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A seasoned talent who launched her signature house in 2010 and earned the haute couture appellation in 2013, Jarrar recently indicated she was open to collaborations with other brands, having signed on last month to do a high jewelry collection for Mauboussin, debuting in July.
This story first appeared in the March 9, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“I want to develop my scope of expression,” she told WWD at the time.
The likelihood of a deal with Lanvin could not immediately be learned, but it is understood the house plans to announce its new women’s designer in the coming weeks.
A Lanvin spokeswoman said the house doesn’t comment on rumors.
Jarrar could not be reached for comment.
Known for her exacting silhouettes, Jarrar has accrued a cultlike following for her streamlined sportswear, and takes an old-school approach to fashion, putting quality and technical finesse ahead of razzmatazz.
She certainly places more of an emphasis on daywear than Alber Elbaz, who was ousted from the house last October after a stellar 14-year tenure, during which he made Lanvin synonymous with soigne cocktail dresses.
It is understood Lanvin plans to engage Jarrar for women’s categories only, unlike Elbaz, who also oversaw the men’s department.
Sources said Lucas Ossendrijver is in contract talks and seeking to secure autonomy for the men’s department, echoing the set-up at Dior and Louis Vuitton, which have long had separate creative chiefs for men’s and women’s.
Elbaz tapped Ossendrijver in 2005 from Dior Homme to rejuvenate Lanvin men’s wear, and the Dutchman echoed his use of couture fabrics and designs etched with industrial detailing.
Born in Cannes, France, Jarrar has long praised the approach of couturiers in the Fifties and Sixties such as Cristóbal Balenciaga and Gabrielle Chanel, who exalted women with their pristine and sculptural designs.
After graduating from Paris’ Duperré School of Applied Arts in 1994, Jarrar worked on Jean Paul Gaultier’s licensed jewelry collection for two years before arriving at Balenciaga under Josephus Thimister.
When Nicolas Ghesquière took the creative helm, she served as his studio director until 2006, helping to create ready-to-wear collections that approached couture. She logged a brief stint at Jean-Louis Scherrer and then, eager to delve deeper into high-fashion techniques, joined Christian Lacroix in 2008 as couture head of design.
Lacroix, who exited his namesake house in 2009 when it shrunk to a licensing operation, encouraged her to establish her name and house.
Last year, Mode et Finance, the French venture capital firm managed by Bpifrance, made a minority investment in Jarrar’s business, with the designer holding 74 percent. Mode et Finance also has a stake in Lemaire and has made investments in Yiqing Yin, Each x Other, Ami, Nicolas Andreas Taralis and other brands.
“For me, fashion is first and foremost a matter of proportions — the lines and the cut,” she told WWD. “My objective is a defined look because our lives today are very fast, we are working women, we’re strong, we’re self-sufficient, and my clothes have to bring something — power, but without being aggressive, a defined look. It’s a look, it’s elegance, it’s Paris. It’s really an attitude.”
Following Elbaz’s ouster, Lanvin relied on a studio helmed by Chemena Kamali and Lucio Finale to realize its pre-fall and fall collections. Its runway show last week received lackluster reviews.
Kamali had recently joined Lanvin as design director for women’s rtw from Chloé, while Finale had been promoted to creative director of women’s bags and shoes after one year as its head designer of women’s bags.
Lanvin’s new women’s designer will be faced with stemming sliding sales — and making headway in the lucrative handbags business.
While Elbaz received acclaim for his runway designs, the house has struggled to find success with leather goods, and compete against larger, more well-funded rivals.
The company’s consolidated sales have been eroding, expected to fall to around 200 million euros, or $218.5 million at current exchange last year, versus a peak of more than 250 million euros, or $273 million, only a few years ago, according to sources.
Lanvin’s works council contested the ouster of Elbaz, concerned about the impact on its economic and social welfare, and faced off against management at the Tribunal de Grande Instance last December.
The court was told that Lanvin’s profits declined from 11.9 million euros, or $15.3 million, in 2012 to 5.7 million euros, or $7.5 million, in 2013 and 2.9 million euros, or $3.9 million, in 2014.
Unlike many of its larger rivals, the brand — which marked its 125th anniversary in 2014 — is dependent on its wholesale partners, which account for approximately 70 percent of revenues, with only about 30 percent of sales streaming in from direct retail.
Lanvin’s new designer will need to forge ties with majority owner Shaw-Lan Wang and re-galvanize a house built around Elbaz’s vision and ebullient personality.
It is understood management considered a range of young talents, including Simone Rocha, Huishan Zhang and Erdem Moralioglu, for the plum Paris post.
Wang bought Lanvin from L’Oréal in 2001, recruited Elbaz and left him a free hand to reinvent the business with chic cocktail dresses, chunky costume jewelry, ballerina flats, dressy sneakers and modernist men’s wear.
His fashion shows — typically with dramatic lighting, pounding techno and carnival refreshments — ultimately became one of the highlights of Paris Fashion Week.
Elbaz has yet to indicate his future intentions, which are said to include launching a signature fashion house.