PFW: Tabula rasa at Lanvin

A new dawn at Lanvin aims to reboot the ailing French fashion house after its third attempt since the departure of Alber Elbaz in 2015. Under new ownership of Chinese conglomerate Fusion International, whose other portfolio brands include St John, Caruso, and Club Med, Lanvin hired Bruno Sialelli to breathe life into its struggling ready to wear business.

Sialelli's appointment was announced only in January, leaving the former director of Loewe menswear with little time to put together a runway collection. The 31 year-old designer hails from France and while he may be little known, Fusion is hoping fresh eyes and a millennial mindset will be advantageous for the brand.

PFW: Tabula rasa at Lanvin

The end of the colour purple, a palette cleansed

Sialelli's debut collection confidently re-wrote the codes of the house from its first look, erasing the days of mostly eveningwear, and the tapestry of rich velvets and silks and intense purple hues that have come to be associated with Elbaz's Lanvin. But re-writing the codes does not necessarily equate to successful programming, so says tech jargon. It takes more than coding to deliver the ultimate in UX.

What we saw was mostly daywear, from a knitted twinset that opened the show, to a mixed check poncho and sailor collar tunic jackets with leather ties for both sexes. The beiges, checks, quilting and sculpted edges on jackets could have been borrowed from Sialelli's former employer, though their execution can't be faulted.

There was a lot to take in at Sialelli's first outing, but what is clear is the brand is keen to embrace commercial success. A low court trainer came fringed, tennis style or booted for men, an introduction of a new category sneaker business surely. For women, accessories felt bohemian, like floppy juxtaposed fabric bags trimmed with leather, slouchy boots and rain hats, worn with sultry silken pyjamas. Embroideries of fox versus the hare, as seen on dresses and sheer tops, were perhaps foreboding of what is to come.

In this latest instalment of a creative director, Lanvin would do well to nature its team, but there is no way of knowing its future narrative. At the end of 2018 Lucas Ossendrijver, the Dutch designer who helmed Lanvin's menswear for 14 years was as unceremoniously dismissed as Elbaz. Lessons in respectable human resources appeared to not have been learned.

PFW: Tabula rasa at Lanvin

Lanvin is France's oldest couture house, founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin. In 2001, then Taiwanese owner Shaw-Lan Wang purchased the brand from L’Oréal, appointing Moroccan-Israeli designer Alber Elbaz as its creative head. For the decade following Lanvin became profitable, relevant and a red carpet favourite, adored by celebrities and stylists alike.

Lanvin hasn't had a red carpet moment in a long time. Let's see if Sialelli's propositions will echo its glory days.

Homepage image: Lanvin AW19, courtesy Lanvin. Photo 2 + 3: Lanvin AW19, Catwalkpictures