The women’s wear of Lanvin may be a series of missteps after Alber Elbaz departed, but for its men’s collection, still-going-strong Lucas Ossendrijver delivered one of his best seasons yet
Lanvin isn’t what it used to be. With the brand’s corporate troubles, it has not only lost its prestige, but also its standing in French fashion’s current pantheon of greats. Men in the know, however, consider this the distress of the women’s wear division, not the Lanvin they have been buying. And those particularly unswayed by the social-media savvy of trending star designers continue to support Lucas Ossendrijver’s vision of the unconventional yet solidly contemporary.
Mr Ossendrijver remains true to what he and Alber Elbaz co-created following the former’s appointment at the house in 2006: never too classic, nor too casual, just the right dash of the nonchalant. In fact, it can be said that Lanvin was one of the first brands—if not the first—to propose the boundary-blurring idea of teaming athletic wear with tailoring, way before sweatpants are so scarily common. The whole relaxed approach to men’s wear truly found its proponent in Lanvin, culminating in the hugely successful collaboration with H&M in 2011.
No matter how informal the styles he’s been showing, Mr Ossendrijver, who cut his teeth at Kenzo, then Kostas Murkudis, and then Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme, has always made construction and proportion the crux of the Lanvin identity. His latest collection continued to underscore these crucial components while enhancing its visual complexity. The observant may think that much of these have in common with Japanese labels such as Undercover, but Mr Ossendrijver has definitely put his own stamp on them.
On the surface many pieces may look like hybrid garments, but it is essentially the styling that gives the impression of hybridisation. Outdoor wear, often worn askew (also seen last season), was teamed with conventional shirting, for example, but brought together in such a way as not to give the impression of composites of disparates. These are no doubt the work of a sophisticated mind and discerning hands. It is true when Mr Ossendrijver told the media that guys are attracted to Lanvin because of its “elaborate workmanship”.
They, too, would be attracted to an abbreviated polo-shirt-as-cape worn like a gilet or the cropped cousin slipped atop shirt sleeves, or boxy jumpers pulled over T-shirts the way much of the young do these days. Although there was much more layering than what is typical of the spring/summer season, Mr Ossendrijver was careful to keep the silhouette fairly lean, not ultra-skinny, adequately roomy, not unusually voluminous. In this regard, he did not appear to deliberately stay clear of extremes—the either-or approach of many showing in Paris.
At times, there seemed to be the sensibility of football blokes in the way the pieces were pulled together, as if in haste, or missing a mirror. These were all the more charming considering how the most popular shows of the season were careful compositions of precise tailoring and totally low-key—as counterpoint—in controlled harmony. You see, for some of us, the truly wicked is in the devil-may-care.