Paris Fashion Week: At Lanvin, the Everywoman


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What Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz accomplished with his spring collection presented in Paris on Friday was no small feat. He pared fashion down to its essence and showed us the emotions behind getting dressed.

When the first model came out, she could have been a superhero with her pale gray skirt billowing in the breeze behind her. Then slowly, as we watched look after look, her feet landed on the ground and her clothes took shape.


A two-toned blue dress seemed to embody Elbaz’s creative process together with a woman’s hopes and fears. The dress was sleeveless on one side, with a single jacket sleeve on the other. It was form-fitting on one side, with a floating panel of silk, zipped from top to bottom, on the other. The effect was seamless and stunning.

The shapes became even more spare after that--a gray jacket totally unembellished except for a zippered pocket on either side, worn over a short skirt and pants; a striking blue shift with 3/4 length sleeves and a plunging neckline; a mannish black coat dress; and an athletic-looking black racer-back dress with a zipper sloping down the side.

Then came color, lots of it, on plisse pieces in pumped up shapes. One acid yellow top resembled a molded breastplate, another -- in shocking pink -- had arms to rival the Michelin Man.There was an aerodynamism to a one-shoulder, red plisse cocktail dress. And a deflated look to a loose black silk shirtdress and raincoat. Papery pleated dresses suggested vulnerability, and a studded gladiator skirt invincibility.

But when five black models in leafy print silk dresses walked the runway together as a group to close the show, it was difficult to know what to think. Elbaz had shown that clothing can empower, protect and hide. Perhaps he was also suggesting it can unite.

-- Booth Moore in Paris