PARIS--To see a Lanvin runway show in person is to fully appreciate Alber Elbaz's devotion to the school of his mentor, Geoffrey Beene. This season, Elbaz's dresses were mostly jersey and crepe, and the models glided down the runway with a swagger that's not normally encouraged on modern catwalks. Much like Beene's work, which was clean cut and functional, Elbaz's designs consider the woman first. There were flat sandals and spiky heels, formfitting liquid gowns and flowing crepe skirts.
Color, of course, played a major role, first in several shades of stone and putty, then jewel tones of orange and ruby, then finally, neon. The embellished tunics, which showed up near the end, will do well for editorial but not in stores. Conversely, the sparkly silver and black dresses were perfect party dresses--LA stylists certainly took note of them for awards season.
The finale--four beautiful black girls in draped dresses--ignited cheers from the crowd. While Elbaz was obviously making a statement with the gesture, we thought it was a celebration of beauty more than anything political. As was the entire collection.