Saturday, September 30, 2017

Lanvin // Spring 2018 //

'Apprehension' isn't strong enough a word to describe the emotion felt when it was announced during the summer that Lanvin would be restructuring, attempting to poise itself as the "French Michael Kors"... 'Fear', perhaps, would be infinitely more appropriate. What Jeanne Lanvin created all those years ago symbolised a shift in women's fashion. Along with Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet, the trifecta of pioneering female fashion designers defined a moment in history and for the role of women. When Alber Elbaz arrived in 2001 he captured the hearts of the fashion industry's elite with his whimsical and womanly approach to the brief. He made Lanvin his own and although an acquired taste, it had a sense of purpose, a discernible point-of-view and it's view of women was positive. Infamously, he was unceremoniously fired after arguments with owner Shan Wan Lang in 2015, after 14 years carving the brand's niche market. His departure prompted plummeting sales and the his successor Bouchra Jarrar was ousted after 16 months, two seasons worth of clothing under her belt. Olivier Lapidus' appointment signifies the brand's step towards repositioning. He will usher us into the "French Michael Kors"-era of a former couture house, whose credibility and reputability has rapidly disintegrated in a mere few years.

Lapidus' background is in e-couture. Some may consider his work innovative... it certainly presents couture in an unconventional manner. Generally, it is about atelier visits, meeting with the designers. Women wealthy enough to afford the luxury of couture receive a tailor-made, unforgettable experience. E-couture defeats that purpose, in this critic's opinion. However, it points to the brand's desire to communicate with the digital generation with a designer whose background is in e-commerce. But that doesn't necessarily mean it will be a match made in heaven. It isn't. It's an awful pairing and it was apparent from the outset.
Many will return to the first look of this show. Binx Walton, who seldom walks shows nowadays, was the first out in an unflattering little black dress. Yes, not only did Lapidus disembowel the house's integrity with a pitiful excuse of a collection but he also shattered the powerful image of the little black dress. Relied on by women globally, I don't think they will queue, or go out of their way, to purchase one of the ones at Lanvin. The same goes for the rest of the ill-fitting dresses seen on the runway at the Grand Palais. They were emotionless and defeated the purpose of fashion. They were mere clothes. He contrasts pinks and reds, but they weren't flirty or fun—they were downright bleak. His silk dresses would serve better as dishcloths. 

A depressing affair, one lamented the loss of a great fashion brand to the digital age and internal disputes. Lapidus plastered his dresses with the Lanvin logo. As many have astutely pointed out, why would anyone want to wear a logo-print dress when the logo means nothing? In general, the logo revival has already been butchered at Paris Fashion Week. One already had to survive Maria Grazia Chiuri's commodification of feminism with pointless slogan t-shirts earlier in the week. Lapidus joins her as another offender. 

If the aim was to appeal to a younger audience they were unsuccessful. Lanvin has never been one for the younger audience. It has long been about a sophisticated mature woman. One is highly doubtful she will be moderately intrigued by the coldness of these garments. One doesn't foresee this to be a lasting relationship. The revolving door of fashion designers looks like it will keep spinning and spinning. Maybe someday, someone will make things right. For now? Enjoy poor craftsmanship and dreadful design. Or don't.

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