With his first collection for Lanvin, Alber Elbaz successfully walked the
finest of lines between design panache and desirable, grown-up clothes.
Leaving a chic margin of raw edge on the most luxurious of fabrics, and
cutting a beautiful compromise between the fierce and the feminine, he
pulled off a feat of styling that augurs well for the future.
Elbaz opened his show with a dark brown, double-face coat with an irregular
cascade of sequin running down the front. It was a signal that quality would
be honored, but also energized with a shot of free-form creativity. That
thread was developed via wrapper coats in, for example, slubby brown tweed
with an unfinished edge running down the front, and in the way he frayed the
edges of what might otherwise have been a matronly combination of a camelhair
cape and dress. Elbaz's sequence of chiffon dresses in subtle washes of
neutral color were beautifully done, bound with multiple leather belts and
held on by effortlessly complex twists and knots in the shoulder details.
With their unhemmed edgesand especially when they were shown with high,
pointy distressed leather spat-bootsthey channeled ballerinas and pagan
goddesses (and perhaps Claire McCardell) without seeming in the least bit
Elbaz spanned luxe and casual by showing how good fur can look if worn
simply with a gray tracksuit and high heels. He also cleverly put immaculate
oversize overcoats over matching pantsuits with a mannish cuta subtle
reference to Lanvin's identity as a successful seller of mens' suits. This
was an optimistic start to a new chapter in Elbaz's career (he was formerly
at Guy Laroche, YSL Rive Gauche, and Krizia) and he was loudly applauded for