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Category: Haute Couture

Elie Saab’s elegant new fragrance

Lebanese couturier Elie Saab has been creating ethereal gowns and memorable dresses for his devoted clientele (he sells more couture gowns than any other couture house) as well as Hollywood celebrities for the Halleberrypast 25 years. Who can forget the sheer-bodiced, burgundy gown with floral appliqué worn by Halle Berry in 2002 when she accepted her lead actress Oscar? Or more recently, the whisper-soft, lilac lace dress Mila Kunis wore to this year’s Oscars?

The Beirut-based designer is adding a beauty component to his couture house with his first fragrance, called simply Elie Saab Le Parfum (out in September). The scent was created by famed perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, whose other notable creations include Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Male, Narciso Rodriguez For Her as well as his eponymous collection of men’s and women’s fragrances, candles and home scents.

For Saab’s first scent, Kurkdjian said that he knew it was something he had to get absolutely right. “I had an intuition that it would change something within the fragrance market, or maybe something in my career,” said Kurkdjian, sitting in light-filled suite at the Sunset Tower Hotel. “This scent sums up what I think about femininity. It’s beautiful, approachable and easy to understand.”

With strong input from Saab, who was opposed to scents such as vanilla and heavy and cloying wood notes being used in the perfume, Kurkdjian set out to create something inspired by the lightness of the fabrics and fluidity found in Saab’s gowns. “The scent should leave a light trail, just like the trail of a gown,” Kurkdjian said. Milakunis

Saab’s new scent smells primarily of orange blossom and  jasmine, while patchouli and cedar wood give the fragrance a nice depth, without getting too heavy. “There’s a duality between the orange blossom and wood that mixes femininity with strength. It was a challenge to find the twist. It’s very simple, but very sophisticated.

Another challenge came in the form of the perfume’s color, which was customized to echo the delicate pastels Saab uses in his collection. The more rich and complex a fragrance is, the darker in color it will become. Kurkdjian extracted the color from the perfume without compromising the scent and then carefully added  a hint of color back into the formula to achieve the right shade of rosy blush.

But regardless of the pressure and challenges a perfumer can face when creating a signature scent for a well-known designer, Kurkdjian said that making a scent for someone else is far easier than doing his own line.

“It’s much easier to deliver someone else’s vision,” he said. “The brand is already there. It’s like being an actor and the lighting and set is all ready. You’re given the script and you have to read your lines and deliver.” Speaking of acting, the Paris-based perfumer spends ample time in Los Angeles, where he said the people are nice and the lifestyle is easy. When asked if he ever finds inspiration in the flowers and landscape of L.A., Kurkdjian said he’s more inspired by the vibrations of people rather than literal smells. “I like L.A. I love the ocean and long stretches of beach, the way the air smells.... it reminds me of France.”


Smell Test: Cartier's Baiser Vole

Christina Aguilera launches a super sweet new scent

Boxer Manny Pacquiao launches a men's fragrance

 -- Melissa Magsaysay


Top: Elie Saab Le Parfum / Elie Saab

Left:  Actress Halle Berry waves as she arrives at the 74th  Academy Awards at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, March 24, 2002. Lucy Nicholson /AFP/ Getty Images

Right: Actress Mila Kunis at the 83rd Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2011.  Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Chanel Haute Couture SS11 hits Rodeo Drive

It’s Oscar week and as if there wasn’t enough glamour and glitz swirling about, Chanel has flown the spring-summer 2011 Haute Couture collection in for clients and celebrities to see up close and in CABGMKJ0CA6YR5UCCAPEZR3ICARH4YASCAITFRZVCAD4NYFMCAYS79B1CAD2AS08CATB3UPYCAP21XF3CAMRRUZECAVCAZ75CA7CZWZGCA4NBJ9CCANE696DCATIDAQPCADLK7NLCAHVOW1OCA3R7DZJ person. The collection, which in its entirety of over 60 pieces appears lighter than air, was shown in an all-white, sunlight-drenched room on the second floor of the Chanel boutique on Rodeo Drive.

It’s hard to imagine that one white-beaded double-breasted floor length coat took 1,000 hours to make and that each one of the millions of tiny sequins, beads and metallic threads were all hand-placed and sewn onto the finest tulle and chiffon. The idea seems more real when you see one of the women who had a major hand in creating the collection. Martine Houdet, Chanel’s Premier L’Atelier (head of the couture workshop in Paris) is in town with the collection to fit couture clients. Anyone who’s seen the documentary Chanel Signe about the insanely creative and often chaotic process it takes to make the couture collection might remember Houdet as one of Lagerfeld’s team.

This is the first time in over five years that the Couture line has appeared in L.A, and Chanel’s head of Couture services, Sigrid De’Lepine is passionate about the pieces being available for potential buyers to touch and feel in person. De’Lepine was on-hand to explain the painstaking details of each piece and that it takes a team of 150 people to work full time on couture, in order to get the samples and orders finished. As aspiring as the couture line is, Chanel is clearly making it as accessible as possible to those who can afford to wear it.

Next, the Chanel Haute Couture collection will travel to China then Japan, so the French house’s loyal Asian customers can experience the craftsmanship up close and possibly place an order.

Melissa Magsaysay

Photos: A model walks the runway during the Chanel show as part of the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2011 at Pavillon Cambon Capucines on Jan. 25, 2011, in Paris. Credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Your morning fashion and beauty report: John Galliano, Bruce Willis and scheming British brides

A model presents a creation by John Galliano, as part of the Dior couture collection John Galliano debuts a couture collection for Dior. [Telegraph]

Can't get enough of Bruce Willis? Anticipating next month's release of "The Expendables"? To tide you over, get a whiff of Willis' new fragrance line. [WWD, subscription required]

Serena Williams stars in a photo spread in the August issue of Harper's Bazaar. [StyleList]

The blogosphere continues to muse on model Crystal Renn: Is she losing weight ... or what? [New York Magazine/The Cut]

Do these bridesmaids make me look fat? ... One-third of (engaged) British women who were surveyed said they would ask an overweight friend to be a bridesmaid to make them look better. [Telegraph]

And if you cannot read enough about the stars of "Jersey Shore," we'd like to point out that Jennifer "J. Woww" Farley debuted a line of clothing in Las Vegas over the holiday. Its name? Filthy Couture. [People StyleWatch]

If you, like many of us, look at your hair in the morning and wonder if it is suffering the effects of too much coloring, processing, blow-drying, etc., one beauty editor has a suggestion: Home hair glaze. [Allure]

-- Alice Short

Photo: A model presents a creation by British fashion designer John Galliano as part of the Christian Dior Fall-Winter 2010-2011 Haute Couture collection in Paris. Credit: Associated Press


Your morning fashion and beauty report: Couture is booming? Iconic swimwear photos

Couture week Recession, shemession: Apparently couture houses are seeing a rise in demand. [WWD, subscription required]

Lily Cole will help kick off Paris couture week with the launch of her the North Circular knitwear label at Colette. [WWD]

Here's a clip of "Rachel Zoe" season 3, um sans Taylor Jacobson. [N.Y. Post]

Famously plus-size model Crystal Renn is looking rather svelte lately. [Huffington Post]

French Connection's new brand Pippa will debut at Bloomingdale's. [WWD, subscription required]

MAC and Disney plan to make magic with a villains collection. [WWD, subscription required]

Murad moves into teen, makeup lines. [WWD, subscription required]

From Kristen Stewart to Rihanna: Why red is the celebrity hair color du jour. [Daily Mail]

Video: Kelly Cutrone, Justine Bateman discuss Wonder Woman's makeover. [Huffington Post]

Photos of Khloe Kardashian are slimmed down for swimwear campaign. [Daily Mail]

Iconic swimwear photos (that may or may not have been Photoshopped). [StyleList]

Coming soon to bookstores: the Yohji Yamamoto story. [Telegraph UK]

Need something to read over the long weekend? Here are some books on American fashion. [Style Section L.A.]

-- Whitney Friedlander

Photo: Christian Dior exhibit at the autumn-winter 2009 Haute Couture week in Paris. Credit: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Attention L.A. style guys: Get a Savile Row bespoke suit from Kilgour without jetting off to London

Kilgour 3 If you’re a nattily dressed gentleman, you might be aware that the ultimate luxury item is a bespoke suit from London’s Savile Row. Legend has it that these made-to-measure custom suits offer unparalleled fit and can last a lifetime.

Kilgour, founded in 1882, is giving local dapper dudes the Savile Row experience without the flight to Heathrow. On Monday and Tuesday at the Chateau Marmont, Kilgour's in-house tailors will fit clients, including measuring and chatting about lapel widths, super 100 or 250 wools and whether to use one or two buttons. The suit-making process should take close to year: measurements are translated to a second baste fitting in which your suit's shell is marked with chalk. This second fitting will also take place in L.A. later this year. The suit is entirely stitched at Kilgour's Savile Row atelier.

A Kilgour bespoke suit costs a pretty pound -- prices start at around $4,480 at the current exchange rate, but it's not outrageous, if you consider the quality and the prospect that it might never go out of fashion.

Will Adams, one of Kilgour's traveling tailors, says today's stylish gentlemen opt for single breasted over double, a narrower lapel and one button. Among other details, “about 90%" request side vents and slanted pockets. Most men also ask for a gray or navy suit, but if you're the kind of guy who does more business in the evening rather than nine to five, a black suit will definitely make an impression.

“Every guy should have a black suit to wear to an evening dinner or go out clubbing with your mates,” Adams says. "You can always mix the jacket with a pair of jeans or chinos."

To schedule an appointment with a Kilgour tailor in L.A., call (646) 785-0592 or e-mail

-- Max Padilla

Photo: A Kilgour suit. Credit: Kilgour

Back in time: Betsy Bloomingdale and Titanic fashion exhibits Nov. 14 [Updated]

Bloomingdale Pasadena’s Friends of the Gamble House is sponsoring two fashion-history events on Nov. 14 to kick off the group’s seasonal lecture tour. [Updated 3:55 p.m. Oct. 20: An earlier version of this post incorrectly implied that the events would be held at the Gamble House.]

First is "adDRESSING Titanic: Appearance and identity in 1912," in which Kevin Jones, curator of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, will break down the sartorial hierarchy aboard the tragically doomed Titanic.

In addition to dissecting the various social subsets that were present on the ship (first, second and third class, along with crew and steerage), Jones will also highlight the many Titanic passengers involved in the fashion world and trend-making high-society circles. The event begins at 10 a.m. at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design.

That same day, historical haute couture pieces that fashion maven Betsy Bloomingdale gave to the FIDM Museum will be on display at the downtown Los Angeles site, 919 S. Grand Ave.  "High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture" exhibit, which will be on display at FIDM from Wednesday through Dec. 13, features 60 pieces. [Updated: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said 125 pieces.]  

Bloomingdale is the widow of Alfred P. Bloomingdale and an heir to the department store fortune. She was a devotee of French haute couture from 1961 to 1996, and on display will be vintage pieces designed by Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent, among others. The heiress' personal style and sensibilities will also be explored. The display opens at 1 p.m.

Both events will be sponsored by Friends of the Gamble House. To purchase tickets -- $15 for students and $25 for the general public -- call 626-793-3334 Ext. 52 or visit

-- Emili Vesilind

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Photo: Betsy Bloomingdale, pictured in 1969. Credit: Courtesy of Mrs. Alfred Bloomingdale, FIDM Museum

Gaultier, Valentino, Font close couture shows in Paris

Jean Paul Gaultier paris fashion week haute couture The winter 2010 haute couture shows are over ... so here's a final look -- at John Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Josep Font. Jenny Barchfield of the Associated Press reports:

"Jean Paul Gaultier [pictured at left] looked to vintage Hollywood for a solid collection that was equal parts Ava Gardner and Gaultier — the one-time enfant terrible of French fashion — himself.

"Things were looking up at Valentino. Its new design duo finally found their way out of the archive and forged a sexy new look for the mythic Italian label. Out went the ladylike day coats and tasteful A-line cocktail dresses in jewel-toned duchess silk; in came the second-skin bodice dresses in flesh-colored tulle and black lace; and up, way up, went the hemlines.

"For his fourth couture display, Spanish designer Josep Font continued to shore up his avant-garde credentials with a ravishing collection of think pieces."

Continue reading »

Elie Saab Fall/Winter 2009-2010 Couture Collection

Elie Saab Fall/Winter 2009-2010 Couture Collection Elie Saab gowns are a red carpet staple here inElie Saab Fall/Winter 2009-2010 Couture Collection L.A. Marion Cotillard recently wore a purple and blue mosaic print dress by the designer to the L.A. Film Festival premiere of “Public Enemies,” and Beyoncé and Evan Rachel Wood both wore Elie Saab Couture during the last Oscar ceremony and were two of the best dressed stars at the event.

Saab just showed his Fall/Winter 2009-2010 Couture collection today in Paris and it’s hard to tell whether any of the 46 all-white looks that floated down the runway will translate on to the red carpet.  Elie Saab Fall/Winter 2009-2010 Couture Collection

Every look the designer created was done in an ethereal white, with gathering and appliqués that made models look as if they were floating in a cumulus cloud.  It’s a far cry from the gold bedazzled dress Beyoncé wore or the elegant black column Evan Rachel Wood vamped it up in.  When awards season rolls back around-will Elie’s loyal celebrity fans being seeing all white?

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Pictures: Fall-Winter 2009/2010 Paris couture shows.

More blogs on the Paris couture shows

Photos: Looks from the Elie Saab Fall/Winter 2009/2010 Couture Collection. Credits: Left, Maya Vidon/ EPA; top right, Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press; bottom right, Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press.

Lacroix and Chanel bring out the haute couture

Lacroix 1 Some of the haute couture shows in Paris have generated star wattage; all have undoubtedly inspired applause. But yesterday's Christian Lacroix show triggered tears.

Jenny Barchfield of the Associated Press reports that there were a few weepy moments at what might be Lacroix's last haute couture show -- "at least for as long as it takes the legendary French designer to sort out his finances." Lacroix started insolvency proceedings in May and "looks likely to close its doors at the end of this month."

It somehow seems appropriate, then, that his winter 2010 collection was done in shades of black and navy. Barchfield writes that the "collection had a funeral feeling, and the crowd of well-heeled women wiping their eyes after the display only added to the dark mood."

Lacroix told his audience that he hopes to relaunch the haute couture line. In the meantime, he sent models down the runway with "supple draping, black lace, tone-on-tone embroidery and luscious beadwork." The bridal gown "which traditionally closes haute couture displays," Barchfield wrote, "was a Catholic icon ... the sumptuous dress underscored Lacroix's rare genius."

Continue reading »

At Armani couture show, classic clothes and megawatt stars

Armani couture 2 Jenny Barchfield of the Associated Press reports that Giorgio Armani's couture offerings "opened on familiar but strong territory with a series of pantsuits, his signature look, embellished with rhinestone-hemmed cuffs and buttons that looked like minature crystal balls." Barchfield continues:

Armani couture 1 Then the Italian designer brought out the big guns or, rather, the shiny guns, with bustier dresses covered in scintillating silver or champagne-colored crystals, sequins and beaded fringe. Models wore beaded headpieces with dangling fringe that perched at a jaunty angle on their identical dark bobbed wigs.

Not surprisingly, the show attracted its share of stars, including Cate Blanchett, who described  the show as "blinding" and "beautiful," and Megan Fox, who has made a few recent headlines with her outpouring of love for her latest film "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and its director, Michael Bay.

Blanchett wore a pagoda-shouldered dress by Armani; Fox wore a gray asymmetrical cocktail dress by the designer.

-- Alice Short

Pictures: Fall-Winter 2009/2010 Paris couture shows.

More blogs on the Paris couture shows

Photos: Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press



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