PRÊT-À-PORTER FALL 2012
Time flies, and it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Alber Elbaz began his work as artistic director for the house of Lanvin. I’m a longtime fan: I started buying Lanvin clothes and accessories at the very beginning of Alber’s association with the brand, so now I have a beautiful wardrobe of perfect items I’ve collected over time, begging to be worn again and again.
This season’s défilé offered many of Alber’s signature looks, but he didn’t simply lift them from earlier collections–as always, he tweaked and refined his vision in the search for something new. He addressed many of his favorite motifs (shapely silhouettes included), but took the overall collection in exciting directions, opening with vibrant, body-conscious dresses in a neoprene-like fabric that gave structure to peplums and collar frills; segueing to racy black leathers and high-glam gold brocade (with matching boots); and ending with indulgent cocktail wonders in whimsical floral prints. Along the way, the ensembles were variously finished with bright gloves, fur stoles, surrealistic plastic-and-mirror costume jewelry or crystal-beaded shoes.
It was a beautiful show, and as it came to an end, the audience responded with a well-deserved standing ovation. The cavernous Halle Freyssinet had been decorated as though for a birthday party, with lovely cakes, canapes and Champagne–and Alber’s rendition of Que Sera, Sera announced the opening of an enormous stage where everyone gathered to celebrate his 10th anniversary and another smashing show. It wasn’t easy to move through the crowd, but I reached Alber, gave him a big hug and offered him my heartfelt “congratulations.” He told me he loved me, but I’m sure he said that to many people that day! In any case, he sounded sincere, and I love him, too!
Just before the show, I’d chatted with Lanvin’s CEO, Thierry Andretta, a charming man who told me Alber had been “a little stressed out” by the impending anniversary (a normal reaction, of course). Even before seeing the collection, I told Thierry I knew I would love it. In fact, it’s hard not to love Lanvin–and in this collection, especially, there wasn’t a piece I wouldn’t be happy to own. Now, that’s successful design! Alber has proven himself to be a charming, soulful member of the fashion community, but his star rose first and foremost because of the inherent beauty of his designs. That’s what strikes a chord with all women (myself included)–that sense of connection–and the happy realization that this man’s clothes will always work for me!
Photographs by Stéphane Israël