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Call it muddle in the middle. As Lanvin comes down from its Alber Elbaz era and the world waits for a new designer, the brand presented a collection Thursday night in Paris that was perhaps trying to please everyone — and the result is best described as all over the place.
Initially, critics and fans alike couldn’t be sure what to expect, especially given the post-Elbaz aftermath — which saw Lanvin’s employees rebelling against its management in response to the designer’s abrupt dismissal — and a lackluster reaction to the brand’s pre-fall collection. But no one could have predicted Thursday’s strange show.
Former assistant Chemena Kamali sent out ‘80s oversized shoulders that, although were perfectly in line with the current trend of volume, when applied to bustiers and tops, left them looking ill-fitting. Lace in soft pastels seemed stiff and shiny, while textures seemed incohesive and strewn together.
A soft lavender gown would be the strongest red-carpet look, and Lucio Finale accessories were a unifying point, with bold, blingy chokers that Kelly Rowland cited as a favorite after the show.
But the general reaction from the crowd could be described as uncomfortable. Guests were bemused and then quickly visibly bored, and a change from Shocking Blue’s “Love Buzz” into Kim Carnes “Bette Davis Eyes” confused the audience as no more models came down the runway; it was then changed abruptly back for last looks.
Whether the music was meant to be a hint regarding the collection’s inspiration remains a mystery — no show notes were available and would not be provided on request, Pret-a-Reporter was told. If there was a feeling of confusion, at least there was champagne for front-row guests including Emmy Rossum and Ciara.
Both Kamali and Finale, who formerly worked with Elbaz, seemed embarrassed to take credit for the collection, barely popping their heads out after the finale.
In her review for WWD, Bridget Foley writes, “In the end, it all read as an assortment of clothes, some appealing, some awkward, many serviceable, but not as a coherent, decisive statement such as used to be the point of a runway show.”
The New York Times‘ Vanessa Friedman, The Washington Post‘s Robin Givhan, New York Mag‘s Cathy Horyn and more were not as kind as they immediately took to Twitter after the show to rip the collection apart at the seams.
— Robin Givhan (@RobinGivhan) March 3, 2016
— Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) March 3, 2016
Don’t look back, Alber.
— Cathy Horyn (@CathyHoryn) March 3, 2016
— Christina Binkley (@BinkleyOnStyle) March 3, 2016
More from Lanvin finale. The crowd seems supportive but kind of uncertain about how much to clap pic.twitter.com/iupSskaoFU
— stuart emmrich (@StuartEmmrichNY) March 3, 2016
There’s something to be said of Elbaz’s Lanvin legacy; months after his departure, he’s still the one name on everyone’s tongue (and Twitter feed).
We can only imagine the implications that these scathing reviews will have in the retail space. Whereas Lanvin once occupied the biggest part of the second floor at Barneys, it’s now a corner — and Givenchy, Stella and Marni have more real estate.
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