The eighth year of Fashion Week El Paseo wrapped on a high note Saturday as designer of the week Gilbert Chagoury launched his “Shattered Innocence” collection to rousing cheers and standing ovations from the more than 1,000 people packing the Big White Tent.
The Dior-trained Beverly Hills couturier debuted the spectacular collection — created just for Fashion Week — to thumping music and rollicking applause. The energy buzzed at the pre-show cocktail party and never let up; eager fans were lined up outside the tent well before the show’s start.
“I feel amazing,” a jubilant Chagoury said after the show. “I feel so blessed and so honored and very happy.”
The packed room hummed with anticipation; it exploded with excitement when the lights dimmed to show video graphics of fire on a black background and the first piece, a fitted white skirt suit, hit the runway.
Chagoury’s use of white, red, champagne and black represented the “smashing” of a young woman’s innocence and this was apparent watching the collection evolve.
The first half of the show offered almost 40 new pieces, with suits, sheer tops, flowing and fitted pants, and abundant lace. Skirts featured lace detailing on the hips; others showed lace at the bottom, along with sheer, breezy blouses with fabulously feminine lace cuffs. A red fitted see-through lace top and skirt elicited big applause, as did a full skirt paired with a black and red coat.
The first half of the show drew cheers, but the second half — the evening gowns — ramped up the excitement even further.
Models strutted the runway in delectable creations to such tunes as “Feelin’ Good” and “Fever.” Some of the biggest applause came for a full-length cream and gold overcoat and gown, complete with train, and a black bodice and train over lace pants. A particular stunner was the nude sheer dress with hand-appliquéd lace located in the most demure places. His black lace gown with a detachable train offered options that ranged from red carpet to eveningwear.
“The inspiration of the show was the Victorian era,” Chagoury said. “I really wanted to put the hips and the feminine body out there. Everything you see right now is the skinny girls and I think that’s not interesting. That’s not the woman. The woman needs to have a shape. The woman is beautiful when she is a woman. So, that’s why in the collection I really exaggerated the hips.”
His use of 18th-century dress supports, such as the pannier, looked modern and gave the most elegant fashions an edgy look. Constructed from gold washed metal, these architectural devices were used to make a women’s waist look smaller, spread out the folds of the fabric, and show the entire front of the dress as the wearer swished across the room.
The culmination of the collection — the finale red bridal gown, shown to a “Ave Maria” — rendered the room silent. The stunning dress, featuring a full pannier, lace train, hat and veil, brought the crowd of 1,000 to its feet. A beaming Chagoury walked the runway at the conclusion, hoisting a bouquet aloft, to thunderous applause.
The guests chattered with excitement even as they filed out to attend the after-party; within minutes, the party was in full swing as attendees noshed on food catered by Jensen’s, surrounded by animal sculptures in the outdoor area, and hit the indoor dance floor.
Chagoury, who was born in Lebanon and raised in Paris, graduated from Parsons School of Design in both Paris and New York. He creations are found in Paris, the Middle East, New York, and Hollywood, and he counts such stars as Milla Jovovich, Katy Perry, Niki Taylor, Michelle Rodriguez, Paris Hilton, Shenae Grimes, Demi Lovato, Hayden Panettiere, Leven Rambin, Natasha Henstridge, and Edie Falco among his clientele. He also supports numerous charities, including the Carousel of Hope Ball in Beverly Hills, which benefits The Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, iGoPink: The Breast Cancer Charities of America, and Go Red For Women.