It’s been a bumpy start for Olivier Lapidus at Lanvin. Having cobbled together his first collection last season in just 40 days, his sophomore effort came less than a week after the official announcement that Chinese group Fosun International has acquired a majority stake in the struggling French fashion label.
That he managed to produce a coherent collection under the circumstances is no small feat. The condensed lineup this time was a more faithful reflection of his personality and interests, which skew toward technology (Lapidus holds more than 11 patents for innovations including fabric made with fiber optics).
Inspired by founder Jeanne Lanvin’s relationships with the artists of her time, he searched for a relevant connection for today, alighting on Krista Kim, the founder of a movement called Techism, which fosters dialogue between art and technology.
Her digital images of LED lights informed the color palette of the clothes, which ranged from bold block colors to gradient effects on satiny coats and shimmering evening gowns. The latter were made from a specially developed silk Neoprene that conferred both structure and lightness.
Telegraphing a sporty attitude, Lapidus layered fine turtlenecks under everything from a ruffled organza top to a red-and-purple plastic trench. “This woman is more fashion conscious than fashion victim,” he said during a preview. “This brand stands for quality in a world that increasingly caters to the Internet with disposable fashion.”
In a concession to our tech-obsessed lifestyles, leather jackets featured zipped iPad compartment in the back, while brightly colored bag straps (which doubled as belts) came with removable smartphone pouches.
Stirrup pants and streamlined pieces in leather, like a long orange pencil skirt worn with a nude top, brought to mind Claude Montana, who designed haute couture for Lanvin in the early Nineties. So did the high-waist pants with jeweled belt buckles by Elie Top.
That’s not a bad chapter of the label’s heritage to mine, given fashion’s current obsession with the Eighties. It also points to a path for Lanvin to reboot, outside of the long shadow cast by former creative director Alber Elbaz since his departure three years ago.