Lanvin Resort 2016: Inside Alber Elbaz's (Sur)real World
Reality and the digital space collide for the fashion house's bright pre-spring collection.
Come for the fashion presentation, stay for the multi-camera sitcom: That was the thought springing to mind while checking out the backdrop for Lanvin’s pre-spring 2016 presentation Monday afternoon at New York’s Milk Studios. Models lingered around a fanciful apartment set that evoked memories of Friends, if only Monica and Rachel’s bank accounts had been much larger.
Alber Elbaz’s thought process was decidedly more forward-thinking, of course. Monica and Rachel didn’t Instagram every moment of their lives, though that’s only because the social platform hadn’t launched until Friends had been off the air for six years. What Elbaz realizes, and what he wanted to explore for pre-spring (the house’s designation for the resort season), is that in this digital-centric age, everything about your life must be highly photogenic — because in essence, everyone is producing his or her own reality show.
“I realized the moment we’re living in is one in which we must document everything we do,” Elbaz told Pret-a-Reporter. “People are not talking, they’re posting; they’re not listening, they’re taping; and they’re not looking, they’re filming. So I thought, in that case, let’s create a world that’s good for digital. The dresses match the pillows, and the pillows match the shoes.”
This bright, poppy universe indeed was populated with bold graphics, like the jersey dress in a blue and black abstract leopard print, or the colorblocking of a red peacoat over a kelly-green silk blouse and magenta suede miniskirt. Stripes and Mondrian-like prints were used for dresses of every length, from sleeveless A-line shifts that reached (barely) to mid-thigh to more languid maxi dresses dripping in sequins. Because this is Lanvin, there was also the perfect black lace one-shoulder dress for evening, or the black silk-faille cocktail dress, its wide straps tying in a perfect bow in back. Fold in the accessories — including the bounty of shoes and bags adorning the "closet" everyone attending will surely continue to see in their dreams — and the result is a collection that combines effortless mixes with great pieces you’ll long to pull out and pair with other favorites.
Elbaz also employed oversized paper sculptures by Parisian artist Cyril Hatt, who has worked with the house on past window displays and other projects. A car crafted of paper and staples, resembling the size and look of a slightly demolished Mini Cooper, occupied the front of the set, while a life-size paper giraffe peeked in from one side. Such effects were needed, Elbaz noted, to keep us mindful of how the world is changing. "With everything in digital, it’s nice that some people are still using paper," he said. "I wanted a mix between the real and the surreal, the truth and the fake. The car looked like it crashed, but this is an illusion. It’s paper. The whole idea was to work for a couple of months in the studio and to make clothes that wouldn’t crash — clothes that wouldn’t fake it or work on effects."
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Some effects, however, were highly intentional. “I like stripes that are vertical to make you look skinny — it’s important to look skinny in the photos.”