Talk of the town: Edie Campbell’s blonde thatch, Kirsten Owens’s mesmeric walk, Amber Valletta’s dramatic undercut. It’s no disrespect to Alber Elbaz that the individuality of the women in his show is what shines out so noticeably from his runway for the house of Lanvin. Au contraire, it’s a mark of his generous nature that he goes out of his way to frame his fashion as inclusive of so many variegated characters and ages. During part of the show, they were walking to the tune of “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas as they sang, “It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.”
Well, of course it does matter what they wore; this is a fashion show—or rather, a very personal demonstration of one man’s extreme skills in cutting and draping silk columns, billowy caftans, roughed-up lace, and ballerina dresses with a weird, mesmerizing low-level sparkle about them. At a time when fashion as a whole seems less about staging sweeping revolutions and more about the strength of individual designers who can take our hands and lead us into their own worlds, Alber Elbaz is firmly in the second camp.
It encompasses long, sexy-simple plain silk evening dresses of the kind only a mature woman can really pull off (the opening passage of the show); suits with subversive raw edges, a weirdly kinky leather coat, and pretty, ingénue party dresses with shoulder straps as fine as threads. Somewhere along the line, Jamie Bochert wore a jacket of 3-D collaged leaves textured almost to seem as if they could have grown naturally from a woodland floor. That jacket didn’t seem to belong to any particularly elaborate narrative, but then again, who needs that? It’s an outstanding, singular one-off piece destined to make someone’s life a little happier. And that, you feel, is overarchingly what Alber Elbaz believes is his mission as a designer.