Fashion Moment: Living Coral

When Pantone declared 2019 the year of “Living Coral” they were spot on. However, perhaps not quite in the way they intended. While Pantone was referring to the colour of the year, it seems the couture runways have run with the idea, too. While many designers used the bright pink colour Pantone referred to, designers took the concept of coral as a whole to create ocean-inspired collections. Two designers in particular, Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, both Lebanese coincidentally, took inspiration from the world under the sea.

Elie Saab’s SS19 couture collection took inspiration from living coral in a subtle way. Gowns in the peachy pink, seafoam green, bright pastel blues, and gold are accented with embellished designs clearly inspired by coral reefs. The bright hues and ornate sequins conjure an image of Marie Antoinette combined with Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Though most gowns just hint at the shape of coral, some have three-dimensional gold coral pieces attached under the belt, focusing in on the underlying sea-theme.

Meanwhile, Zuhair Murad takes a more forthright approach. Deep blues like the depths of the ocean, lighter, but still bright, blues and pinks, lavenders and whites, Murad’s SS19 couture collection is a veritable undersea garden. Actual embroidered coral branches are embellished on dresses while silks and satins create a fluidity like the waves of the ocean. A caped gown has an undersea scene – coral and all – screen-printed onto the flowing satin. Fully-sequined gowns have a pattern that evokes the waves of the ocean while a tie-dye gown brings all these colours together.

It’s clear that both Murad and Saab took inspiration from the ocean and coral reefs. Perhaps they are bringing attention to our oceans which are being destroyed at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, though Pantone declared “Living Coral” the colour of the year, there isn’t much coral actually living anymore, thanks to global warming. Perhaps Saab and Murad’s ode to living coral is meant to encourage us to do something about this because if we don’t, their gowns will be one of the only reminders of what that under the sea garden once looked like.

Because if we don’t, “living coral” won’t be living anymore.


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