Today, a serious discussion about design is as likely to focus on technology as fashion, Alber Elbaz noted in a preview. Thus, his entry point for fall at Lanvin: “Can we introduce hardware in softwear?”
Elbaz found his answer not in the slimmed second-generation iPad, but in a drawer full of fashion hardware — buttons, grommets, bar closures — that, when reconfigured and resized, took on a sleek, techy feel, providing embellishment of the unfussy geometric sort. It made for a boldly beautiful collection.
Elbaz showed in the Tuileries, a giant rectangle cut into his set to reveal a massive tree, its imposing branches forming a dramatic arch from which his models emerged. If a connection existed (it certainly wasn’t Elbaz going crunchy-granola), it was a statement of power, this mighty natural wonder a backdrop for a fashion show about a new kind of power woman. But that may be a stretch. Sometimes a big, beautiful tree is just a big, beautiful tree.
Either way, the Lanvin woman is indeed a study in stylish strength. Elbaz addressed her simply to start, with a precisely cut black suit with metal fixtures near the neck, worn under the shadow of a large-brimmed hat. The lineup continued with austere coats, suits and dresses. Along the way the hardware became more obvious and flamboyant, expanding into large medallions and 3-D flowers — the latter a harbinger. A fabulous look here: The off-the-shoulder long-sleeved cocktail dress, its severity both tempered and enforced by one such crystal-and-metal bloom. This was not Elbaz’s only striking proposal for evening. In a brilliant move, he took everyday sweaters — a turtleneck dress, for example — and transported them to special with the addition of big mousseline poufs at the shoulders.
This was one way of transitioning from austerity to a rendering of sophisticated feminine. The trip included various takes on a rose print, most dramatic in black-on-black with a single huge white blossom in front, alluring laces and new variations of the unfettered, caftan-inspired gowns that have become a house signature. Elbaz finished with a series of short cocktail dresses, variously draped and sculpted in front, their backs typically plain for ease of wearing. These came in vibrant floral shades — yellows, pinks, reds, corals.
“On one end, technology, and on the other, flowers,” the designer said. “The double sides of women.” Each one a study in high chic.