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 fey.
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 it.