The runway was raised at the Lanvin show last week. The cynical side of me wants to believe that Alber Elbaz was make a statement that he's still up there with the best of them in light of the changes at Dior and Saint Laurent. The other side of me, less driven by a good piece of fashion drama, recognises that that was probably not the case. Elbaz has been publicly supportive of the changes at both labels but nonetheless, if the runway construction was coincidental, the message came through in the clothes.
After celebrating his 10th anniversary at the brand last season, Elbaz moved away from nostalgia and instead pushed on forward. This season he seemed inspired by the East, which was apparent particularly on the structured Chinese military-style coats and obi belts on coats. The reference was there but subtle, something that could have been difficult if done by lesser hands. The tailoring was loose, which is something different for Lanvin, but the house's codes were still there. The jewellery continued to come in strong statement metal hardware and a handful of dresses came heavily embellished and one shouldered.
I put all of me into my work. This is all I have: I don't have kids; I don't have a family that I created. But I feel that every day I create a new family. My life in that sense is complete. I find excitement at work; I don't need anything afterwards. At 10 o'clock at night, all I want to do is come home and watch Kim Kardashian get a haircut — it's like a vacation, you don't have to think.
Alber Elbaz is like a hero for women. Without wanting to sound too cliché, he always creates pieces at Lanvin that make women feel and look beautiful and unlike other brands, you don't need to be of a pre-pubescent age and have a model figure to do so. In that light, the casting of their latest campaign makes sense.
As I'm sure you have already seen, the brand's Fall 2012 campaign features real men and women aged between 18 and 82. 'I wanted to see people from different age groups, body shapes and personalities wearing Lanvin,' he told Vogue.com. 'That is what Lanvin is all about and represents - we don't only do clothes for 20 year-old girls. I love to see mature women wearing Lanvin as well. I love wrinkles, I love grey hair.'
Coming from any other brand, the cynic in me would think that the casting was no more than an example of a PR stunt (or PR genius you might say considering the buzz around it), but for Lanvin it just works. 'There was a secret casting in New York and the team who did the casting did a fantastic job,' he explained. 'They sent me all the photos of the anonymous people who had been pre-cast and the day before the shoot, I met them all. It was an unforgettable experience to meet with these beautiful people.'
As the picture above shows, when Raf Simons came out to take his bow at the Dior couture show it was a far cry from his final bow at Jil Sander. This time the tears were replaced with a beaming smile and he has every reason to.
Talking to Style.com after the show, he explained that he's tried to change the way people look at couture so that the pieces have longevity rather than being limited to the being seen through the lens of one red carpet moment:
[I am trying] to change the psychology of people who are interested in couture. The way I’ve been looking at it so far is as a still image, something you look at for that moment. I think lots of people see it as a still, an image from the red carpet. I want to make it more dynamic, appeal to a person who has a different energy. A younger person, in mind, not necessarily in age. And I think couture is very much about curating something unique for women. Fashion is so mass-produced now; I hope there will come a refocus on how people see couture. And I would also hope for a new focus on the craft.
His approach has paid off. Everyone from Cathy Horyn to Alber Elbaz have produced complimentary reviews of his debut and if the praise for couture is anything to go by, we have a lot to expect for his debut ready-to-wear collection in October.
I thought that at a time like now, when the whole industry is about the six minutes of the show and a review that is being written in a taxi because then there is the next one, I thought, I'm going to show everyone how much effort goes into making a single dress. I wanted to show how many threads you have to put together to make one rose; how much thought goes into a button.
Earlier this month we reported that Marc Jacobs moving to Dior was increasingly looking unlikely and now sources confirm that the move is definitely not happening.
LVMH reportedly approached Jacobs back in July after Bill Gaytten's less than impressive couture collection for the house and while Jacobs' move to Dior seemed secure, negotiations fell apart over money and Jacobs wanting to moving his whole Louis Vuitton team to Dior with him. As a result, a source close to Jacobs has confirmed that the designer "declined" the job for good earlier this month, as we reported.
2011 seems to be the year of the fashion book. Christian Louboutin and Mulberry have both released books celebrating their respective anniversaries and this week Alice Temperley is New York promting her new book, 'True British'.
Alber Elbaz is following suit, as the designer confirmed this week that he's working on his first book. Set for release next year, the book will feature 700 pages of words and pictures documenting the designers production and design process at Lanvin.
Much has been made of models use of drugs - hello, 'Cocaine Kate' headlines - but as The Cut point out, not much has been made of the well known drug abuse experienced by designers. In an interview with The Telegraph this week Katie Grand discussed the pressures on designers today since the introduction of two additional seasons citing such pressures as an inevitable - although unexcusable - contribution to John Galliano's downfall at Dior.
Over the weekend Alber Elbaz held a talk at London's Royal Opera House and weighed in on the issue:
"I don't understand this marathon of fashion," he said. "Today, designers are expected to produce work that is bigger, better, faster and — these days — cheaper. A singer can quit once he or she has made ten great songs, a director can finish once he or she has made five amazing films, a writer just needs to write three great books. Now let's look at designers — they produce six to eight shows a year, most designers have a 20-year-long career, so I need to create about 250 collections in that time. Not even Danielle Steel could write 250 books.
This week changes have been announced at Azzaro. Mathilde Castello Branco is confirmed as the new creative director of the brand and will officially take on her role from September 1, meaning that her debut collection will be for Fall 2012.
The Franco-Brazillian designer has quite an impressive CV. After graduating from École Duperré and the Atelier Chardon Savard in Paris, she had a stint at Hermès before serving as a right hand woman for Alber Elbaz at Lanvin for ten years. 'Her principal mission will consist in developing the house's collections (for men and women) whilst drawing on Loris Azzaro's heritage,' a release explained.