September 26, 2013 Paris
The over-the-top use of shine in this collection was quite startling—there was more of it than in a Monte Carlo discotheque. And there did indeed seem to be a little play on the idea of "Eurotrash" in the show, with many of the models clutching trash-bag-style handbags to reinforce the point. An audience member asked Elbaz after the show whether they were indeed modeled on garbage bags, to which the designer replied, deadpan, "I don't make garbage bags." No, he makes very nice ones of high quality.
Nevertheless, while the shine—all of the lamés, satins, Lurexes and brocades—might at first appear as subtle as a brick, in the hands of Elbaz, there was indeed a distinct sensitivity to it all. The fabrics were put through a variety of processes—stonewashed, vaporized, slashed, and broken—and Elbaz's playful tackling of the most unlikely of Lanvin materials en masse was still convincing. There were moments of distinct, delicate poetry, such as a long, flowing shirtdress on Catherine McNeil or the flapper dresses worn by Edie Campbell and Zlata Mangafic. This is one of those collections that should be seen and touched in the flesh, rather than just viewed in photographs.
As with last season, the silhouettes this time were varied and idiosyncratic, aimed at a cast of individual characters, spanning decades largely from the twenties to the eighties but realized in the now. A new fringed men's loafer—in gold, obviously—was scaled down for girls, and it gave a carefree edge to many of the looks, particularly Lindsey Wixson's spangle-y ensemble, a standout of the show.
Alber Elbaz is confounding expectations once again, in a collection that he defined as "an homage to the fabric industry," before adding, "Going to the factories, to the basements and warehouses where fabrics are kept, tells you the truth. I didn't want to do a collection based on the forest or Marilyn Monroe." Elbaz also seems to be enjoying the sense of freedom evoked by his last few collections: "I think that freedom is luxury and luxury is freedom," he stated simply. As a designer, Elbaz has a distinct sense of independence, autonomy, and freedom at Lanvin, a place where he can continue to experiment. But ask him if he has now become a rebel, and he replies, "I never thought of myself as rebellious. I do think about what people want. People look for a dream and for fantasy in fashion." Elbaz is still pursuing the dream, and it's not surprising that it's that word which is emblazoned on items of his clothing in this collection.