Wednesday 16 January 2013

Purity and Precision by LANVIN Spring/Summer 2013

Essays in black and white have been a theme ever since Marc Jacobs’s show in New York, but no one has approached it as such a thoroughly personal exercise as Alber Elbaz. “It was really looking at the classics. How to define them, inside and out,” he said. The two things that eternally concern Elbaz are the cut of the fabric and how it can empower the women who wear his clothes to meet the multifarious demands of their lives. “I live with women. I am surrounded by women in my studio. I have a problem doing one idea for a show.” That in itself is a sign of progress this season. Fashion is moving away from the limited, single-statement look, and it’s about time. What’s really riveting now is to see a real master technician who humanizes his work in a broad, inclusive sweep of thought about variety.

You could see where Elbaz was coming from at the outset: the twin lodestars of Parisian chic, the tuxedo pantsuit and the little black dress, but deconstructed in an effortless sequence of variations. These looks came charged with a certain kind of offhand sexuality, the hair swept to one side, every girl walking fast and furious, self-possessed and very much herself in her clothes. The proportions of the pantsuit were defined, refined, riffed on: with cropped bell-hop jackets, or longer, sleeveless gilets, with asymmetric white lapels worked in with half-belts, tied in with Japanese obi-bows. The LBD came with deep-V necklines, slit at one side, cut as a bustier or detailed with an asymmetrical single sleeve, and side-tabs suggesting more of that minimal Japanese subtext. Then he stripped it down to the body, showing erotic swimsuit shapes under pants, and cutting a killer asymmetric halter dress, trailing to one side and suspended from a gold torque on Karlie Kloss.

But as every Lanvin addict appreciates, Alber Elbaz has a maximalist side too. He gave it full vent in a sequence of chunky gold and silver crystal-embroidered suits and dresses, amped up further with jeweled neckpieces and chokers. But in between, there were moments of calm, too: a long, simple black silk column with flat sandals; a couple of black-and-white short-jacketed skirt suits that could do service at a summer wedding or in a boardroom. There was space, too, for draping two really extraordinarily sexy jersey dresses, ruching fabric around the hips and upward across the torso, accomplished as if in one spontaneous gesture.

What if, after all, you don’t see yourself in black and white? Well, Elbaz allows for that, too. He ended with color-blocked duchesse satin dresses in purple, teal, and chrome yellow. Pushed for a encapsulation of the collection after the show, he shrugged, “Well, what it comes down to is purity and precision.” And many hard days and nights of thinking about what his women really want.

Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories 

Photo Credit/Source: © VOGUE
Runway: Photography by © Yannis Vlamos/GoRunway
Details: Photography by © Alessandro Viero/GoRunway

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