Meet the woman picked to put soul back into troubled fashion house Lanvin

Why the pressure is on for the storied French label’s new creative director, Bouchra Jarrar, after years of turbulence and a loss of direction that saw her predecessor Alber Elbaz resign last year

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 March, 2016, 12:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 March, 2016, 12:01am

For those who saw Lanvin’s latest catwalk show at Paris Fashion Week just weeks ago, it’s clear that the brand is in serious need of direction and creative leadership. A strange melee of ill-fitting, ‘80s-style outfits inspired by the signature styles of former creative director Alber Elbaz failed to impress the audience. The craftsmen and -women and design studio may be talented, but following the hasty and controversial exit of Elbaz, the collection had no soul.

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

The future of this once-glorious label has been uncertain for the past few seasons and became even more so with the ousting of Elbaz (a Lanvin shareholder) because of a clash with the majority shareholder, Taiwanese mogul Shaw-Lan Wang. A near-revolt in the design studio ensued and details of the row trickled out into the public in what was deemed fashion’s messiest divorce of 2015.

It’s a huge relief, then, to Lanvin fans (including myself) as well as shareholders that a successor has been found – and a talented one at that. Bouchra Jarrar, a Paris-born, Moroccan designer who worked under Nicolas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga for a decade as well as at Christian Lacroix Couture and Jean Paul Gaultier Jewellery, is the woman of the hour.

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Jarrar is known for a style that mixes elegant masculine suiting with feminine drapes and sophistication – and will likely bring a more modern twist to the Lanvin woman. A fan of monotone or muted colours, her take on fashion is very much in line with that of the Parisian elite – structured luxury that somehow looks effortless. It will be interesting to see if her signature tuxedo jackets, modern power suits and a quintessentially French sense of femininity feature for Lanvin. She may have landed one of the biggest jobs in fashion, but Jarrar has also been running her own successful couture and ready-to-wear lines for six years now, and is seen as possessing considerable technical prowess. In sum, she is one of the more established female fashion talents in Paris.

Now that there is a new chapter at Lanvin, additional investment is likely needed to boost the potential of the label, which is often cited as France’s oldest fashion brand (it has more than a century of history). Lanvin as a brand has so much going for it – a heritage that can’t be bought, a good run under the very popular Elbaz even though the past few years have felt tough, a big fashion archive and plenty of high-fashion kudos – so it’s a real shame it has lately lost some of its relevance. But we all love a good rebound story, and the fashion world will be watching Jarrar next season to see if she can deliver something that captivates. It feels like a good time for a brand revival.