Experimental feature

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Experimental feature

At Lanvin SS16, Alber Elbaz had taken the toile and spun a collection from his 14-year archive of work at the label. For him, the toile, the first prototype of a garment as it journeys from the fitting room to the shop floor, “shows the emotion and the human touch on the body, the truth of our métier . . . I wanted to rediscover the beauty and importance of the design process more than just perfectly finished clothes on the runway.”

Elbaz’s deft workmanship never allows things to look “perfectly finished”: raw-edged seams and loose skeins of cotton are as much a part of his Lanvin as is the asymmetric drape. For SS16, this rawness had new vigour; a black tuxedo jacket was slashed across the waist and worn with a skirt, still threaded with white cotton darts and cropped above the knee. A silk ruffle and scarf detail echoed the fall of fabric wound around the body as one might drape a dummy in the atelier.

Elbaz had used “body dresses”, flesh-coloured corsets on which he had installed gowns — his take on a sexy dress that could be democratically enjoyed. But I found the fleshy transparencies a little unnerving.

Despite the subtleties of the reveal, and the study of the body, there were other elements here that sang a little louder. A vivid handbag print, and dresses daubed with Elbaz’s handwriting that read “Faubourg Saint-Honoré”, the house’s original home address, were an interesting branding exercise, and the show had lairy bright sequin separates and flounces which whispered of the showgirl. Very Pigalle.

For more reports from the shows, go to our fashion weeks page on FT.com

Photographs: Catwalking

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