At fashion week, there’s no such thing as a rain date. But maybe there should be — or at least when there is a downpour in the forecast, a contingency plan that involves more than handing out large, unwieldy umbrellas and plastic ponchos, as was the case at the soggy-wet Lanvin show Wednesday morning in the gardens outside the Musee de Quai Branly.
Oh well, everyone complained — and they survived — but balancing an umbrella, phone, notebook and the massive headphones required for the show’s “physically immersive…3-D sound” experience, was a lot, and took away from the main event, the coed comics-trippy collection.
Before things got really wild, the strongest propositions were in architectural tailoring, which designer Bruno Sialelli showed first. A dramatic white cape-back shirt over black shorts; cocoon jacket and trouser suits; sleeveless tops with cutaway backs, and flyaway ties at the wrists over a grid patterned skirt made for a zippy update on ladylike swan dressing. And the trippy marinière blue-and-white stripe knit tunic dress over pants was a welcome new spin on a classic, as was the covetable khaki toggle coat. It’s probably where the collection should have begun and ended.
But there was more, a lot more. After using artwork of beloved pachyderm Babar for fall, Lanvin designer and admitted comics nerd Sialelli used the circa 1905 strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland” on prints for spring.
Childhood reminiscence, the thirtysomething designer said during a preview, is a pillar of inspiration he’s trying to develop at the brand.
“The most important element to re-contextualize the house today is to play with emotions, more than to design couture, or categories,” he said of the 130-year-old house with a mother-and-child logo.
One could relish in nostalgia for printed matter by reading whole pages of stories about little boy Nemo and his Surrealist dreams not just on T-shirts and scarves, but on a shirt with extra-long sleeves, an asymmetrical skirt or micro pleat lame caftan for women; and for men, a rumpled button down shirt, worn untucked with a baby blue-stripe cargo pants and anorak ensemble that read like pajamas. (Plush duvet coats also drove home the Slumberland feeling, and a longing for a warm bed.)
It all felt a bit like a fever dream, with overworked clothes, checkerboard knits, resin bucket bags, furry shoes resembling wet paws in the rain, and much more creating sensory overload.
Strangely, with the finale dresses, where things should have revved up, they fell flat. It’s a shame because the designer took great care to research how to replicate mukesh, an ancestral embroidery from Egypt that Jeanne Lanvin collected. To make the Grecian draped dresses of linen mesh set with gold staples, and strewn with sequins, he had to search far and wide to find the last female seamstresses in India who could do the handcraft, and they spent 15,000 hours on the work. It’s a story that could have merited its own collection.
Worth noting also is that, with 64 looks, this show was too long, which is an epidemic this season. People don’t have the attention span to look at, or to scroll through an online gallery of, it all, and repeating the same thing over and over (Dior, YSL) dilutes a seasonal message just as much as Lanvin showing too many things — drip, drip, drip.