PARIS, Jul 3, 2007/ FW/ — There are various inconsistencies in the Paris calendar of haute couture. At a moment when haute couture appears to be lesser every season, especially when the catwalks are opening up on the fall season which has, for decades now, sold less pieces than the summer collections for this higher end of the fashion market, one can hardly understand why Georges Chakra has not been elected an ‘invited’ member of the Week especially after proposing a brilliant presentation last season.
Is it French protectionism that is keeping him in the off calendar? Is it the presence of another Lebanese house among the “correspondent” members? Is it an ultimate test before being admitted among the official guests? Probably a bit of all three reasons, but none other, as the originality and craftsmanship of the design house based in Jal-El-Dib, Lebanon, has been unquestioned for some seasons now.
Rejuvenating the couture customer has certainly been one of the goals of Georges Chakra, especially in his last collection for spring. For this fall season, the Lebanese designer is also exploring with success, the use of innovative materials and succeeds in his research to ally the requests of his clientele who demand shiny pieces with the lustre of technology and renewed shapes.
Using plastic is not easy and many a couturier has tried with more or less success to do so before. With his stripes of glittering metallic looking plastic, Georges Chakra manages to create movement and to look resolutely contemporary.
Volume is obtained by folding the elongated plastic bands, the semi-rigid characteristics of which do create soft loops around the waistline for instance in a wonderful biased corset.
The same techno effect is obtained by cutting the plastic fabric in squares of rectangles which allow the garment to move with the body without losing its vinyl reflections: the result is clever, audacious, striking.
As opposed to the silhouettes proposed for last season, the collection hits the right proportion of baby doll dresses and evening gowns, a more realistic percentage of sellable items for a more traditional market who is nevertheless looking for creativity. The embroidered crystal used in some pieces certainly appeals to that market, especially when executed in the pattern of peacock spectacular feathers on a green evening dress in light green silk satin.
But the long sheaths are not all sparklingly shiny, they also play delicately on matte oppositions, as for instance in the wonderful skirt in snow white satin hand painted with a black floral pattern, or reveal a discreet quality in the crystallized short sleeves embroidered in transparent white drops on an otherwise unembroidered dress in blood red satin.
The train in entirely matte pieces also displays an architectural quality with wide oval inlays to enhance the mermaid shape and elongate the silhouette.
Coats of crumpled brocade, silk satin or taffeta all display ample “balloon” sleeves to finish with a sumptuous touch the evening looks of the season.
Nevertheless this collection will above all be remembered for the bustier dress in “techno” electric blue purplish squares, the “moulded” techno dress of metallic red with black tulle, the long bustier sheath with a giant knot of electric blue in the same innovative plastic material.
The collection was sent on a runway of sparkling white fake snow with two silver birches near the exit to evoke very appropriately the illustrated season. Hold on Mr. Chakra, the guest list of official Haute Couture should be on its way!
[JEAN PAUL CAUVIN]
Photos courtesy of Georges Chakra
Paris Haute Couture Fall 2007