The creatures who inhabit the fashion world are often prickly and polarizing but Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz, who tonight celebrated 10 years at the label with the presentation of his fall 2012 collection and a party immediately following, is pretty much beloved by all. And for good reason. The smiley, bespectacled, bow-tied designer is self-deprecating and doesn't take himself too seriously. (He once said, when asked about the pressure designers face today "I don't take drugs because if I did I'd love them - I'd be a junkie. And because I'm Jewish, I'd probably be a dealer too." There was also that time he danced to Pitbull.) He's enormously talented but stays humble. Oh and he's generous. Very generous. Most people receive presents when they celebrate a milestone anniversary. Elbaz gives them out.
Here is how the designer chose to ring in 10 years at Lanvin last night:
The invitation, doodled over with a cartoon sketch of Elbaz and a string of hearts, told guests to arrive at La Halle Freyssinet, a massive space in the 13th arrondissement, at 8:30 for the show that would be followed by "d'une fun party." Guests arrived at the space to find the venue in full birthday party mode: three-tiered cakes and hors d'oeuvres like finger sandwiches and balls of foie gras and chocolate lined the runway.
Everyone gets champagne. Dapper waiters were stationed along the runway with champagne, but if you didn't feel like waiting around and getting a flute for yourself, waiters passed out champagne to everyone--from the front row (which included celebs like Tilda Swinton, Jessica Alba, Pharell Williams and Dita Von Teese) to the folks standing in the 12th.
The show. It was an exciting, over-the-top, celebration that kicked off with a series of classic Lanvin shapes--peplum-hipped dresses and form-fitting numbers with high collars and low backs done in neoprene so they held their signature Lanvin ruffles--in bold jewel tones. From jewel-tones, actual jewels worked their way into the collection. After a series of black looks that played with structure and volume (work that short flared skirt, Karlie), gem stones, big ones, sparkly ones, were arranged boldly over the front of dresses. Then came the furs, the ruffles, the peplums, the silk prints, all of it more-is-more and more worked. The A-list model line-up played up their looks, with Aymeline Valade "werking" her ruffles and elbow length red gloves like models used to in the '70s and '80s. The last looks elicited shrieks and claps and whistles from the crowd.
After the show. A curtain parted and there was Alber, standing on a stage hung with strings of lights and chandeliers standing behind a microphone. The entire crowd rose to their feet with cheers and applause. When everyone quieted down (it took a while) Alber announced he was going to sing. He was dedicating the song, he said, to all the people in fashion who had helped him "realize his dream...I love you." "I rehearsed a few times but I'm a terrible singer," he said before launching into a very sweet rendition of "Que Sera Sera." What a healthy attitude to have in fashion.
Portland, Oregon-based band Pink Martini, with Paper's Kim Hastreiter on drums.
Click through for video (which is hilarious since all you can hear are angry pit photographers yelling "SIT DOWN" at the end) and the complete gallery of runway looks.