In satin and pearls, jersey and brocade, mesh and lace, Lanvin’s birthday present to celebrate their 125th anniversary was a bouquet of fashion for the 21st-century women, from Alber Elbaz
“I am going back to the girls I love,” said the designer, referring to the show’s powerful, even emotional opening, as models who are still willowy, but now womanly, walked the runway: Amber Valetta in a slim dress with a waterfall of pearl buttons and a slither of bared skin, and Violetta Sanchez, who opened the show in a soft column of fabric with one sliced-off shoulder.
The idea of offering clothes not just to different women, but for deeper womanly needs and emotions is so right for today. And within that vision, Alber Elbaz packed in everything from severe tailoring – marked with basting stitches as though its wearer were leaving home in a hurry – to brocade, that grand, tactile material, coaxed into a pair of skinny pants and worn with a taut tuxedo jacket.
It may be significant that the two great axis of the modern women’s wardrobe, Lanvin and Prada, both offered brocade for Summer 2015. But Alber’s vision was also about elements from the history of his mother brand.
In re-visiting the archive, he introduced echoes of the Twenties, Lanvin’s heartland, from the prancing figure of a faun, to Jeanne Lavin’s particular shade of sky blue, to the symbols of the label’s perfume, Arpège.
I thought of that fragrance’s logo, created before that word had become a brand cliché. Arpège’s mother and child on their way to a ball must be the only image used in high fashion that embraces family life.
The women in Elbaz’s collection looked like they had lived and loved and that they brought all that personal experience with them to the designer’s fine clothes, from an oversized jacket to a chiffon puff of paisley pattern.
That is why this collection was filled with an emotion that you rarely find on the runway. These were clothes for living, or, as an ecstatic Elbaz, who received a prolonged ovation put it, these were “very happy clothes.”