Monday, March 29, 2010

J'adore Lanvin

Pieces from Lanvin Spring/Summer 2010

Just in case no one has noticed, I have a faint (ha, yeah right) obsession with all that is Lanvin. Alber Elbaz is pure genius. Season after season of serving up magnificently refined ways of dressing, he reassures us all that it's okay to dress as women in this world many still believe is a man's. I don't think it'd be too far from the truth in saying he's got that softly tailored thing down to a fine science. He himself hit the nail on the head when referring to the inspiration behind his latest fall collection: "Women ask for masculine tailoring, but they want to feel feminine." Bingo. Women are a bunch of contractions aren't they Alber?!

Prior to 2001, and Elbaz's appointment as artistic director, the French house had yet to establish a 'personal identity' for itself, to use marketing speak. What a turnaround. Since his very first collection for Autumn/Winter 2002, drapery, flattering silhouettes, refined details, perfect degrees of embellishment- all that is woman-friendly- has become synonymous with the label.

It's all in the deatils: SS '10

All of Lanvin's collections since the first under Elbaz's creative direction have been heralded with the same taglines: "an impressive degree of respect for real women" (SS '02), "a personal gift to the modern Lanvin woman" (AW '06) and "clothes that make women reel over in desire" (SS '07). Misguided that he strolls down the austere path of banal, stopping occasionally on his way to boredom? Don't be. He himself noted that he is not an optimist, or a pessimist; but a realist. And what's wrong with that? Realism is not banal. Or austere. It is real. Frustratingly gorgeous, simple but daring, powerful yet feminine; loose and soft but sculpted and moulded and chic. Take Spring/Summer 2010 for example; what started out as a slew of black draping, ruffles and asymmetry burst into a silken dream filled with jewelled pinks and blues and beads. His work is the perfect example of the masculine versus feminine debate; with the right amount of pleating, pinching, ruffling, draping and beading; a piece of suit fabric is reworked into a modern-day, womanly, miracle. Creating confidence and beauty for women, while giving direction to this house once known for its beautifully tailored men’s' suits. Ironic, no?

My favourite, and most spot on in terms of Elbaz's goal, was Sarah Mower's review of his 2006 Spring/Summer collection: "He is one of the few designers who remembers we are still earthlings who serve in offices and quite like (past the age of 25) to get out at night in something other than a baby doll." (This was back when the movement of baby-doll dresses was upon us, favourably endorsed by nearly every celebrity creature- thank YOU Lindsay Lohan. Not.) Even though I am not quite at the milestone Mower referred to (being the ripe old age of 20), I'd like to think once I graduate past the age of body-con, there's something else out there. With a Lanvin label, no less.

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