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“They have a good connotation,” said Alber Elbaz of the ribbon theme he used for his Lanvin fall collection. “Gifts, connecting things.” The motif played itself out in everything from T-shirt style tops to elegant cocktail dresses.

This story first appeared in the March 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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Trim Chance

Alber Elbaz made modern glamour look effortless in the beautiful fall collection he showed for Lanvin, which centered around all sorts of ribbons, including velvet, radzimir and grosgrain. Here, one of his imaginative uses of the trimmings: a blouse and slender, side-ruffled skirt, worn with an imposing Art Deco-style necklace and leather gloves.

Lanvin: Making old glamour new seems a simple, not to mention common, design concept. And how hard can it really be? Well, once Alber Elbaz’s modern, glamorous, gorgeous fall collection for Lanvin took to the runway on Sunday evening, it was immediately clear how many others have attempted to achieve the same effect with much less success.

Whereas Elbaz worked in bright, full-blown polyesters for spring, this season, ribbons were his story. “They have a good connotation,” he said in his studio a few days before the show. “Gifts, connecting things — not bondage, not at all, but bonding.” Thus, he took the traditional trim — various versions in grosgrain, radzimir and velvet — and spun them into elegant nonchalance, much of it literally seamless. One look featured 110 meters of black grosgrain wrapped horizontally for a “T-shirt” top, while below, thicker strips were worked into a pencil skirt, the excess material gathered into a long ruffle. It was chic and discreetly sexy, even more so when he took the motif vertical on skirts and long dresses, whose ribbons revealed sheer tulle beneath.

Since one idea isn’t enough for Elbaz, he supplemented all the ribbon wear with slick duchesse satins, as in a dolman-sleeve trench, and shiny, coated polyester scrunched into a cocktail dress. Throughout, petrol black and blue dominated, but Elbaz broke up the dark scheme with a rumpled blush coat or off-the-shoulder dress and giant chunks of glittering Deco-inspired costume jewelry. And everything, from the drape of a dress to the artful pull of a jacket purposely lined too small, was rife with the kind of subtly inventive details that make Elbaz’s clothes truly special, yet always real and ready to wear.