Many designers working under lockdown embraced escapism, including Lanvin’s Bruno Sialelli, whose fashion therapy was an elevated, coed lineup infused with glamour. Repackaging French elegance for new generations, he fine-tuned classics: double-breasted suits in soft pastels, silky scarves and blouses with blown-up Erté prints, billowing polka-dot dresses and cape-like outerwear.
He finished off looks with turbans, gloves, sunglasses and prominent gold jewelry sets with abstract flower petals. Oh, and handbags. Pulled from the archives, the rigid pencil bag is practically a piece of art — with an arched feline as a handle — designed by Armand-Albert Rateau for Jeanne Lanvin. He also revived the pillowy Sugar bag from the early Aughts.
Men’s looks were equally elevated, and also distinctly revisited. A navy blue suit jacket became a V-neck shirt, styled with a scarf. A brown, suede jacket became two-toned, with a flash of yellow on the cuffs and collar, while a light silky shirt sprouted a hood and drawstring waist.
While the world was sheltering in place and binging on movies and literature, Sialelli was after fantasy.
“It was important to have a reaction to this special, unique period, and it’s true it was interesting to observe a bit the state of mind we were in,” he said, speaking over Zoom. The presentation film and look book were shot at the Palais Idéal, a naive monument built by hand by a French postman in the late 1800s, inspired by castles of his imagination, and from postcards. The lumpy turrets and spiral staircases were an effective backdrop for the clothing, which also seemed to belong to an unidentifiable era.
Sialelli was interested in how previous generations saved up to splash out on tea sets or fine silver — luxury to pass down the family. His great-grandmother was known to proclaim “I’m too poor to make inexpensive purchases.”