After several years in the creative wilderness, Lanvin is back on form.
There was a palpable sense of relief — as well as praise — as noisy applause erupted at the end of the French couture house’s catwalk show Wednesday, a debut from Bruno Sialelli, Lanvin’s fourth designer in four years.
Lanvin, a French national treasure, has struggled since the departure of lauded couturier Alber Elbaz in 2015 after 14 years at the helm.
That ended resoundingly Wednesday, with Sialelli taking the brand in a strong new direction with a playful, arty and accomplished collection of men’s and women’s designs called "Mystic Pilgrims".
The collection was shown amid statues of French kings inside the haunting stone interiors of Paris’ National Museum of the Middle Ages.
Layering was used whimsically. Fluid medieval fairytale princess silhouettes featured amid uber-small waists, deconstructed ponchos in Saville Row-style check, and tartan print used as a contrasting bodice on ethnic silk dresses.
Colors were used with mastery — in a melting pot of Renaissance hues that spanned from the house’s signature blue into what the brand called "powdery shades of avocado, absinthe, banana and bergamot warmed by mahogany, navy, tomato and a blaze of ultraviolet."
Some had raised doubts about Sialelli when he was poached in January from Loewe, given that he was relatively unknown and only 31 years old. Others had taken to social media in recent seasons with the tag #JeSuisLanvin in sadness and solidarity at the great house’s perceived demise.
This collection proved them wrong.