On a Saturday afternoon, about a week before the Lanvin show was going to be staged in Paris, we passed the eponymous boutique at the Hilton Shopping Gallery. It was terribly quiet inside. Not a soul was spotted, not even a salesperson. The clothes in their usual places looked untouched, unimpressive, unwanted. It’s premature to say if new guy Olivier Lapidus will be able to bring the customers back, but looking at what he showed, we’re afraid for the brand, once so desired for the romance that Alber Elbaz had infused it with.
Mr Lapidus—son of Ted, the French couturier who cut his teeth at Christian Dior and had introduced military styles to high fashion in the ’60s—probably had a tough time putting the collection together since, according to reports, he came on board only in August. Undoing the blah that former design director Bouchra Jarrar had left behind in a couple of months can’t be easy, let alone create a new, laudable aesthetic for the brand.
No one can bring back the whimsy and the joie de vivre that Alber Elbaz had introduced to Lanvin. And we may not want it back either. It’s been two years since Mr Elbaz left the house, the same the year Alessandro Michele joined Gucci, which has since dominated fashion conversations around the world. Mr Elbaz’s elegance now seems oddly old-fashioned, possibly too soigné for current tastes. What should the new Lanvin look like then?
We sense that Mr Lapidus wanted to do tarty clothes, but held himself back because it occurred to him that the Lanvin customer is more Natalie Portman than Kim Kardashian. Still, we can’t help but think that sexual provocation was on his mind, especially when there is more than a couple of short, hip-hugging dresses with an inverted-V of a front hemline, as well as those with plunging V necklines that threatened to meet the sibling below point to point. Some pieces just look, for a lack of better word, cheap.
Fashion has become so street-oriented that it is, for many women, lacking in good old sexy, body-clinging dresses. Mr Lapidus may be plugging this gap in the luxury market, but he too wanted to capture the hearts of the young, in particular those charmed by Supreme and the brand’s logo that other luxury labels want to associate themselves with. To strike a chord with these young people, he put out logo-ed dresses, only these look too much like those imitations that think they can pass themselves off as Chanel by repeating the moniker throughout the garments. Lanvin is not exactly known for its logo, except perhaps the mother and daughter symbol, created by the French illustrator Paul Iribe, so strikingly applied on the Arpège perfume bottle. Mr Lapidus’s logo overrun is sadly far removed from the refinement associated with Lanvin.
There is some seriousness though. A trio of solid-coloured coats has rounded shoulders and voluminous sleeves, perhaps hinting at Mr Lapidus’s couture lineage, but do they communicate a sense of surprise, a finger of freshness, or an intimation of ingenuity that was palpable when Morinaga Kunihiko showed similar styles for his label Anrealage? The answer is quite simply no. But Bouchra Jarrar had a second season, so will Olivier Lapidus. So, let’s see.
Photos: (top) Lanvin/Youtube and (catwalk) Indigital. tv