Karen Sabag’s 2010 evening gown collection was meant to reflect the narrow streets of Barcelona, and at first glance, that was the obvious attempt: The runway was painted with a dotted line down the middle, white sheets were tacked to the walls with sketches of European towns, and the focal point was intended to imitate a serene park landscape. Never mind the fact that the price tags were still visible on the potted plants, or that the faux road signs looked like they had been drawn up the night before; at the very least, the scene was set.
However, the collection was nowhere near as quaint as the show’s atmosphere. The complete opposite — it was as if the audience was watching a storyboard come down the runway. Various disparate elements found their way into the collection, from antique embroidery and mosaic-stone adornments, to geometric patterning and structural pieces drawn from the ’80s. The problem with this approach is that it lacks directional oversight and the cohesiveness that the finest collections have to offer. Though Sabag’s efforts at experimentation deserve recognition, the execution of them came off as slipshod as the setting her show took place in. Clustered stones overshadowed garments made of delicate fabrics that simply could not support their visual weight, and oversized pleats sewn outward failed to present themselves as wearable pieces.
That being said, there were a few hidden gems in the wannabe-luxury-resort collection that deserve mentioning. The return to a mint- and cream-heavy color palette bore out beautifully layered dresses, elegantly tailored and accessorized with beaded belts that could easily compliment any run-of-the-mill ensemble. Her two- and three-piece suits with silk organza blouses bounced down the runway in a distinctly feminine way — a look that few designers have achieved in recent years.
But a half-dozen pieces can’t carry an entire collection, let alone a career. However ambiguous Sabag’s intended audience was, the line’s overall purpose was even more unclear. It seemed that last night’s spectators were more concerned with the number of Swarovski crystals studding each gown, rather than their expert placement.
As Sabag’s bubbly personality glided down the runway for the final round of applause, alongside a bridal-esque princess look suitable only for the Marie Antoinette fantasies of our youth, it’s plain to see why the crowd was overwhelmed with appreciation and pride. Still, the greatest disappointment was this precise reaction — that the audience actually believed it.