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.
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