Lanvin Fall 2011 Review

Lanvin Fall 2011 runway

Photos: Imaxtree

Looks from the Lanvin Fall 2011 collection

SHOW: Lanvin (See the full runway collection.)

ACCESSORIES: Flat brogues or platform sandals, wide-brimmed black felt hats

OVERALL TAKEAWAY: Faultless Frenchy chic

Lanvin is all about the little quirks you never quite understand. Why, for example, did Alber Elbaz dump a giant weeping willow (painstakingly crafted by British set designer Shona Heath) on the middle of his Fall 2011 runway? Why blast out cheesy ’70s pop by Queen? Why put his opening models in flat shoes and wide-brimmed hats?

The last one is actually quite easy to answer: Because the last thing Alber Elbaz likes to do is anything that may be considered traditionally chic. He always has a twisted eye for luxury: beating up his fabrics, creating something exquisite out of the unexpected. This season, he bound thick felted wool with strips of brass for an unconventional take on haute couture detailing. It reminded one of book bindings, of the fastenings on French Pompier jackets, and a little bit of the ’60s futurism of Paco Rabanne.

His double-organza cocktail dresses and blouses, however, were far more in the Lanvin mold of lightness. But that was Elbaz's overall theme for this show—heavy and light, moving from the thick, hardy, hard-wearing wool of his dark daywear into a color-saturated silken night. That sounds like a terribly simple idea, and one acted out by most when when they shrug off a coat and throw on a party dress. But that Elbaz could base a whole collection on it and have us panting for more is a mark of his huge talent.