Last week at Paris Couture Fashion week, among established names like Chanel and Giambattista Valli, nestled between Elie Saab and Jean Paul Gaultier, was Israeli designer Galia Lahav.
Lahav and her design partner Sharon Sever are the first Israeli designers to nab the prestigious position of guest member of the official couture-granting agency, the Chambre de Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
The collection, the design duo’s third run on the couture calendar, had a title fit for the post-Weinstein era: “Don’t Call Me Sugar.” And the collection was everything you’d expect a sass-talking, sex-on-a-stick woman would wear for a night on the town: revealing cutouts and super short hems; gowns in slinky, sinuous fabrics; sequins plastered onto nearly every dress.
But as the models sashayed down the darkened runway in the grand hall of the Beaux-Arts de Paris (an 18th century building that’s a part of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts — France’s prestigious fine arts university), it became clear that the designers’ are still trying to find their footing. The collection was strongest when it embraced it’s unapologetically “glam” aesthetic. Like with the billowy lame gown, spliced by sequin panels and cut to reveal the left leg: as the model walked, the skirt, in shades of purple ranging from mauve to aubergine, shimmered under the runway lights, evoking appreciative gasps from the audience as they all, in near unison, took out their phones to capture the moment for their Instagram followers.
And then there were the occasional technical missteps — a bunched seam here, a panty line there — which made the collection feel unpolished. Which may have been the point. After all, the design duo gave it an aggressive title, “Don’t Call Me Sugar.” Which is why it was the lackluster presentation was so disappointing — the models remained stoic and impassive as they strutted down the dimly lit runway, their perfunctory walk dulling the sparkle and swagger of their clothes. And after a beautiful breakout collection, with a defined, even extravagant, Victorian sensibility, this collection fell far short of fleshing out who Galia Lahav is as a couture designer.
But the problem had mostly to do with the overall aesthetic presented. The designers held back and, aside from a few standout moments, they didn’t take the idea to its full-bodied, swaggering conclusion. It felt safe, even borderline boring — closer to the homogeneity of the early 2000’s red carpet glam, rather than the woman who stands alone, demanding that men shouldn’t dare call her sugar.