The review originally appeared as part of the story “Maison Margiela, Lanvin and Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2017.” Read the full story here.

In her first outing for Lanvin, Bouchra Jarrar unsettled familiar notions very differently. It’s typical when a new designer takes over at an established house that she will do a deep dive into the archive, discover the “codes,” and find the points of convergence between them and her own vocabulary.

Not so with Jarrar. “I’ve been chosen for one thing,” she said during a preview in advance of her debut collection. “This is to be me, to make what I am, and I am interested in making fashion of today. So it’s Bouchra Jarrar for Lanvin. It’s Bouchra inspired by Lanvin.”

That self-assurance proved well-placed, as Jarrar’s first collection for the house was a study in unstuffy chic. It may also have been a study in savvy, as well. Unlike so many designers who find employment at major houses, Jarrar must come to grips not with the legacy of founder Jeanne Lanvin, but that of Alber Elbaz, who brought the house back from Nowheres-ville to the forefront of fashion, along the way making himself a beloved industry personality. He casts quite a shadow.

So it was smart for Jarrar to announce her arrival at Lanvin by doing Bouchra. She started with the elements that have won her acclaim — the perfect tailoring, the play of black and white, the incongruous pairings of materials — and worked from there. A pragmatist at heart, Jarrar believes that luxury (even couture) can function for everyday. Thus, her attention to tony sportswear, starting with her favorite combination: a perfecto jacket over pants. She went more languid with pin-striped suitings. That was Jarrar’s way of unsettling familiarity — Lanvin under Elbaz was never a go-to stop for tony separates. To that end, her era at Lanvin could be marked by the emergence of a business in chic basics — along the lines of first, Hedi Slimane and now, Anthony Vaccarello at YSL, only far more refined and not at all retro. That said, Jarrar knows that cocktail and evening are the backbone of the Lanvin identity. Here, she pushed herself to deliver flou in sheer, diaphanous white kilts, saucy minidresses and lovely bi-color gowns.

Still, Jarrar may find her confidence and her range tested. On the former point, she takes over the creative helm of a challenged business; both retail and wholesale have declined significantly since Elbaz’s departure. On the latter, while Jarrar has presented a new course for Lanvin, hers is a very specific vocabulary. It’s already highly refined. Now, her challenge will be to advance it.

The review originally appeared as part of the story “Maison Margiela, Lanvin and Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2017.” Read the full story here.

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