Lanvin, and the Loss of a Legend

In Alber Elbaz’s speech at the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars, he pondered how  he would often ask himself: “What do women want? What do women need? What can I do for a woman to make her life better and easier?” He was one of few designers who consistently sought to channel comfortable glamour and easy elegance, becoming well-known for his ballet slippers because he knew a woman in flats could be as graceful and sensual as one in stilettoes.

The uniquely talented Alber Elbaz was ousted from his post at Lanvin, after single-handedly reviving the brand over the course of his 14 year tenure. I’ve always admired the Lanvin silhouette. The elegant, yet unfussy draping and the elements of whimsy present in each collection. The Fall 2011 line still stands out in my mind and the and accompanying campaign video ushered in a new trend of fashion films in which luxury and silliness were no longer mutually exclusive. As Robin Givhan put it perfectly

There was a kindness and romanticism to his work. But it was strong, too. Elbaz understood that all three could coexist in a single design because they could coexist in a woman’s personality. He regularly lamented his weight. Perhaps that’s why he shied away from trussing women up without leaving even a millimeter of room in which to breathe. Elbaz has always been on their side: admiring, commiserating, cheering. Fashion needs Elbaz’s aesthetic — but more important, women deserve it.

Elbaz was so adored by his team that they are reportedly protesting his departure, planning to seek recourse with the French commercial courts, and there is much speculation about what this means considering several other high-profile departures this month. My fingers are crossed that Lanvin will land at Dior or start a line of his own. His aesthetic is one that deserves to remain in the spotlight.