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PARIS, March 5, 2006 - Cold sunshine burst out for the first time in a week on Sunday morning, and it must have stirred the fashion crowd. Arriving early for the Elie Saab show were any number of VIPs making their own fashion statement. André Leon Talley, U.S. Vogue's Editor-at-large, came in a military style tunic embellished with medallions and carrying a sack overflowing with tufts of fur. Michael Roberts, Illustrator for the New Yorker, chose a knit herringbone cap and dark wool overcoat buttoned up to his neck, making him look like an MI5 agent traveling incognito. Then there was the dowager of Middle Eastern descent who tucked the folds of her unctuous mink ever so carefully to avoid the wheels of her chair.

Saab's models came down a red catwalk, which might make you think of a red carpet, which in turn might make you think of LA and the Oscars held later in the day. But the pieces shown in Paris were void of the normal flash, paired down to workable and wearable dresses. One German editor stuttered to give an interview in English afterward saying it was the first time he could enjoy an Elie Saab show without the distraction of sequin overkill. Whatever - it worked.

There were plenty of little black dresses to be found, some fixed with lace, others pinned with white flowers, still others ornamented with velvet here and there. A few blouses were even given a good dusting of sparkling sequin dust. Clouds of nude chiffon were overlaid with black leaf embroidery, and red was used to offset the heavily black palette. There was still enough glitter in the folds of one evening gown to cause a model to slip.

This was the best work yet from Elie Saab, and he's evidently decided that the old proverb rings true - less is more.


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