Is Lanvin‘s choice of showing it’s spring-summer 2021 collection in Shanghai a surprise? Not really. It’s financially and commercially a wise thing to do. Lanvin is owned by Fosun International, the Chinese conglomerate with such eclectic subsidiaries as the Wolverhampton Wanderers and Cirque du Soleil. Also, as far as fashion is concerned, there’s beautiful irony to the fact that China was the first country to return to a sense of normalcy after the coronavirus outbreak. Pre-pandemic, China was the new shopping center of the world. Post-pandemic, staging your fashion show there is pretty much a win-win scenario. “We can do a proper event there with hundreds of people,” Bruno Sialelli, Lanvin’s creative director, said during a preview in Paris, two weeks before he shipped his pre-styled Lanvin show to Shanghai and live-streamed it from the historic Yu Garden. “And to be very pragmatic, this is the market that is going to drive growth in luxury in general. It’s good for us to federate our community there.” What about the collection? The designer seems to be leaving behind his Loewe style and induldges in Jeanne Lanvin’s rich, Art Deco heritage. The opening looks were sublime: from those golden trinkets to the reimagined Jean Dunand motifs that graced garments and accessories, and the Armand-Albert Rateau pieces and Georges Lepape illustrations that inspired them. The show started with Sialelli’s interpretations of Lanvin’s robe de style, the dainty drop-waist silhouette she loosely revived from the 19th century. The first – black with a crystal bow across the hip – was virtually a replica of its 1920s embodiment. Somehow, it looks relevant in 2020. “Lanvin was at its strongest in between the World Wars. It became a huge company with hundreds of employees, ateliers, cosmetics, and everything. It’s interesting to observe the pendants between the 1920s and the 2020s,” Sialelli reflected. “Art Deco’s three words were order, geometry, and color. I think it expresses something that’s interesting to re-contextualize today.” Discussing his silhouettes, he mentioned “a certain rigidity,” explaining, “from the beginning, I’ve thought about characters like Maggie Cheung or Anna May Wong, who have this put-together attitude; very neat. I want to translate that character.” The collection has its ups and downs (the daywear felt whatever…), but finally, the new Lanvin takes shape.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.