Elie Saab launches menswear as part of autumn/winter haute couture 2023 in Paris

The show marks a new addition to the Lebanese designer's house

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The Beirut couturier Elie Saab has unveiled his latest collection at Paris Haute Couture Week and for the first time it includes menswear.

In a shift of direction, Saab folded eight menswear looks into his womenswear offering, widening his appeal and pushing his atelier to new heights.

Opening the show was a dramatic cutaway, feathered gown, quickly followed by a matching man's cape, in the same iridescent black and red feathers. Worn over a velvet tuxedo suit, not only was this the first menswear look on the Elie Saab couture runway, but it also set the tone for the elegantly bohemian looks that followed.

Billowing capes, languid shirts and even a single-breasted suit in gold all arrived cut to perfection, and covered in the dense handwork the house is known for. One cape was edged with embroidery made to look like snakeskin, while another was totally covered in matte beads, to resemble the bubbled skin of stingray.

As the women's looks swept past seemingly conjured from air and beading, another men's cape was finished with grand swirls of golden embroidery.

Any other season, and the audience would be gushing with praise for the women's collection unveiled, now imbued with a new, more sensual feel.

Saab's trademark silhouettes were softened with voluptuous collars, oversized bows and great puffed sleeves, and after starting in black, much of the collection was taken up with discreet nudes and golds that were so delicate and fragile looking, the beads and sequins seemingly floated across the models skin.

One corseted, figure-hugging dress in palest blue was given thick golden edges — and enormous sleeves — while a nude sheath dress had dense crystals that seemed to fall away as they got closer to the hem. Topped with a ruff of organza petals, it was was romantic and dreamy.

Ordinarily, the collection would have drawn deserved and endless praise, yet against the new men's collection, it feels destined to play second fiddle, even if temporarily.

Dresses that looked metallic turned out to be conjured from thousands of hand-applied sequins, while a white jumpsuit was fringed with trails of bugle beads, and a "lace" dress was in fact pieced from hand-stitched beads.

While Saab's skill at womenswear is beyond question, it was exciting to see that same hand-applied to menswear.

Saab has been crafting romantic, beautiful gowns for decades and has a devoted clientele all over the world. This new offering will speak to modern-day Lord Byrons, and those who appreciate beauty in all its guises. Elegant, richly embellished and exquisitely cut, this new take is fit for a prince.

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Updated: October 13, 2022, 10:14 AM