Ready To Wear: A decade of elegance for gifted Elbaz at Lanvin

 

How good it was to see Alber Elbaz celebrating his 10th anniversary at the helm of Lanvin.

If ever proof were needed that, long term, the loudest noise is made by the most talented designers, and that their skill is more important than any slick marketing and/or money-spinning licensing and accessories, it lies here.

When Elbaz arrived at the house in 2002 he made no secret of the fact that his brief tenure at Yves Saint Laurent was traumatic – he was chosen by the man himself as his successor and then ousted by Tom Ford, who wanted to design the label himself. This unassuming man, who had been working with the equally reserved (and remarkable) American, Geoffrey Beene, prior to that for seven years, duly disappeared for a year. And then Lanvin found him.

His first collection of beautifully proportioned lightweight tweeds won him at least some followers. Later, trapping jewellery into the tulle necklines of dresses attracted many more. It wasn't long before he was the toast of the fashion circuit. Elbaz has taken the classic staples of the Gallic wardrobe and updated and reinvented them season after season, always with a sensitive touch, and women the world over love him for that.

Is it any wonder then that he threw a party and, for the show that came before it, allowed his imagination to run riot. Frill-free techno-foam dresses in deep green and damson were followed by looks in more traditional fabrics and predominantly black that showcased his extraordinary command of volume and cut. Finally, out came a sequence where gleaming jewelled pendants vied for attention with tufted striped furs, acid bright silks and a joyous display of colour and texture reminiscent of Christian Lacroix and indeed perhaps Saint Laurent himself. And then the backdrop of the catwalk rose to reveal a crystal chandelier, large even by couture salon standards, hung with more garlands of twinkling lights and M Elbaz, microphone in hand, sang.

By his own admission, he hasn't the greatest voice in the firmament but that didn't stop the audience rising to its feet to applaud him. They did so because he is supremely gifted and that, in a world that all too often relies on big budget and bombast, was uplifting to see.

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