PARIS — Fourth time fortunate?
Lanvin, one-time fairy story of French trend, has flipped and flopped (extra usually flopped) so many occasions since Alber Elbaz, the inventive director who gave it fashionable which means, was fired in 2015, that it has misplaced virtually all identification: going romantically cool below Bouchra Jarrar; weirdly 1980s below Olivier Lapidus; after which silent whereas a brand new proprietor, administration workforce and designer — Bruno Sialelli, an unknown barely into his 30s — acquired settled.
On Wednesday, in the vaulted environs of the Musée de Cluny, a.okay.a. France’s National Museum of the Middle Ages, amid plinths with ghostly carved pillars representing civilization way back, the oldest French trend home in steady existence tried as soon as once more for, if not a cheerful ending, a minimum of a brand new chapter that somebody would possibly need to learn.
Welcome to Lanvin, the millennial model. There had been so many plotlines happening, it was slightly arduous to observe.
There had been, for instance, lengthy skinny knit clothes with deep V necklines, and lemon yellow trouser fits with knit corset waists and knit dickeys that flowed like a stream down the again. There had been medieval texts on scarf skirts, and plenty of tartan (already beginning to be a development this season; blame Brexit), and some crafty crochet — for both sexes. There were pastel-toned sailor suits with leather neckties for men, and silk pajama pants worn under cropped denim pants so they fell limply over the ankle for women. (Flou and tailoring in one!)
There were face prints on silk caftans trimmed in cellophane gold fringe (some of which fell off onto the runway, like glinting crumbs) and little embroidered foxes (foxes?) on sheer T-shirts and scrims atop lace-trimmed slipdresses. There were giant shoulder bags and cowboy boot/leg-warmer hybrids.
There was so much that it was easier to say what it wasn’t than what it was: not as empty or cynical as the last reboot, but also not marked by the empathetic elegance that once defined the house. There were lots of influences from other brands you might or might not recognize — though not so many that seemed connected to Lanvin’s own history, which is too bad.
It’s not that Mr. Sialelli has to tiptoe around what came before, or put it up on a pedestal. But he does have to know what he, and this brand, stand for. And it needs to be more than a new start. Maybe next time.
One of the stones in the museum that guests filed past on the way to their seats was the dedication stone from the Pillar of the Boatmen, the oldest known monument of Paris, dating from the first century A.D. On it was an explanatory plaque reading: “Three armed male figures, of which one (at left) is gone.”
Perhaps his name was Clarity.