Lanvin Ready To Wear Fall Winter 2013 Paris

Alber Elbaz was trying to communicate something to fashion world with his fall/winter 2013 show. And a new message was exactly what this designer needed to stoke the fires of his highly successful house.

Already with the first exit things appeared to be a bit different. The black textural dress, its skirt crafted out of tiers of raw hemmed ruffles was clearly a Lanvin creation. But the use of texture made it feel slightly different. The dress was finished off with two imposing message necklaces, one that said “help” and another that said “happy”.

The necklaces proposed two dramatically different emotional states. Which one would represent this collection in the end? For Elbaz is an emotional designer and such additions to an outfit are significant statements.  He has always put his designs at the service of women and has relentlessly strived to give them sartorial allies as they affront the harsh world around them.

So yes, in a way, it could be extrapolated out that maybe "help" was what Elbaz was giving his customers. They will certainly be grateful for a dress covered in a graphic black butterfly print that wasn’t actually a bustier dress but rather it had been fitted to a nude long sleeve stocking base that concealed the upper body.

This faux bare skin idea was a running theme of the show and felt like the descendant of the “fake” dresses Elbaz did a few years ago where the outline of a colorful dress was superimposed on a darker dress backdrop. In any case the stocking trick was used with a single button black skirt suit, a corset topped cocktail dress adorned with bejeweled bug brooches and deceptively simple looking black shift dress.

A beige leather top embossed with trompe l'oeil pockets, which looked like an escapee from the menswear show, is sure to be another favorite among the brand’s fans. And there were a variety of other Lanvin standbys- floral print dresses, unstructured outerwear, millefeuille ruffled skirts- to chose from too.

It is clear that Elbaz is "happy" to rework the codes he has created for the house for over a decade. Updating the designs and giving them a new twist without pushing the sartorial envelope too far too fast. But it might be nice to see something a bit more unexpected from such a talented designer injected into the mix. After all, a girl still likes to be surprised.

- Jessica Michault

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