The day before the inauguration of the new exhibition honoring the work of designer Jeanne Lanvin at the Musée Galliera, the man who made her name relevant to a whole new generation of women unveiled his fall/winter 2015 collection.
This year, Alber Elbaz will have been the creative director of Lanvin for fifteen years. But you wouldn't know it from this show. The designer was as much a sartorial explorer — daring, experimenting and reimagining — tonight as any upstart designer with something to prove.
Perhaps it was the brand's looking at its heritage in preparation for the exhibition that got Elbaz reflecting on his own past. "I thought today maybe it was time to go back to my roots. To where I was born— Morocco,” revealed the designer after the show.
The emotion and personal nature of each piece were palpable and helped make this collection one of the best Elbaz has ever done. The subtle way he introduced his regional reference points, so that he hinted rather than highlighted their origins, was masterfully executed.
The colorful three-dimensional passementerie of a caftan was transferred onto pants or fitted coats. The tassels of a Fez hat became the diagonal fringing on dresses, or ornamented the end of rope belts. While peasant blouses grew into fluid voluminous dresses, which the designer grounded with interesting leather harnesses that embraced just one side of the body.
For evening Elbaz offered rich metallic jacquards and jewel-hued dresses worn with long-haired fur outerwear. These were the pieces that the designer was probably referring to when he talked about researching traditional wedding dresses from his native country and how the family passed those decorative garments down from one generation to the next. These runway ensembles will certainly have the same future in store for them as they are eventually gifted from mother to daughter.
Watching the show, it was hard not to think of the sway that Morocco had on another industry-defining designer — Yves Saint Laurent. But Elbaz unquestionably made the inspiration entirely his own.
"You wrap it on and you are hugged by fashion," said the designer about his desire to embrace his customers via his clothing. And who doesn't want to be hugged by Alber?