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Lanvin’s New Codes

Bruno Sialelli's light and airy debut had potential, but was too heavily marked with the stamp of his former employer.
By
  • Angelo Flaccavento

PARIS, France — A designer debut requires a critic to keep an open mind... and yet.

Bruno Sialelli's debut at the creative helm of Lanvin — which has been in a state of identity crisis and financial turmoil since the ouster of Alber Elbaz — was floaty, light and ultimately uplifting. But it was heavily marked with the stamp of Sialelli's former employer Loewe.

Everything screamed Loewe: the early morning show, the gallery setting in the enchanting interiors of the Musée de Clouny, the crafty feel of the materials and, then, of course, the clothes, with abstract shapes barely touching the body, surreal accessories and humongous bags, artisanal shoes and a pervasive neo-hippie wandering spirit.

When a curvaceous patchwork leather jacket kicked in, followed by a series of patchwork silk dresses, the goings took a turn towards Chloé, only to revert back to more Loewe-isms. This was evident in the seriously tempting menswear, which was natural, given the fact that Sialelli previously held the position of men's design director at Loewe.

That said, the effort to define new, lighter and more welcoming codes at Lanvin was commendable, as was the intention to depict a new Lanvin woman. Backstage Sialelli said he was inspired by medieval-inflected pieces he found in the archive, and by Jeanne Lanvin's own proclivity for travel.

All things considered, this was a good start full of potential that nonetheless posed a couple of questions. One is about the identity of Lanvin, which is going in a new direction but needs some dramatic tuning to find originality. The other is about the identity of the new Parisian vanguard as a whole.

Designers like Sialelli, Natacha Ramsay-Levi and Julien Dossena — the only wunderkind who truly went his own way — all belong to the same milieu, linked to Nicolas Ghesquière, and somehow end up working with the same stylists and other creative collaborators. There is more than a small risk of homogeneity. Being daring, or simply opening up the windows — metaphorically speaking — to bring in some fresh air would help.

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