This Friday, Lanvin will celebrate the opening of its Pacific Place boutique with a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by Tony The Lover Leung Ka-fai. Young, handsome and undeniably sexy, Leung is exactly the sort of man Lanvin is hoping to lure into its menswear section. With the emergence in this last decade of the millennium of that former oxymoron, the fashion-literate male, every fashion house with a menswear designer on board is looking at the youth market. All those Internet millionaires have to buy their clothes from somewhere, after all. Lanvin, of course, may not be the obvious first port of call for a dot.com mover and shaker but its men's designer, Dominique Morlotti, is aware of how quickly a house can change its image. Sitting in his showroom on the Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris, the day before his autumn/winter 1999/2000 collection, he confesses himself amazed at the stunning makeover of which other brand names are capable. 'Look at an old English firm which I won't mention,' he says (clearly referring to Burberry's, which has done a superb job of transcending the chasm between wouldn't-be-seen-dead-in and to-die-for). 'Those raincoats and checks, it's incredible! The same as Gucci - 15 years ago, nobody wanted Gucci, people would say: 'Are you crazy?' if you mentioned it. But suddenly something new is existing in the fashion world.' Mr Morlotti knows of what he speaks: his background in fashion has been lengthy and catholic. He started with Ted Lapidus in 1975, in 1980 Pierre Balmain asked him to look after its menswear collection and in 1983, he was appointed director of men's fashion at Christian Dior. He joined Lanvin in 1992 in order to oversee both the men's and women's lines. Now Cristina Ortiz, formerly the women's design director at Prada (another label which knows about the art of reinvention), is running the womenswear line - and so Mr Morlotti is able to sit in calm contemplation of his forthcoming men's show. It was not always thus. In his 25 years on the fashion treadmill, he has gone through what he calls 'periods without air' when the pressure of meeting deadlines has left him breathless. There have been moments when he has filled in a cheque with a date two years down the line because that is the season he is living with: in fashion you can miss the present because your eyes are so narrowly fixed on the future. 'You have to step back and say 'OK, I'm going to breathe',' he says. 'Some people go and see a [psychiatrist]. I went a few times. The shrink gives you the ability to solve problems, to find an easy way to understand what's going on.' Has it changed him? 'I hope so. They say, at the fittings, that I'm more calm. I think I have more confidence, I'm a little less afraid. There is still some stress but I think there is a need for that.' Part of his overdose of stress surely sprang from the launch of his own menswear company, Dominique Morlotti, in 1990. He was unlucky in his timing - the Gulf War and a three-week transportation strike combined to make the business unworkable and he filed for bankruptcy in France in 1996. 'The company still exists,' he points out, mildly. 'I saw the accounts and nobody was paying us. I stopped production because I was not strong enough to fight such a big disaster and I wanted to keep the image of my name respectable, for Lanvin and for myself.' So it is a sleeping beauty? 'Exactly. For the last eight months I've been talking to a French industrialist to go into menswear. But there are a lot of taxes in France, it's difficult - that's why the French now go to England and Ireland to set up companies.' Still, Mr Morlotti's loss is Lanvin's gain although he chooses not to see it quite that way. 'I'm sure there is more of myself in Lanvin than there was before,' he agrees. 'But it's not because of that. It's because I'm more confident and because Lanvin allows me to do different things.' The 'different things' include playing around with new textures and shapes. Lanvin has to walk the stylistic tightrope between attracting new clients and retaining the old ones who presumably like its traditional classic look. 'Of the 85 silhouettes I will show this time, 10 or 12 will be classical,' says Mr Morlotti. 'There are a lot of jackets with no padding, made like pyjamas or shirts. That's not because of the year 2000, that's for a new consumer. There's a new generation, aged 30 or 40, with money, and they spend it on leisure, travel, their cars and clothing.' It so happens that Mr Morlotti will celebrate a significant birthday as the millennium begins: on January 8, 2000, he will turn 50. 'I've always been attracted by older people,' he remarks wryly. 'When I was seven or eight, I listened to people of 25 to learn something. Now I'm learning from younger people. Age is not a matter for me.' What about inspiration? 'I read an interview with Ennio Morricone [the popular composer] and he said that inspiration is work, work, work and stress. When you have a piece of white paper in front of you, you have to go.' After this interview, in fact, he was about to go off to compose music ('Oh, now you have a link in your story') for a friend's film. He has composed the music for his last five collections but has not created any for autumn/winter: 'I wanted to cut it because it was a habit everyone was getting used to, not a caprice.' So there will be no Morlotti soundtrack when Lanvin holds its gala fashion show on Friday at the Island Shangri-la's Petrus restaurant. Nor will Mr Morlotti himself be present. 'One of my frustrations is that I never see my show except on video. But once, 10 years ago at Dior, I went discreetly into the room, and it was awful. You anticipate everything, so I had the feeling it all came out on the runway too late and stayed too long. I will never do that again.'