If further proof were needed that this season marks a shift away from runways filled with showy outfits towards something altogether more practical, look no further than the Elie Saab show that unfurled on Saturday at Paris Fashion Week.
The Lebanese designer, known for his showstopping red carpet gowns — made from miles of chiffon and draped with an expert hand — still trotted out flowy dresses, but now broken with separates, coats and even puffer jackets (at Saab!) that announced a new era of pragmatism.
And it worked. An immensely wearable, downscaled collection, it was brimming with crisp, elegant separates. The show opened with a single-breast trouser suit and silk blouse, scattered with flowers that started as a necklace before spreading over the shoulders, and was soon followed by another trousered look, now under a quilted great coat, discreetly stitched in the house monogram.
The first of two puffer coats appeared as look 6, worn with wide-leg trousers, while look 10 was a beautifully simple, shrunken button top and trousers, in gleaming silk.
A strapless, sweetheart neck midi dress appeared worn with tall black boots, while a black wool trench coat sported the same cut-out lace detailing around the hem. More lace arrived, this time as a dress worn with the second puffer jacket, now with great, faux fur sleeves.
A full-sleeved blouse in cream — with cut-out work around the neck — was worn with high-waisted cream trousers, and a pleat fan mini dress in eye-popping chartreuse appeared as the embodiment of the new practicality, here worn with a black long-sleeved top. For look 52, Saab offered another long-sleeved top — an intarsia jumper — tucked into an elegantly full taffeta skirt, while look 53 welcomed a new periwinkle blue with a trouser suit and contrasting collar.
Of course, no Saab outing would be complete without the signature gowns, and there was plenty of choice for the diehard devotees. Shifting from barely-there tulle with a cascade of flowers, to a dramatic hooded cape in rich mulberry, to belted looks in overscaled black lace.
With decades of experience creating such looks, there is a reason why these glamourous gowns are Saab's signature, but the parade of laid-back, effortless day looks were the true stars of this show.