Alber Elbaz has discretely reinvented the fabled house of Lanvin, and it’s all about desire.
Just before the latest Lanvin show in Paris, Alber Elbaz was, as is his custom, a nervous wreck, unsure his audience would appreciate a collection he based on flyaway clothes and birds of paradise. Backstage, holding up a crinkled polyester gown with a ruffled edge, he lapsed into one of his freewheeling fashion diatribes. He talked about how the collection explored contradictions between simple and complicated, languid and structured, neutral and colorful. He talked about wanting the dresses to “disappear” on the models so you see only their faces. Then, he paused, looked at the floor, and concluded that his overriding wish, in fact, was to create “emotional clothes.”
Talk about worrying needlessly. By the time his last gown had billowed down the wood-plank runway and Elbaz trundled out for his bow, many in the audience were on their feet and roaring, displaying all sorts of emotions: jubilation, awe, affection and—certainly among a great majority of women present—full-throttle desire for the clothes, the shoes, the bags, the jewelry.
Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Hong Kong–based Lane Crawford, says she was seduced from the minute she heard her heels tapping on the venue’s wooden floor, “as if I were walking on a old-time dance floor or an old-fashioned seaside promenade. Alber brings out the dreams in me. When the show started, my heart soared to want to wear the washed-silk Grecian dresses with trenchcoats in hues of navy, gray and taupe. Then the whoosh of strong red, orange, yellow, jade. Colors started to float through the air like streamers. By the time the white ostrich-feather dress came out, I was sighing and cooing like a woman who had been deprived of clothes all her life!”
And that was not the end of the affair. Rutson says the collection was even better in the showroom: “It took my breath away again.”
Linda Fargo, senior vice president and fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, confesses Lanvin could “single-handedly put me in the poorhouse. Alber is a designer with a soul, a mind and a heart. He’s able to live with his head in the heavens and one foot on the soft earth, perfectly balancing the romance of dressing with the reality of our lives and our bodies.” Try telling him that.
“I had no idea this collection would be good,” Elbaz confides three days after the show over coffee at the hotel Crillon. “I was sure people would hate it.”
If insecurity is the root of great fashion, Elbaz should never give up his fretting and hand-wringing. For after six years at the helm of Lanvin, he has succeeded in rejuvenating a storied brand, creating an identifiable new look and transforming himself into a major fashion star along the way.
Today, the Lanvin show is one of the hottest tickets of the international season, and the rails of its flagship on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré were practically picked clean during fashion week, never mind the strong euro. But Elbaz physically cringes at the mention of the word “momentum” in connection with Lanvin, preferring the quicksand territory of self-doubt that compels him to drive himself and the house to ever-greater heights.
“I’m not sure fashion is just about the here and now. For me, it’s about design and about desire and dreams,” he says, getting into his this-and-that declarations. “Fashion is about creating a need; it’s not about momentum. I hate that word. It’s the most scary thing.”
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)