Lanvin looks in need of a new creative force after weak Paris showing

A few highlights aside, the oldest French fashion house’s first catwalk presentation since Alber Elbaz left lacked coherence or the femininity associated with the storied label

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 March, 2016, 1:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 March, 2016, 10:03am

Lanvin showed its first collection since the departure of creative director Alber Elbaz at Paris Fashion Week, and the results were a little troubling. Many were left cold and unimpressed by a collection that was skilfully made, with many signature shiny, satiny Lanvin fabrics, but tied together with a message that was neither coherent nor compelling.

There were a few lovely fur-lined coats, and a powder-blue peplum dress that was really very pretty, but overall, the line had trouble with baggy, unappealing silhouettes and inexplicable ’80s-style padded shoulders and prom sleeves. Of course Lanvin under Elbaz often played with big, structured shoulders, but this was always balanced with clever tailoring, a general fluidity or a cool elegance.

Twitter reaction to the Lanvin show

Here the effect was a little too costume-party, and not sleek or feminine enough for the Lanvin fan. High frilly collars, peplum everywhere and heavy fabrication just added to the issue.

The faces of those watching said it all. One fashion editor was heard to say after the show, “Lanvin is dead.” That’s going too far; the collection was a major hiccup rather than a harbinger of the brand’s imminent demise.

As we learned at Dior’s first collection post-Galliano or the John Galliano label’s first collection post-Galliano, it’s tough for even the most talented design studio to put out an inspired show having just lost a high-calibre creative director.

The talented and well-liked Elbaz returned Lanvin to profit, and had been at the brand for 14 years when he was pushed out last season amid rumours of a dispute with Taiwanese majority shareholder Shaw-Lan Wang. There was the threat of revolt among the studio’s 300-odd staff when he left, Vogue reported. This was not a clean break-up.

Let’s not forget, though, that Lanvin is still the oldest French fashion house in operation, with over 125 years of history, and was the first to survive its founder’s death. So this is not the end, but the brand must quickly find an inspiring creative leader to pull together its disparate strands and smooth over the open discord at the house. A new era is needed, and new vision to go with it.