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"The way the system works now, you see the clothes, within an hour or so they're online, the world sees them. They don't get to a store for six months. The next week, young celebrity girls are wearing them on red carpets. They're in every magazine. The customer is bored with those clothes by the time they get to the store. They're overexposed, you're tired of them, they've lost their freshness".
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1.27.2016

Lanvin

After this show at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Alber Elbaz was brandishing a piece of paper on which he'd written a number of questions to himself in an effort to pin down how he stood with fashion in this particular, troubled moment. Are intuition and need fighting each other ? Is provocation the only way to be noticed ? Is being normal the new retro ? Uniform or individuality ? Today or tomorrow ? And on and on. Tellingly, he would supply no answers to these questions, but it made some sense to look to this collection at hand for clues. Premonition is is. Alber Elbaz -whose soigné designs catapulted Lanvin to become a top fashion house- was ousted last October from the company after a stellar 14-year tenure. In a statement, he characterized his departure as a result of "the decision of the company’s majority shareholder" without naming Shaw-Lan Wang, the Taiwanese publishing magnate who recruited him to revive what she then described as a "sleeping beauty" -the oldest Parisian couture house.
Back on topic, this collection was, according to designer Lucas Ossendrijver, loosely divided into three sections. The first focused on the uniforms of menswear : gray tweeds, glen plaids, pinstripes, army coats and military jackets. The second edged into individuality with prints, fur, a rough-hemmed inside-out feel, and eccentric layering, like a python-fronted bomber laid over a longer jacket in a windowpane check. And, according to Lucas Ossendrijver, the last, most interesting section looked to the future. It was dark, with a hard metallic edge, which instantly put one in mind of Alber Elbaz's question about provocation. "These are hard times", said Lucas Ossendrijver. "There are soldiers everywhere in Paris". His was one of the only explicit acknowledgements in the past few days of the terrorist outrages in Paris, and the stapled skins and padded or bonded fabrics had a definite protective edge. That, of course, could only have been coincidence. The collection would have fallen into place some time before the events. But even without them, there has been a shadow over this season so far, and Lanvin was simply the latest label to recognize it. The early Seventies silhouette signposted an earlier time when things looked grim : vintage coats and high-waisted, deep-pleated pants that puddled on the ground; an elongated cable-knit with a languid cardigan; the palette of maroon and camel. There was a listlessness that extended to powerlessness. But maybe that was the comment that Mr Elbaz and Mr Ossendrijver wanted to make about fashion. They engineered a fundamental rejig of the traditional fashion show format. Rather than the models parading down a catwalk between an audience ranked on bleachers, guests were seated on steps where the catwalk would usually go, so that fashion revolved around the audience. It felt like a shift in power. But what that means is a question that must go as unanswered for now as any of those on Alber Elbaz's piece of paper.

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