Keeping a legacy fashion house alive certainly has ups and downs and isn’t for the faint of heart. Lanvin is no exception which has seen a bump or two in the road since its uber-successful revival under the late Alber Elbaz. Today Lanvin, founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin, making it the oldest fashion house, is on an upward trajectory thanks partly to the parent company’s Lanvin Group’s recent IPO. The reinforced structure and leadership seem to have contributed to designer Bruno Sialelli’s strong outing for Fall 2023, which showed plenty of real clothes that boast genuine intrigue with a fresh point of view on the brand’s codes.
Post-show, Sialelli spoke to reporters about his latest collection since taking over the reins at 31 in, 2018. “There is something we forget because we see a lot of collections as fashion people, but Lanvin is a ready-to-wear house. Even for me, it took time to understand the function of Lanvin in the retail landscape,” he said, adding, “As a ready-to-wear house, you need wearability that feels attractive and that you can relate to, so I think that is why I call this collection a style exercise because I am giving context to wearable pieces that encapsulate the idea and the emotion of the house.”
In this sense, Sialelli was referring to the smart, slightly oversized tailored pieces for men and women which were given a new view; a green croc-embossed car coat, a swingy trapeze shape peacoat, a salmon bouclé slouchy overcoat or men’s shearling jacket with an intarsia Calla Lily which appeared on several pieces throughout. (Sialelli explained that flowers were a big part of Jeanne Lanvin’s archival scrapbooks saying she was obsessed with their symbolism. It also ran down the front of a black silk sheath dress as a picture print, his idea of modernizing the concept. Suiting also came with its style quirks; a double hemmed effect on a skirt suit, slightly flared dress trousers paired with elongated jackets, and surprising color combos. The designer also made a case for unisex unitards underneath overcoats in coordinating colors, certainly a modern idea of dressing with ease. This was contrasted with fluid beauty, pops of shine, and demonstrated embellishments.
Sialelli described it this way. “There is a traction that feels very Lanvin unexpectedly playing with color and materials, almost flirting with something that could feel deranged. Only flirting with it though because they express something beautiful and modern; it was sort of modernity through simple luxury,” he said of the design exercise. The designer’s choice to show in a gothic medieval architecture space added to the grandeur of the clothes but also gave context to several armour-like details.
To that end, interspersed were dresses with singular chunky floral beading in an evenly patterned application on a dress; a slinky red paillette dress or swooshy white deep v-front dress that appeared to be made entirely out of plastic beads. Slinky satin numbers, often with unfinished hems that ruched in all the right places, looked great, especially paired with heavily embellished shoes. Several sequined and beaded gowns in the finale also looked Red Carpet worthy.
“There is a raw preciousness that feels Lanvin to me. Like the edges, they were precious but treated with a twist of rawness. It was a game, this idea to manipulate the silhouette and the pieces in a way that feels modern, urban, and put together. I wanted to consider every aspect of the physicality of every character and play with subtle elements that look eccentric,” he added.
Maybe it was a bit quirky here and there but more so full of chic. It felt like the house was regaining some of the sophisticated footing it was known for and much less like a video set to Gwen Stefani’s and Eve’s 2004 hit “Rich Girl” during the pandemic show hiatus, which challenged the idea of the brand’s foundation.