Alluding to the abundance of leopard print in his pre-fall collection for Lanvin, Alber Elbaz said, "Designers used to go to the jungle for inspiration, now we don't have time to go because we're living in one." He won't get any arguments on the jungle front from editors and retailers today—not with over a dozen pre-fall shows and appointments on the calendar here in New York.
As for the animal print, if it was ever on fashion's endangered-species list, it's certainly not anymore. In fact, it's become so common, it's practically a neutral. Elbaz made it fresh by fearlessly pairing a printed sweatshirt with tapered pants in a clashing pattern, and accessorizing both with a clutch and boots in yet another version of the print, or, somewhat less successfully, by embroidering beaded daisies on printed backgrounds. As ever, there was scads of costume jewelry, while the news in accessories was floppy chapeaux in pony hair.
He answered the baroque portions of the collection with classic, not quite minimal tailoring and outerwear that felt in keeping with the precision of his most recent runway show. In this group, a belted navy coat with black satin revers was a keeper, as was a black leather blouson top worn over a turtleneck and a short pencil skirt.
A strapless red cocktail dress with exposed seams was the collection's one shot of color, but the real winner for after dark was an ankle-length long-sleeve dress in black-and-white animal print that looked as cool and easy to wear as a T-shirt.