For a few years now one topic of conversation and debate that would generally bubbled up at fashion dinners or cocktails would be who, hopefully in many many years from now, would eventually replace Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel. Alber Elbaz’s name always made it onto the short list.
At his fall/winter 2014 show for Lanvin on Thursday night that prospect must have bubbled up in the minds of more then a few front row spectators, as they watched Elbaz’s latest collection hit the catwalk.
The show opened with raw edge tweeds. The first exit, a tired ruffled coat, is a Lanvin staple silhouette, but the tweed fabric gave the piece a new attitude. Then in quick succession came a tiered dress, asymmetrical skirt and ruffle collared coat all in black or salt and pepper frayed tweed. Making it almost impossible not to think of Chanel. Then like a sartorial palette cleanser, a dress made out of a single piece of buttery black leather that enveloped the model in a graceful deceptively, simple-looking design appeared. It was undeniably an Elbaz creation and marked a shift back into ensembles that stuck to the codes of the Lanvin house while continuing to push them into unexplored avenues.
There were the full-bodied fur coats; the liquid silk bias cut dresses that lapped the body, a gorgeous olive green leather trench and fringe embellished short dresses for evening. Each ensemble felt both familiar and new. Like pieces you joyfully rediscover, tucked away in the back of your wardrobe.
Slotted into those designs came a square silk dress outlined in pearls or a series of ensembles cut in a black and white floral fabric that could have been an abstract take on Coco Chanel’s beloved camellia flower. It made for an interesting mélange of a show and gave a pleasant tension to the collection.
Elbaz has now clocked in over a decade at Lanvin. But he is still challenging himself and the codes of the brand he has brought back to life.
Doesn’t that sound like another designer we all know so well?