The late Yves Saint Laurent famously said that he wished he had invented denim. As that has been the staple fabric of the modern wardrobe, both for men and women, from the 1970s to this day, it is easy to see why. This also goes some way towards explaining the collaboration between the Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz and the Swedish purveyor of probably the finest denim in the world just now, Acne. The results, due in store and online later this month, are as covetable as might be expected.
Elbaz did a stint as creative director at France's most famous fashion house in the late Nineties, so it comes as no surprise that in pride of place in this new collection is the denim tuxedo – or "le smoking" – borrowed from men's evening dress and reinterpreted for women by Saint Laurent in 1966. The tux has featured on any designer runway worth its credentials ever since. And it looks great in America's most ubiquitous weave: weathered jeans are teamed with a narrow single-breasted jacket trimmed with black (pocket flaps, turn-ups and so on), in case anyone misses the trick.
Next up: the trench coat. Yes, yes, we all know that this garment has its roots in British outerwear – stand up and be counted, Burberry and Aquascutum – but the French have made it their own. It crops up regularly at Jean Paul Gaultier, and Elbaz's seasonally adjusted varieties on the theme are among the most coveted in the fashion hemisphere. There's a cute, short, fitted, capped-sleeved version in the Acne/Lanvin collection, as well as a more typically voluminous, knee-length one tightly belted at the waist. Très chic.
In general, this is a clever and desirable fusion of the attention to detail of the haute-couture tradition for which Lanvin is famed, and the masculine workwear aesthetic from which the Acne Jeans aesthetic springs.
"This collection is set to appeal to girls and boys about town of all ages," reads the press release, and it's not wrong. "Made entirely of denim, only the finest Italian and Japanese fabrics have been used in a collection that sets out to be classic yet sharp. To maintain their intense shade of indigo, the fabrics have been given minimal treatment, resulting in dresses, pants, suits, coats, jewellery, shoes and bags in a multitude of blue hues."
In an economic climate such as this one, the classic-with-a-twist is more relevant, as they say in fashion circles, than ever. And these are quite the finest of that kind a boy or girl about town might wish for.
The Acne/Lanvin collection will be available at Lanvin and Acne Studio stores, and at www.acnestudios.com