PARIS, Jul 10, 2002/ — Along with Elie Saab, Lebanese designer Georges Chakra is one of a new breed of media-savvy Middle Eastern designers with huge domestic businesses and an ever-growing client list.
But while Saab’s work has adapted easily to the Western world – Hale Berry’s Oscar dress being the obvious example – Chakra may have a little more trouble attracting a Hollywood audience.
The show Chakra presented Monday at the Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs, in a wing of the Louvre, proved beyond a doubt that the man can cut a mean evening dress.
It also established that he has an accomplished and professional atelier behind him.
Unfortunately, the show also testified that when it comes to trimmings and embellishment, Chakra just can’t stop.
Chakra’s specialty is eveningwear of the flaring chiffon sheath kind.
He is less sure of himself when it comes to daywear but is fortunate in the fact that most of his daytime offerings could easily be worn to the most glamorous of dinners.
A perfectly cut sleeveless pinstripe pantsuit had its simplicity marred by the addition of a cleverly attached but ugly pleated black leather scarf.
And a short ‘n’ sexy black velvet dress with chevron piecing didn’t need more chevron motifs in black and white fur at the raised collar.
A raw-edged gathered suede top was beautiful for a hot young thing, but corsets in rippling caramel leather looked tacky.
Great, and almost out of character, were two blanket coats, especially one in natural sisal color with turquoise blanket stitch and flower embroidery.
But it’s in eveningwear that Chakra’s talent shows its best and worst faces.
A delicate vest top composed entirely of strings of beads and worn with a flowing skirt of ombré chiffon was airy perfection until one noticed the ugly beaded tracery on a sheer bodice underneath.
Likewise, a simple sheath entirely covered in mother-of-pearl sequins didn’t need distracting arabesques at the hem jarring the slick effect.
The moral is this: Sometimes a dress doesn’t need more detail.
Chakra’s cutting skills are excellent and the technique very well realized.
So it’s a shame that the designer channels his skill into clothes that tend to have the over-enthusiastic, over-embellished fripperies of a First Holy Communion dress.
He probably doesn’t have to worry about dressing the wealthy mavens of Europe and America at this stage, but if he could just rein in the excesses and shiny fabrics, a lot more women would surely be beating a path to his door.
Photos courtesy of Georges Chakra
Paris Haute Couture Fall 2002