Lanvin: Shine. It’s a noun. It’s a verb. It’s a high-gloss surface, and it’s what the cool kids did in middle school. It’s what we want fashion to help us do, whether literally or symbolically.
Alber Elbaz is happy to oblige. For spring he offered an audacious display of shine — aggressive, even — one that, for all its gloss and glimmer, had an intriguing dark side.
But then, it was inspired in part by a photograph of the brocade-clad women, bride included, at an orthodox Jewish wedding in Jerusalem, their grim visages suggestive of unspoken woes, “everything shining,” the designer said during a preview, “but their eyes.”
He thought, too, about the notion of the clothes as mirrors, to reflect the audience. “But that was just the idea. I also thought, ‘Let’s also bring back regular clothes. Let’s bring sportswear, let’s celebrate the individual.’” And so he did in a collection that dazzled, literally and otherwise.
Elbaz offered fabulously chic clothes to suit every womanly inclination: refined, sexy, elegant, butch, relaxed — everything but puerile, as his aesthetic is consummately adult. Sportswear looks were as casual as a trench over a top and skirt; androgynous tailoring paid clear respect to Saint Laurent, and an elastic-waist jumpsuit both celebrated and mocked its utilitarian roots. Dresses ranged from flappers to sheaths, to a constructed slip and even a long, dark number that swung Goth.
Uniting this tremendous diversity: the endless gloss in a vast array of fabrics — 60 of them — multiple textures of lamés, tweeds, laces, brocades and on and on in a glorious spectrum from earthy golds to the most vibrant jewel tones.
It made for a seriously risky move that could have flopped — even at the high end, shimmer can come off looking cheap. Rather, it all radiated high luxury. Elbaz may be a gentle presence, but he is one gutsy designer.