BEIJING — It’s been five years since Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz last held a show here, an eternity for the fast-developing Chinese capital. Back then, the trendy east-side development that now houses one of Lanvin’s two Beijing boutiques didn’t even exist, along with countless other skyscrapers now dotting the city skyline.
So there was, the designer said, a lot to catch up on in Lanvin’s fashion show here Thursday night.
“I don’t like retrospectives. I always feel quite wrong about doing retro. I am also very superstitious,” Elbaz said in an interview hours before the show, which was held to mark his 10th year at the fashion house. “What I wanted to do tonight is not to bring them a show and a price tag and a location and an address to say go and shop tomorrow….What we want to do tonight is to [bring] back the dream of fashion.”
Lanvin staged a 61-model, 70-look show at the prestigious Beijing Hotel, a red-carpet affair drawing regional celebrities including Chinese starlets Fan Bingbing and Ni Ni, the latter from the film “The Flowers of War,” and Taiwanese-Canadian model Godfrey Gao of last year’s Louis Vuitton campaign.
Mainly drawn from the fall collection, ranging from the closely tailored to pieces dripping with jewels and feathers, the show also included some pieces from Elbaz’s recent archives.
The event — in which Elbaz repeated his end-of-show dance on the runway from the Paris show, though not his solo — was followed by an elaborate after party featuring May Day poles draped with flowers and waitstaff in Lanvin velvet jackets. It capped off an intense day that included a morning press conference with simultaneous Chinese translation and an afternoon, invitation-only signing of 40 copies of Elbaz’s 10th anniversary book.
Lanvin faces a hard sell in China, where its no-logo philosophy runs in stark contrast to the Chinese nouveau-riche taste for the largest, flashiest labels around. It’s also competing with less expensive luxury brands in a market where, despite a fast-rising middle class, the average annual wage in Beijing last year was still the equivalent of $8,900.
For the moment, while other foreign fashion houses are racing to open in China’s second- and even third-tier cities, Lanvin has so far focused only on the top-tier cities of Beijing and Shanghai.
“Our luxury is really sophisticated, elegant, refined, it can be sensual….For these you really need a sophisticated consumer, it is not one that approaches mass luxury,” said Thierry Andretta, Lanvin’s chief executive officer, who was in Beijing along with the fashion house’s president, Madame Wang Shaw-Lan. “[That market in China] is starting. It is the reason that today we are having stores only in the primary cities. We will move into the secondary cities soon, but nothing is yet decided.”
The label will add a fifth boutique to its Chinese operations next month when it opens a third shop in Shanghai Reel; Lanvin also has two boutiques offering ready-to-wear men’s and women’s collections in Beijing.
That’s not to say China is not a key emerging market for the brand. Lanvin has just unveiled a Chinese-language version of its Web site to accompany English, French and Japanese, and men’s wear designer Lucas Ossendrijver said Asian clients are accommodated with lighter fabrics and color choices to go with warmer climates.
Otherwise, Lanvin is Lanvin, even in Asia.
“For me, all women around the world are alike. They all like a red dress, they all like a bit of chocolate before bed, they all cry at the same things. I don’t see there is a difference, in the end, between an Asian woman and an American woman,” Elbaz said.
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.
@beyonce chose a custom gown by @falgunishanepeacockindia for mother @mstinalawson 's second annual Wearable Art Gala last night. The gown, which took 10 days to make, was inspired by Nubian warrior queen Amanishakheto. Reporting by @hernameislex . #wwdeye 👑 🐝#beyonce
After dressing @justintimberlake for his Super Bowl halftime performance last month, @stellamccartney has designed the star’s "Man of the Woods" tour wardrobe. Timberlake will be wearing a mix of pieces from McCartney’s fall men's collection as well as custom designs and items from his own closet. #wwdfashion