After several years in the creative wilderness, Lanvin is back on form.
There was a palpable sense of relief — as well as praise — as noisy applause erupted at the end of the French couture house’s catwalk show Wednesday, a debut from Bruno Sialelli, Lanvin’s fourth designer in four years.
Some highlights from the fall and winter ready-to-wear shows at Paris Fashion Week:
LANVIN IS BACK
Lanvin, a French national treasure, has struggled since the departure of lauded couturier Alber Elbaz in 2015 after 14 years at the helm.
That ended resoundingly Wednesday, with Sialelli taking the brand in a strong new direction with a playful, arty and accomplished collection of men’s and women’s designs called “Mystic Pilgrims.”
The collection was shown amid statues of French kings inside the haunting stone interiors of Paris’ National Museum of the Middle Ages.
Layering was used whimsically. Fluid medieval fairytale princess silhouettes featured amid uber-small waists, deconstructed ponchos in Saville Row-style check, and tartan print used as a contrasting bodice on ethnic silk dresses.
Colors were used with mastery — in a melting pot of Renaissance hues that spanned from the house’s signature blue into what the brand called “powdery shades of avocado, absinthe, banana and bergamot warmed by mahogany, navy, tomato and a blaze of ultraviolet.”
Some had raised doubts about Sialelli when he was poached in January from Loewe, given that he was relatively unknown and only 31 years old. Others had taken to social media in recent seasons with the tag #JeSuisLanvin in sadness and solidarity at the great house’s perceived demise.
This collection proved them wrong.
Paris Fashion Week brims with new design concepts — some are pure gimmicks, others relevant fresh ideas.
This season Maison Margiela’s design chief John Galliano introduced fashion editors, under the lofty ceiling of the Grand Palais, to “degeneration.”
The house markets itself as a sort of fashion ideas laboratory with staff that always don white science aprons. The program notes explained: “Galliano employs decadent cutting to reduce familiar garments to their most authentic form… only the memory of what once was.”
In the 40-look men’s and women’s collection, “degeneration” turned out to be a play on deconstruction that revealed the essential form or features of a garment in a way that was not gender specific.
Pockets and the Harris tweed of a gray menswear coat was used as the base material for a women’s dress. An office-ready white poplin shirt and knitted tank top were transformed into the undergarments of a layered black organza column dress, worn by a man with hairy legs, pop socks and black rubber Mary Janes.
Elsewhere, a double-breasted coat in black wool was transformed into shorts.
THE ART OF THE INVITATION
The age of email and rising environmental awareness doesn’t seem to have left a mark on the fashion industry’s antiquated system of invitations.
Season after season, gasoline-guzzling couriers crisscross Paris to personally deliver ever-elaborate, often hand-made, show invites.
Top houses vie for the wackiest or most imaginative idea.
Chloe’s “invitation” this season was a small pack of matches with pink ends. Jacquemus proved that less is more with the smallest invitation card in recent memory measuring 3cm by 4cm — with show information that required a magnifying glass to read.
And Saint Laurent chose the decadent option, sending out black leather wallets with the guest’s initials embossed discreetly inside in gold.