It’s a new age at Lanvin — at least Fosun Fashion Group hopes it is. On Wednesday, Bruno Sialelli, most recently head of men’s wear at Loewe, presented his debut collection for the embattled house, which has struggled to generate heat since Alber Elbaz was dismissed in October 2015.
Showing at the Musée Cluny, Sialelli offered a solid, directional foundation, borrowing quite a bit from the Loewe playbook of soft tailoring, scarfy layers and craft touches for a more casual, daywear-driven approach to luxury than fans of the brand under Elbaz may be used to.
“We know Lanvin is an eveningwear house where you find beautiful flou and colors,” Sialelli said during a preview. “But Jeanne [Lanvin] was also one of the first to do a wide proposition of women’s wear, men’s wear and sportswear, curtains and furniture….She was what we would call today a lifestyle [designer],” he added, hinting at his ambitions for his new role, which has him designing both men’s and women’s, as well as launching accessories, starting with the Hook soft bucket bag that came down the runway.
Sailelli ticked off a vast number of collection influences, from the erotic sailors in Werner Fassbinder’s film “Querelle,” to Jeanne Lanvin’s affinity for medieval art and exotic travel, to South American folklore, all of which added up to an earthy eclecticism, starting with a blue sailor jacket with brown leather ties, worn over a black-and-white print caftan stamped with the mother-and-child artwork of the house’s famed Arpege fragrance. Lanvin blue turned up several times, in a well-tailored peacoat with rounded collar and lapels, over a raw-edged khaki-colored godet skirt. Classic-looking plaid check blanket shawls accented soft blazers or were cut into minis, while a dress with allover embroidery of tiny foxes added countryside whimsy.
Silk scarf prints scrawled with verse and medieval images of knights and dragons were made into blouses, tunics and drawstring trousers layered underneath jeans, hems left to flutter at the ankles for a cool look. And softly draped print dresses were emblazoned with sketches of fair maidens.
Adding a sweet note, the designer used artwork by Babar on a silk and knit twinset. “I was walking on the Seine, where they sell cutouts of old Babar books, and like every boy in France I grew up with Babar,” Sialelli said. South American-inspired knit sweaters, arm warmers and more seemed a bit of eclecticism overkill, though.
All of 31 years old, the designer’s challenge will be to attract a new customer to Lanvin after two false starts that have done nothing to help the value of the brand name in the luxury market. Part of what he has going for him is youth — and an encouraging-sounding insight into what the consumer wants today.
“It’s important for Lanvin to get back to a directional message,” he said, noting that part of his idea is to bring the men’s and women’s collections closer together, including sharing shop windows. “This is how we shop today; women go to the men’s department to get a shirt, men go to women’s for a beautiful pink sweater. I buy Celine jumpers. They don’t want to hear it’s men’s or women’s. They don’t really care. It’s not about gender fluidity, it’s just a fact. It’s how people are shopping now.”