A nautical breeze blew over the Lanvin show, held on the outskirts of Paris in a Brutalist building that houses the National Dance Center. Creative director Bruno Sialelli named the collection “Beach Birds” after a 1993 choreography by Merce Cunningham, but the real inspiration for the show was Corto Maltese.
An avowed comics fan, Sialelli referenced the adventurous sailor created by Hugo Pratt in direct and indirect ways. Images of the brooding sea captain, all upturned collar and gleaming cap, appeared as watercolor sketches on jackets and shirts, black-and-white prints on fringed scarves, and intarsia motifs on knitwear.
A navy officer’s coat and a cape with metal clasps sought to channel his allure, but they lacked Maltese’s haughty swagger. With its cartoonish proportions and crafty techniques, Sialelli’s collection skewed more naïf: think cropped sailor pants and trim pea coats, like the one worn by a fresh-faced Luka Sabbat.
The more playful elements also drew on Californian skate culture, as documented in the Seventies by photographer Hugh Holland. Billowing silky pants pooled around chunky skate shoes with super-fat laces, or a couple of frankly hideous sneakers painted with psychedelic flame motifs.
The adolescent vibe meant the presence of female models on the catwalk — including Gigi Hadid and Adut Akech in a pair of sensual ruffled tent gowns from the pre-fall collection — was curiously lacking in sexual sizzle. You can bet Corto Maltese would have asked them to dance.