“The future’s not ours to see,” Alber Elbaz serenaded the enthralledguests who had just taken in the fall Lanvin fashion show that markedhis 10th anniversary at the house.

The lyrics were particularlyappropriate in this season of volatility elsewhere, and for Elbaz’scareer, in crisis mode in 2001 after his brief tenure at Yves SaintLaurent came to an abrupt end. Few, probably least of all Elbaz himself,would have predicted that little more than a decade later, his starwould be among fashion’s brightest, his success sprung from a delectablecocktail of self-deprecation, incredible talent and an oft-statedbelief in exactly who comes first. “I do not design for journalists,”Elbaz loves to say. “I design for women.” And we believe him. He livesthe mantra season after season — even if the gentleman doth protest toomuch on the matter of his work’s editorial resonance.

On Fridaynight, Elbaz threw a party — a fashion party and a party party. Settingup the latter, after the show, the set backdrop opened to reveal thedesigner onstage with a band, above them an immense glitteringchandelier anchoring a network of lights strung up with little apparentregard for perfection. After Elbaz took his bow and Joey Arias finishedthe song, the party was on. A genuine sense of warmth and happiness forElbaz permeated the event. He has proven himself a soulful member of thefashion community. It’s hard not to like and root for him. But nice-guystatus only goes so far. Elbaz’s star ascended first and foremostbecause of the clothes, which from the outset struck a chord with womenwho connect on a deeply personal level to their artfully wearable, adultallure.

Typically, an elegant mood defines the designer’srunway. This time, he put that attitude on celebratory sabbatical infavor of a presentation almost manic in its pace and visual stimuli.Luckily, the clothes were beautiful, bold and at times, riotouslyfanciful. And always, they made sense. “The responsibility is no longerjust about making a nice piece,” Elbaz said in a preview. “You have theresponsibility, on one hand, to work on the vision, so you have to bringthe newness, and it also has to have a zipper. How do you work withboth?”

As it turns out, quite well, particularly when one ofyour signatures is a wide, curve-accentuating zipper running down theback of a dress. Elbaz said that he wanted this collection to be neitherretrospective nor one-note. That said, he addressed favorite motifswhile focusing mainly on a curvy silhouette, which he took in numerousdirections. He opened with vibrant body dresses worked in a scuba-worthyfoam that gave structure to peplums and collar frills, and ended withindulgent cocktail wonders in whimsical floral prints he did himself,the looks finished with bright gloves, stoles, plastic-and-mirrorsurrealist jewelry and shoes soled in crystals. In between were racyblack leathers, high-glam golden brocades with matching boots, hourglasslooks with monster jeweling and a charming left-field party frock onKarlie Kloss. It all made for a wonderful, frenetic romp — one thatshould continue to the selling floor. Joyeux anniversaire, Alber!

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