the collection Spring | Summer 2013
Alber Elbaz backstage after his spring/summer 2013 show this evening. “I had to, it was 10 years,” said the designer who back in February even went so far as to get up on stage and sing Que Sera Sera for the occasion and hosted a huge big fashion party of a catwalk show, full of all the Lanvin greatest hits. But we all have to grow up at some point.
“It was about purity and precision, not control or minimalism,” explained Elbaz of the apparent new direction we were greeted with this evening. It was darker – with a lot more black than we’re used to seeing from this jewel-hued fashion house – and there was more emphasis on body-conscious styles or those that were very very square; there was less embellishment and a strong backbone of monochrome when it came to the colour palette.
“It’s always about variety. I live with women and I work with women and they’re all very individual – she wants to wear something that makes her feel like a star – the new black dress, the jacket,” reasoned Elbaz, noting this collection to be centred around one other thing aside from a woman’s needs: the square. “Almost everything is a square. Every time I tried something round, it didn’t work. I’m a square,” he said.
Those squares did indeed translate across the collection – for short and sharp dresses that came out towards the end and were more the Lanvin we’re used to knowing (all magenta, teal and sapphire); for box-cut cropped jackets that were pointed on the shoulder; and for mosaic panelling that smothered jumpsuits and dresses and jackets like shards of gold and black glass.
There was a nod to the orient with graphic obi belts and bows that had been given that square, or as Elbaz described “abstract”, treatment, and interesting cuts that made tuxedo jackets someway between being a dress and a kimono wrap. Asymmetry, too, was big and it was about one shoulder on show, while the other was decorated with a puff or a point.
Super sweet were the little golden flat sandals with their molten block heels, while pointed numbers that gripped the ankle were sharp and sassy – darker. For army candy, little evening bags were inspired by perfume bottles and looked like the girls were swinging genie lamps as they went.
Karlie Kloss looked like a stunning Amazonian goddess in a short little square pink and black number, while Kristen McMenamy shone in a bedazzled jumpsuit number, her long flowing hair offsetting the whole thing.
There was a lot to take in – most notably what seemed to be an emerging new chapter in the Lanvin story.
about the designer
In 1985, Abler Elbaz moved to New York City and spent two years working for a manufacturer of mother-of-the-bride clothing. He then worked for Geoffrey Beene for seven years. He says he was influenced by Beene’s rejection of trends and masterful drape and fit. “It was a very beautiful relationship…. Our best dialogue was not in words,” Elbaz has reminisced.
In 1997, Elbaz left Beene and, through retailer Dawn Mello, was hired by the firm of Guy Laroche. But, by the time of Elbaz’s arrival, the Laroche enterprise had become overly conservative and lackluster. Even so, Elbaz was able to update the collection and somewhat enhance the image of the firm, whose activities at the time included the management of 15 boutiques and 70 license agreements worldwide. However, he departed within a year, 1998, and began designing ready-to-wear women’s clothing for Yves Saint Laurent, because Saint-Laurent himself wished to withdraw from his hands-on design of prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear). In the position, Elbaz’s talent was recognized, and he was groomed to become the head designer of the house when Saint Laurent retired. This was not to happen, because the GucciGroup purchased YSL Rive Gauche, the ready-to-wear label, and, hence, Gucci design director Tom Ford dismissed Elbaz after three collections. Elbaz instead began working for Krizia in Italy and designed a well-received inaugural collection.