Lanvin Womenswear SS13

Alber Elbaz wiped the slate clean and focused on classicism

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The choice of venue was telling as show goers were shuffled in to École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts with spotlit Grecian statues hovering above us, imposing the tone on what would be a significant shift for Alber Elbaz's tenure at Lanvin. Last season's ten year anniversary bash gave cause to celebrate all that he had achieved with all his signature Alber-isms that have made Lanvin so well-loved. This season, it was about starting all over and not resting on Elbaz's laurels perhaps. The core of the collection centred around the square proportions that are so vaulted in classicist architecture, which was the starting point for Elbaz. "This was an exercise to see if I could push yesterday with tomorrow, using contemporary lines with different constructions.  Every piece in this collection is a square. I think it was an intuitive thing as I started with classicism, then I came here to the École des Beaux-Arts, then I read an article about classicism and it's very bizarre that it all came together."

What the lofty theories of classicism translated to in the collection was a more purist way of construction, beginning with a take on Le Smoking, passing through asymmetric lean 'n' mean waistcoats, then taking us to high-necked print dresses that hung like tabards from the front and ending with jewel-toned satins constructed into rectangular dresses that stood away from the body as a structural feat for Elbaz. Much of this deconstructed classicist exercise was rendered in black, which was an important non-colour starting point for Elbaz and the fabrics too with everything from duchesse satin to duchesse polyester achieved a newfound sense of focus. Gone was the final sparkly passage and jolly old time soundtrack of yesteryear Lanvin shows and instead, his whimsy was injected into some geometric mirrored beaded pieces as well as one lonesome tiered lace prom dress with a bow tied around the neck.

With all the talk of classicism and purity though, Elbaz was keen to stress that this wasn't a minimal show.  Instead this was Elbaz pushing himself to another level, to see how he can dress and please women in a different way. A grosgrain bow for instance has found its way into many a Lanvin collection but this time round, it was flattened, placed in manner of a Japanese obi belt and used to punctuate the collection. This was especially effective when running up the sides of a boxy strapless dress, tapping into this season's prevailing theme of women wrapped up as packages and tied up with the prettiest of strings. Elbaz's number one agenda though is still about pleasing women first and foremost. Of the deconstructed bows he said: "Bows are always so pretty – I love prettiness but I don't like it when it's too sweet because women today aren't like that. What can I do to make it relevant?" It's likely that Elbaz will go on answering that last question at Lanvin and this collection was certainly no exception.

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