There aren’t many designers in the world who can handle the feminine and the refined without looking dated and chichi. But Alber Elbaz, at Lanvin, is one of the few capable of pushing delicate classicism toward an inspiring new edge. Declaring that he “wanted to do something beautiful that reflects what’s going on around us,” he took extravagant materialssatin ribbon, Chantilly lace, couture-grade silk, python and furand worked them alongside the more modern, disciplined look of exposed zippers and ribbed jersey.
Elbaz’s defining looks included neat black waisted knee-length dresses made of vertical lengths of ribbon invisibly set on strips of tulle; as the models walked, the narrowness of the silhouette broke into a gorgeous fan. The ribbon motif ran throughout the collection, sometimes flattened into an asymmetric bow on the front of a jacket or the derri¿re of a skirt. Exquisite knife-edge pleating turned up in a lipstick-red dress, a strict belted coat swinging into a plissé skirt, and as glamorous detail in the back vent of an ultrachic black taffeta trench with ribbon-tied cuffs.
The ladylike-meets-military feel was at its most focused when the decorative haberdashery got worked into ribbed knit zippered suits. A fur sweater with a zipper in the shoulder marched over tight pants tucked into black boots. After that came a slew of little cocktail dresses, some made entirely in black lace, others as sheaths of geometric bugle beading or distressed silver sequin. Crafted with extraordinary skill, the collection was another step in the reevaluation of charm and luxury that is shaping up as fashion’s newest movement.