Haute Couture

Rani Zakhem Spring/Summer 2018

For his first couture fashion show in Paris, Rani Zakhem celebrates life and joy in incandescent metaphors. Fire is the essential element of this sumptuous yet relaxed collection, dedicated to a volcanic woman.
 
As devouring as ethereal, the sacred element comes in pyrotechnic explosions and cascades of gold, drawn by embroideries of arachnoid crystals of lava on the black of a sheath whose draped top splits into a deep "V” neckline. 
 
Some creations seem to be sculpted in the light, like this pearl-beige silk dress, where red, orange and gold gems glow with a myriad of sequins that bring precious reflections back to the surface. Here the image of the volcano is spun to the neck, columned and entirely gilded, a recurring element of the collection and keystone of an architecture that favors ease, movement and, one would be tempted to add, the dancing flames that seem to devour the fabric barely touch the floor.
 
Reminiscent of a party in Vienna where the designer returned bedazzled, Klimt's Kiss, itself cast in gold in a powder dust of stars, infuses into the collection a resolutely modernist visual vocabulary, translated into sequins of geometric forms. Geometry that also brings us into the disco spirit of the 1970s with many references to Halston, especially in a loose single shouldered fluid dress with a golden Mao collar, in a fanned out degradé rainbow, gold to red through yellow and bright orange. Gold, again, subtle and powdery, sculpts a feuille d’or chiffon dress, knotted in a wrap-around bustier dropping into a deep backline, a tribute to Mireille Darc elegantly quoting Guy Laroche.
 
Clearly, the theme of fire, sometimes extinguished leaving precious streaks of diamonds on silky nights; sometimes fluid, sizzling cascades of molten metal on a short dress with dripping panel, and sometimes gently iridescent with warm colors, is only a pretext chosen by Rani Zakhem to salute the masters who nourished his vocation.
 
A scarfed collared, vertiginously split yellow chiffon, plissé soleil dress with mouton sleeves, is a joyful smile addressed to Jean-Louis Scherrer. Another, short black silk satin, real Moujik tunic adorned at the bottom with pleated yellow faille embellished with a large bow of the same fabric is a nod to Yves Saint Laurent. A third composed of a densely embroidered golden top with narrow three-quarter sleeves, and a long black pleated skirt is a reverence to Balmain. The heart skips a beat when the liquid gold drape of a silk jersey habillé evening sheath appears, ending with a large bow of black silk satin on the shoulder, a tribute of the designer to Madame Grès.
 
A black silk satin kaftan, embroidered on the edges with gold sequins and flame patterns at the bottom, recalls Rani Zakhem's native orient and plays the bond between his multiple cultures.
A delicate apotheosis of this fashion show, shaped in flowing lava and blazing fires, is the wedding dress, long and tight, in delicate whitish lace, emphasizes by its precious simplicity the minimalist bias of a collection with budding emotions.
Jordan Easter
Bulgari