Jeanne in Shanghai. Lanvin SS21

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.

Bourgeois Chic. Lanvin AW20

Bruno Sialelli grows up at Lanvin. His autumn-winter 2020 outing was his most convincing outing yet and might be the right starting point for the new Lanvin image. The designer approached the beautiful value of Jeanne Lanvin’s legacy, creating an elegant, bourgeois-chic collection. There were plenty of Sialelli’s favorite tailored outerwear pieces with oversized or fur-textured collars – that’s the part he just can’t skip in his post-Loewe work. However, these were less oversophisticated with overelaborate styling. What else pleased? Some “playful” accessories that will surely attract a young customer: a lipstick pendant, a ceramic fox face bracelet, the patisserie-box bags. The clothes are refined and definitely will be cherished by more mature ones. Big bravos for casting Paloma Elsesser – seeing an over-sized model in Paris is great, and I hope it will be the new norm since this season.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Corto Maltese. Lanvin AW20

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Bruno Sialelli seems to finally find his ground at Lanvin – even though I’m not sure if the customer is ready to come back to the brand’s stores. For the men’s autumn-winter 2020 collection, the designer took creative license from Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese series of comics. Corto Maltese began in the 1960s and it charted the progress of a tough but tender maritime adventurer who encounters some of the early 20th century’s most important figures and is a bit like one of Joseph Conrad’s questing captain protagonists. Sialelli likes seasonal graphics, and he incorporated this character on shirting and outerwear. It looks good, but I don’t see any connection to Lanvin. And we already have a bunch of designers who do eclectic, random style. While most of the garments were quite unamusing, they were helped by accessories (think beanies covered in sequins and necklaces with faux shark teeth). The one area in which this collection was somehow really attractive was the 1990s skate culture influences that included super oversized sneakers and voluminous silhouettes. Taking a look at women’s pre-fall, which was also present in the line-up, I have an impression that designers this season think that if they have Bella and Gigi Hadid as the models, the job is done.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Lanvin 130th Anniversary Capsule

Celebrating its 130th anniversary, Lanvin has created a series of limited edition pieces inspired by its archives. Bruno Sialelli, the promising creative director of the historic maison, has come up with a joyful and mischievous capsule collection to revisit the Parisian fashion house’s heritage. The eveningwear features modern reinterpretations of exceptional pieces from Jeanne Lanvin’s atelier, the footwear is inspired by the iconic and timeless Arpège fragrance bottle of the house, while the apparel is printed with the founder’s drawings. Wearing a blue dress with golden wings, the “Lanvin angel” represented the house during the World’s Fair in New York in 1939, when Jeanne Lanvin presided over. As for the “Mermaid”, the founder presented the multicolored cloak at the international Golden Gate exhibition held in San Francisco in 1939. This is exactly something that the brand missed for a while: celebration of its past.