the point from where a designer begins his art. “It is the body that dictates, not the pencil,” Elie Saab has described.
Pantsuits conform to the body with easy definition, grosgrain ribbons trim the seams in architectural lines to align shoulder and waist with rigor, and most looks are signed with a thin line belt in the ELIE SAAB Ready-to-Wear Spring Summer 2014 Collection.
The evolution of European fashion is told by the waistline. In the mid-1800s, the corset reigned supreme with a ‘taille de guêpe’ or ‘wasp waist’ defining the ideal, which was achieved through corsetry made of whalebone or bodice lacing that serrated the waist from the garments’ interior. Around 1900, couturiers Nicole Groult, Paul Poiret and Madeleine Vionnet followed the natural line of the waist in their designs, shifting the trend entirely.
Today, a woman’s natural waistline is the point of origin of Elie Saab’s design. It dictates a dress’s equilibrium and its volumes as the most delicate yet definitive contour in fashion. And so is the way of the waist, a curve variably refined, respected and elegantly rendered.
MEET AMBRA MEDDA :
A RAINBOW OF LIGHT
As the daughter of celebrated gallerist Giuliana Medda, one could say that Ambra Medda was born into the biz, having grown up in marketplaces, attending art openings and auction previews.
Geometric Mirror - Elizabeth Garouste
Beauty Mirror in Silver - Michael Anastassiades
ETSHA WEAVERS - Peter Mabeo
Model 2084 Chandelier - Gino Sarfatti
Tip of the Tongue - Michael Anastassiades
After studying Asian art, Chinese archaeology and Chinese language in London, Ambra moved to New York to become an art dealer, quickly heading south to Miami where she co-founded the prestigious Design Miami salon in 2005. As director, she saw it grow over six fruitful years until departing in 2010. She's not stopped moving, with 2013 bearing the fruits of Medda's latest project - an international, digital design hub she dubbed L'Arco Baleno, which she heads up with CEO Oliver Weyergraf and a committee of international heavyweights from Pharrell Williams to art director Patrick Li and industrial designer Tom Dixon. The Light of Now sat down with Ambra to talk light, and love of design.
Tell us about L'Arco Baleno, the rainbow...
I wanted a name that was very joyful. I felt like our world needed a jolt of light and the rainbow stands for design in its entire spectrum. We launched the site in July last year – it is both commerce and culture dedicated to design, a curated collection of crafts and collectible pieces with a lot of editorial, and within the stories you can buy pieces that are related to them. We like to talk to emerging designers, collectors and curators to frame what is happening today and to also reach back into the past to put our collection into context.
And how would you describe your design philosophy?
I think I am always looking for quality. When you are exposed to so much, you develop a sense of what you do and don't like. I'm quite curious and I think I'm very open-minded – I think you can't get too attached to a specific flavor or style. You have to look at things and give them time, and look into them a little bit deeper so as not to get stuck in one aesthetic.
What design material come to mind when you think of light?
For L'Arco Baleno, lighting and glassware are very popular, particularly in America. Glassware is like jeans; it never goes out of style! Light and glass are so connected; looking at glass through light is such a magical experience.
What associations come to mind when you think particularly of the designs of ELIE SAAB?
Three words: extraordinary, feminine, and craftsmanship.
So, where to next?
Botswana! I'm working with Peter Mabeo who works with furniture, who is going to introduce me to some craftspeople, weavers in particular, as I am going to develop some baskets with them. I have ventured into a world that is very new to me, and I am very open for it to take on new and exciting avenues.
moments of light
A WINDOW INTO MORNING
with L’Eau Couture
with the words of the Lebanese author and artist Kahlil Gibran :
and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things
the heart finds its morning and is refreshed
THE JOURNEY OF
A WEDDING DRESS
An expression of a woman made sublime begins in black and white. An ideal, a gesture, a handmade sketch in black ink that is then pinned with fabric and embroidery samples. It becomes patterns, then volumes, then the finest of details and perfect fit across 800 to 1000 hours of work comprising the realization of a haute couture wedding gown. Follow its journey – from an idea to an illuminated expression.
From Inspiration to Dimension
Two pattern makers translate a pen-and-paper sketch to a life-size dimension, anticipating a dress’s movement, precision and balance.
Texture – luscious silk organza, the finest lace, mousseline, shantung and tulle are some of the materials chosen in delicate, shaded hues reflecting the nuances of daylight.
Detail – one dress can occupy a team of embroiderers at their looms for three months, as they adorn delicate materials with paillettes, pearls, flowers in relief and cabochons gemstones.
The model is chosen; the wedding gown is fitted to her silhouette. On the day of the Spring Summer 2014 Haute Couture fashion show in Paris, every detail is verified for an overall sense of exalted femininity and delicate brilliance. The day has arrived; she assumes her moment and steps into the light…
View the ELIE SAAB Spring Summer 2014 Haute Couture fashion show here
new & now
STARS ON HIGH
IN HONG KONG
This luminous silver-grey, fully-embroidered gown, from the ELIE SAAB Fall-Winter 2012/2013 Ready-to-Wear collection, magnified Celine Dion’s star presence on stage, as she received her award at the BAMBI 2012 ceremony.
This elegant Prussian-blue, silk chiffon gown, from the ELIE SAAB Pre-Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear collection, was worn by ZHANG ZIYI at Elton John’s exclusive Oscar Viewing Party in Los Angeles.
This fully-embroidered, plum evening gown, from the ELIE SAAB Fall-Winter 2011/2012 Ready-to-Wear collection, was worn by SHU QI at the prestigious opening of the Piaget flagship boutique in Hong Kong.
This romantic, nude crepe georgette gown, from the ELIE SAAB Spring-Summer 2010 Ready-to-Wear collection, was worn by FAN BINGBING at the glamourous opening of Cartier’s flagship store in Hong Kong. The corsetry and pleating of this dress sublimed her silhouette.
ELIE SAAB presents a constellation of gowns on high, to tell the tale of stars come out to play.
Like poetic muses suspended above, eleven iconic ELIE SAAB red carpet gowns are on exhibition until April 30th, 2014 within the central atrium of Hong Kong’s Lee Gardens Mall, the city’s central shopping destination where ELIE SAAB recently opened a boutique.
In a breathtaking arrangement, the gowns are positioned at a height of over 15 meters, in concentric circles and in syncopated rhythm across three levels. This dramatic presentation suits the former life of these sensational pieces, which have appeared on the red carpet with actresses and performers such as Shu Qi, Sarah Jessica Parker, Fan BingBing, Celine Dion and Michele Yeoh; the gowns have travelled all the way from Beirut, Paris and Los Angeles to appear here, and in due time for the Hong Kong Film Festival running March 24th to April 7th, 2014.
Each gown is presented with its original studio sketch describing its exact moment in the spotlight. From the seductive silk chiffon gown with black cobweb lace worn by supermodel Anja Rubik, the face of ELIE SAAB Le parfum, at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, to the dashing red gown of Taylor Swift while receiving the Woman of the Year award at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards, these are the actual dresses worn by the celebrities. And here they are on high, in their regal reach to the skies.
Until April 30th.
33 Hysan Ave, Hong Kong
To coincide with the exhibition, a collection of eleven limited edition ready-to-wear pieces from the Spring Summer 2014 runway is available in the Lee Gardens boutique exclusively at this time.
new & now
STYLE & SUBSTANCE
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
AT THE OSCARS
Two dramatic ELIE SAAB gowns illuminated the radiant, feminine talent of actress Angelina Jolie and singer Pink at the 86th Academy Awards ceremony on March 2nd, 2014 in Hollywood.
Angelina Jolie evoked the figure of a classical goddess, appearing in a long-sleeve tulle gown, intricately embroidered with paillettes and crystals descending like a sun shower of brilliant rain. With true grace, she escorted Sidney Poitier for the presentation of the Best Actor award. Though Jolie has lately favored darker ensembles and, in 2014, interprets Disney’s most iconic female villain in the film ‘Maleficent’, the actress appeared nothing of the sort in this ensemble of delicacy and elegance, qualities more characteristic of her real-life role as mother to six children and a dedicated humanitarian. This comprises a decade of work as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, and the founding of at least eleven schools across Asia through the Jolie–Pitt Foundation.
At the heart of the ceremony’s proceedings, Pink performed Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from the 1939 Oscar-winning film The Wizard of Oz. She paid tribute to Dorothy’s magical slippers with a long, sparkling ruby red gown embroidered with silk thread and sequins. The Grammy Award-winning singer’s performance finished with a standing ovation.
Two women in the spotlight, both for their style and substance; and two haute couture gowns delivering their talent in sparkling, show-stopping form.
There is romance in the darkness – silk printed with shadowy, wilting blooms. Black and blush pink rising triumphantly from forest green and wine tones. A series of 1950s and 60s inspired silhouettes are with infused with movement, ease and opulence for the ELIE SAAB Ready-to-Wear Autumn Winter 2014-2015 Collection.
The iconic “Color Field” paintings of American painter Mark Rothko (1903 – 1970) were the starting point for the collection, with their hues that fade into one another in magnetic associations. The colors themselves are the figurative focus of Rothko’s works, as his rich chromatic fields evoke emotions by their many layered dimension; it is not exactly clear where one color begins and where another ends, before fading into black.
The mysterious boundary between volume, color and texture is equally elusive in the collection: a dégradé shade upon a gold-framed mink clutch, a black fox coat fading into mineral green, or the waist of a cocktail dress pronounced in a gradient from black to pale rose.
In a final touch, Rothko’s signature blocks of multi-dimensional color are sublimated as long, rectilinear crystal pendants, as centrepieces of cinched belts, and in the jewel-toned adornment of handbags in exotic leather. They altogether articulate a new vocabulary of ELIE SAAB accessories that speaks in the tone of the season, a shaded opulence that finds vivid illumination in the dimensions and the details.
View the Autumn Winter 2014-2015 Ready-to-Wear Collection at ELIESAAB.com
Mark Rothko No. 12 (Black on Dark Sienna on Purple), 1960
© The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
an invitation to discover its new fragrance L'Eau Couture
within a universe of floral essences, freshness and refinement.
A TRIO OF TALENTS
A fashion show is a meeting of minds. Together, they craft a synergy of creative elements producing moments of magic. We talk with three creative talents working closely with Elie Saab in the preparation of the Ready-to-Wear Autumn Winter 2014-2015 fashion show, following them to the tempo of the pre-show process.
Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou, Stylist
Friday 4pm. Three days before the show.
A supreme sense of order reigns over the studio at the ELIE SAAB Parisian headquarters. London-based Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou styles a constant stream of models – from the looks they wear, the way they walk, the attitude they emit, the accessories that adorn them. Known in the industry as much for her precision as for her vibrant personality, nothing gets past Sophia's razor-sharp instinct for what works, in the details as well as the coherent whole.
"In slithers of chiffon against velvet there is transparency with a very dense chalkiness," Sophia explains. "A print of destroyed, dark flowers reinforces a certain moodiness. There are full dresses in degradé velvet while panels create density. It cultivates the richness, the sumptuous. Like bitter chocolate."
Tom Pecheux, Make-up Artist
Saturday 11am. Two days before the show.
In a room dedicated solely to hair and makeup tests, the Paris-based Tom Pecheux and his team are in the process of crafting the perfect contrast: a pale blush lip and a strong, sultry style around the eye. It is a deft reinterpretation of the regal emerald hue found throughout the collection.
"Rothko's paintings are often muted. Our green is mixed with grey and taupe, so that is not too green," notes the renowned make-up artist with a thirty-year career to his name. "For me, the eyes are like diamonds, which illuminate the face."
Luigi Murenu, Hair Stylist
Sunday 4pm. One day before the show
Luigi Murenu arrives in sprightly form, after a string of shows in Milan and still more to come in Paris. It's his first season working with ELIE SAAB, and while the make-up corresponds to the collection's color palette, the hairstyle is about an attitude. The Italian talent has in mind the freedom of wild horses' manes, of hair floating in the breeze.
"I want hair to look fresh, and healthy – so that it flies," he explains. This means styling that is middle-parted, ironed flat, and impeccably streamlined.
Monday 4pm. The day of the show.
Each creative talent takes their place amidst the organized frenzy that is the backstage buzz. In a moment of creative orchestration, the meticulous preparations come together. The accessories are in hand, the hair in perfect place and fingernails pristine like emerald jewels, before the models go forth to meet the photographers' flashes.
new & now
LIVE FROM PARIS
ready-to-wear autumn/winter 2014-2015
A myriad of worlds unite in 'The Promise of Spring', the Spring Summer 2014 Haute Couture Collection by ELIE SAAB inspired by (and named after) the work of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema The Roses of Heliogabalus, 1888 - @ Studio Sébert Photographe
Alma-Tadema was a 19th century Dutch painter loved by the British court, whose time at the Antwerp Royal Academy anointed his style with a Flemish touch. Like the paintings themselves, a sequence of shaded silk gowns made in the ELIE SAAB ateliers masterfully capture Alma-Tadema's pastel lightness, their cinched or empire-line silhouettes underscored by a dark and romantic chiaroscuro, in ombré gradients and floral beadwork.
In particular, the 1888 canvas entitled 'The Roses of Heliogabalus' becomes a stunning focal point in both the color palette and textural depth of the entire collection, on gowns with multi-dimensional embroideries of bugle beading, sequins and delicate tulle flowers applied to tulle or silk satin in colors from inky black to palest hydrangea blue, lilac and rose d'or. Its sky too is echoed in the fashion show's meticulous light display, flooded with soft, blue-hued Mediterranean sunlight.
The painting's scenario depicts the court of Rome's young Emperor Heliogabalus, over which Alma-Tadema's delicate hand accented over two thousand rose petals across the classically inspired tableau.
It is said that the artist, working in London at the time, had roses shipped from the French Riviera in the winter to capture their fragile nuances with the utmost precision, in a distinct parallel with a dress's journey from the ELIE SAAB ateliers in Beirut to the défilé in Paris.
Showing in Paris during Haute Couture Week as a part of the exhibition 'Désir et Volupté' at the Jacquemart-André Museum, the works of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema are on display at the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome until June 5th, 2014. They will travel to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid from June 23rd to October 5th, before the tour culminates at Leighton House Museum in London later this year.
Backstage energy is intoxicating. Just minutes before the Spring Summer 2014 Haute Couture Collection hits the défilé, the final touches are made — from the last sewn hem to the delicate touch of the models' shadowed eyes and rose petal lips.
Front stage, editors and friends of the House mingle, find their seats and face the front row flashes. Backstage, meanwhile, is buzzing with hundreds of hands in the process of refining perfection.
Expert seamstresses assure every hem is in place with intense concentration. Each model has her dresser to assist her with her haute couture jewel, fitted only for her. Backstage photographers' flashes spark the energy of a fleet of hair stylists and make-up artists, overseen by Orlando Pita and Tom Pecheaux respectively, with their deft hands and gifted eye for form and color. Elie Saab assures that the final result is exactly as he imagined it.
There is calm despite the anticipation, teamwork, and intensity of concentration at play. This calm allows moments of beauty to emerge — when the perfect profile can be captured, when a willow of fabric becomes sublime, when beauty takes its pause before finally entering into the light...
moments of light
Few words can capture the essence of resplendent white light. Sometimes it is best to rely on the nuances of translation to describe such intensity in the intangible.
"It's when the sun is almost gold, or even white. It's called Noor. Noor means light in Arabic. It's both white and colorful, as if gold were glowing so brightly, it is almost white..."
So describes Francis Kurkdjian, leading French perfumer and the "nose" behind ELIE SAAB perfumes. He describes a unique kind of light that is a mixture of warm gold and pure white; white is at the same time the reflection of all light and the presence of all colors.
Le Parfum, ELIE SAAB's first elixir, is an "Ode to Light". Francis Kurkdjian harmonized a woody base with top notes of sun-kissed orange blossom and honey rose to extend the perfume toward this kaleidoscopic play of light, this exceptional incandescence.
The seductive power of light on our moods, our memories and imaginations is inestimable — especially when it is of such intensity that it becomes ethereal, beyond the domain of words, descriptions, and logic.
"I didn't have images," recounts Francis Kurkdjian about the creative process behind his work on Le Parfum. "I had sensations. It was sensations of femininity, colors — of brightness..."
And so began his Ode to Light...
FORGED IN FIRE
Fire crafts crystalline perfection. It is heat's intensity that yields the cool, transparent surface of the radiant geometric jewel that is the ELIE SAAB Le Parfum bottle.
To craft its unique proportions, exceptional savoir-faire and technical prowess were essential. Firstly, its solidity — with a cubical base expanding into angular volumes, the sheer weight and thickness of glass is rarely produced at such a scale. Secondly, a signature detail — the interior receptacle for the perfume liquid is in the shape of a drop. The contrast between structure and softness, which Elie Saab works in his every design, must be translated into translucent glass.
ELIE SAAB chose to work with Verreries Brosse, a French glass manufacturer with over 250 years of history. France is renowned for its perfume as well as its artisanal glass production and Verreries Brosse is deeply anchored in both of these traditions having created the first bottle for Chanel N°5. Today, the manufacturer is still known to forge some of the most crystalline, flawless perfume glass available.
Its starts as silica, a sand-like material heated to 1000 degrees Celsius into a molten liquid, viscous enough to be given its mold. The glass hardens as temperatures drop to 300 degrees. Now perfectly formed but not yet refined.
Passed under a line of fire, similar to the flame finishing a "crème brûlée", and the exterior of the glass is resurfaced - now impeccably smooth, purified and brilliant in shine.
Both refractive and reflective of light, the bottle of ELIE SAAB Le Parfum is a little piece of crystal clear perfection, forged in the intensity of the blaze.
new & now
THE PURSUIT OF PURITY
ELIE SAAB x EVIAN
Elie Saab, who loves design in all of its forms, distills the motif of lace into a modern interpretation of purity for the Limited Edition ELIE SAAB Evian bottle.
Lace is an intricate, somewhat classic, embellishment adorning the gloves, collars and traditional wedding veils of many a European lady throughout the centuries. Elie Saab's representation of lace was to be light, modern, and nearly transparent. It is a rarified version of what we know lace to be — its intricacy becomes open, more aerated in pattern; its distinctive, flowing lines are in outline. They are figurative yet abstract.
While it is tempting to compare the Evian bottle to the body of a women, with its curves a blank canvas for the designs of Elie Saab, rather consider the opposite: that the bottle's cool, clean glass conveys a certain strength in its structure, even evoking the dominating French Alps. Contrast this with the lace motif upon it - feminine, delicate and a perennial symbol of purity.
The pristine water inside becomes the focus — not the lace, nor the bottle but the purity that all of these element sublimate. It is a pursuit of perfection, with purity as the common ideal.
PALACE OF VERSAILLES
French industrial designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec unveil Versailles's first permanent contemporary artwork, a fluid crystal chandelier strung from the Gabriel Staircase, which leads to the King's 'Grands Appartements'.
The 17th century Palace of Versailles outside of Paris is a bastion of baroque architecture, with its grandiose salons and sprawling gardens. Its main staircase lacked any focal point until 2013 when the Gabriel Chandelier was installed, draped from the ceiling like a necklace of celestial light.
Threaded around a concealed central axis, the 12-meter Gabriel Chandelier consists of over five hundred Swarovski 'Caillou' crystal pieces embedded with LEDs to emit a constant, diffuse light. "Each of these pieces thus possesses its own lighting system which is far more complex than a bulb,"" explain the Bouroullec brothers.
"It is quite magical and surprising because one cannot truly grasp how light is contained within this thread of crystal."
Pondering the qualities of crystal as a material, they considered the hours of daylight, too. "The materiality of the chandelier changes totally when the Gabriel Staircase is flooded with daylight, compared to when it is lit up at night. Crystal is synonymous with Versailles. Historically, all the chandeliers at Versailles were made with this material, ensuring a link between past and present. Crystal is a living material, and new technology allows it to be used in radically different ways."
While linking the material aspect directly to Versailles's heritage, it was in the sinuous, asymmetrical structure that the Bouroullec brothers made their contemporary statement:
"The form naturally found its line from gravity... twists of crystal suspended from four points on the ceiling and tracing loops that subdivide into organic trees. In the end its shape arrived almost naturally."
Entranced by the Gabriel Chandelier and fascinated by Ronan and Erwan's soft balance of technical and organic beauty, The Light of Now challenged the brothers to reflect upon the unique design vernacular of ELIE SAAB. Their response, crystal clear: "To us, the house of ELIE SAAB is three things: Delicate, vaporous — and bright."
THE MAKING OF
A MASTER CRAFTSMAN
...What lies behind the tranquil smile of the 'Couturier of Happiness', who designs more than seven hundred haute couture dresses a year, employs hundreds of people, then, when you look at him in awe, says: 'It's only the beginning'...?
So recounts author Janie Samet, the iconic French editor who has spent over 50 years documenting Parisian haute couture, in the first comprehensive book dedicated to Elie Saab's life and work. It begins with a closer look into his early beginnings and the main elements that have formed the ELIE SAAB magic along the way and throughout his thirty years in haute couture.
With visuals from the archives of ELIE SAAB as well as from the private archives of Elie Saab himself, other stunning photographs capture how his work as been brought to life by models, celebrities and princesses over the decades. Chapters include: Haute Couture: Dresses as Jewels, A Master Craftsman as well as Ready-to-Wear, Exceptional Moments, Princesses and Brides, Le Parfum and, of course, The Future...
Available to purchase in select ELIE SAAB boutiques, at Assouline stores and at www.assouline.com
KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
Set to be a contributor to The Light of Now, Catherine Kallon is renowned for one, intense focus: who's wearing what. Little gets past the attention and critique of this London-based blogger, creator of 'Red Carpet Fashion Awards'. In their 2010 'Power of Fashion Issue', American VOGUE named her one of the nine most influential fashion bloggers alongside the likes of Garance Doré, BryanBoy and Tommy Ton.
When it concerns red carpet fashion, Catherine Kallon's readers trust her accuracy, voice and honesty. The fashion industry at large has caught on to her influence and dedicated readership; she herself is now often invited to red carpet events and journalists and stylists regularly refer to the rich content on her blog. Catherine Kallon stopped by ELIE SAAB headquarters in Paris to discuss the context to her vigilante approach, and the origins of her genuine passion.
Do you go to many shows during Fashion Week?
When it is awards season I try to cut back as I have made a conscious decision to give the red carpet a priority. My readers want to know who is going to wear what, and what my opinion is; they come to my website because I am considered the authority on the red carpet.
How would you define your blogging style?
I try to engage the audience. “The belt's missing, the belt was on the runway – do you think she should have worn it?” It is very important because you want them to feel that their opinion counts.
Do you remember the first time you became aware of ELIE SAAB?
I think it was the same time as everyone else, when Halle Berry wore that ELIE SAAB gown to the Oscars in 2002. It was such a monumental occasion for everyone involved – Elie Saab himself and Halle Berry. This is now part of red carpet history.
What's an average day for you during awards season?
I get up early and look through all the picture agencies, write and publish throughout the day. Sometimes I cannot wait for the event to come around. I'm literally like a child on Christmas Eve waiting for that gift to be unwrapped, pure adrenaline and excitement. I might put out a tweet – “who do you think is going to wear what?” and the minute that first picture hits Getty...I start getting really excited. I have always been this way; that's why I started a blog in the first place, because I love it.
Sounds like a genuine passion.
I remember when I was younger I would beg my mother to let me stay up to watch the Oscars because I loved seeing the gowns. That feeling I had at eight years old I still have now at 38 years old, and I hope it never leaves me.
moments of light
A woman is sublime when descending a stairwell, the perfect frame in which to view her. Her descent is a moment when several seconds slip into eternity, suspended within a private sense of time.
It is a moment when woman, dress, movement, light and architecture become one ephemeral instant of grace. There is no more perfect frame for a woman than the wrought iron railings of Paris, a signature of the
legendary Baron Haussmann who styled much of Paris's order and beauty as we know it today. At the ELIE SAAB headquarters, these wrought iron railings outline the 2014 Pre-Fall Collection.
Black and gold, and with lyrical turns, wrought iron railings are the silent witnesses to history gone, and history to be made by the women who glide their hands along them.
History is filled with the patter of silk slippers going down stairs