I’ve never seen a team so at ease prior to a major show as Lanvin’s Creative Director Alber Elbaz and Menswear designer Lucas Ossendrijver. The pair breezed into the venue at 8:30am, Starbucks in tow, and were so confident with everything going smoothly that neither left the front of house until 30 seconds before the show began. “It’s the first time we’re not backstage!” said Elbaz as he greeted guests, posed for photographs and took interviews. His secret? That age old curer of all ails, a good laugh. “In times like today when everything goes sour, when everything is hard, maybe what we’re looking for is something to lift us up a little bit, you know, a sense of humour,” said Elbaz. “We’re looking for something to cheer us up, and you get a choice: Tylenol, or a Lanvin suit. Good psychiatrist or a coat!”
And trust me, after seeing this collection even the most depressed will take the coat.
A foreboding soundtrack of strings (Vivaldi I believe) set the scene for the most climactic offering of the Paris Autumn/Winter collections. Lanvin’s typical softness was given an injection of traditional masculinity as military inspired looks stormed the runway. Trenches were belted high and tight, and pants tucked into tall boots with thick socks; gotta keep those feet dry on a long march. This was Lanvin’s war against the slump, led by Alber’s Army.
Set in a school, there was something of the collegiate uniform too; maroon, grey, green, navy and beige dominated, but with the Lanvin touch – my high school bottle green blazer didn’t hold a candle to the rich, inky hues seen here. These colours were so rich as to be almost decadent, but like Elbaz said, maybe a suit is what you need right now to cheer the heart.
Speaking of suits, I’m not sure that I saw one in its entirety. Ossendrijver is known to prefer slightly mismatched jackets and pants, and there were plenty of those. Juxtapositions were evident throughout – slim, tailored jackets were paired with the silkiest full, flowing pants, and coats with tight waists flared towards the ground.
And then the music changed. From suspenseful and dramatic to an upbeat Bacharach-esque love song. Out came a smiling, waving Barack Obama (pictured above), complete with navy overcoat and American flag pin on his lapel. If Alber Elbaz gets tired of leading the war against the downturn he can think of one man who’ll keep a smile on our faces.