Back in March, just five months after fan favorite Alber Elbaz was unceremoniously let go from the head design role at Lanvin (where he'd worked for a fruitful 14 years), a new artistic director was appointed at the French house — and one that came as a surprise to even the most in-the-know industry folk. Rather than bring in one of the designers whose names seem to always pop up when a vacant slot needs to be filled — Erdem Moralioglu, Stefano Pilati, Simone Rocha, Joseph Altuzarra, etc. — the brand hired Bouchra Jarrar, who worked at both Balenciaga and Christian Lacroix before launching her eponymous label in 2010. And like the house's founder, she's an official member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (and a woman).
On Wednesday afternoon in Paris, Jarrar debuted her first collection for Lanvin — following a critically panned fall 2016 offering designed by the in-house atelier — and from the ornate setting (a gilded hall dripping with chandeliers inside the Hôtel de Ville) to the varied fabrics, silhouettes and vibes she presented for spring, it's safe to say the label's new era is off to a strong start. While we were sad to see Elbaz go, Jarrar's fresh perspective as a woman designing for women certainly didn't seem to hurt.
Though she's known primarily for her tailoring — think sharp outerwear, soft suiting pieces and simple (yet stunning) eveningwear — Jarrar showed an impressively comprehensive 49-look collection that introduced the world to her version of the "Lanvin woman." In the show notes, the designer said: "I've been exploring the paths of sensuality and intimacy, building clothes around the body, unveiling and veiling the silhouette... I love to dress women, to reveal them to themselves, to sublime them, to cross borders between femininity and masculinity. Hence a wardrobe which shall evolve and echo itself from one season to another."
This "veiling and unveiling" concept was particularly evident, as some looks — like layered, relaxed suiting pieces adorned with neck ties and floral brooches — completely covered the models up from head to toe. Others, like black chiffon dresses and skirts, were totally sheer, leaving very little to the imagination. In between, Jarrar presented pieces that could appeal to any number of women's tastes: Sharp tweed jackets in black and ivory made a statement thanks to feathered collars; lacquered velvet and sequin embroideries added both texture and shine to otherwise simple shapes; silk trousers and blouses were done up in pajama-like stripes; and classic white shirts and trenches got a modern update thanks to sheer organza detailing.
While Jarrar included a number of her signatures, like sharp tuxedo and biker jackets and low-slung trousers, she didn't stray too far from the legacy that Albaz left behind. The belted waists, neck bows, bright colors, draped dresses, high-necked blouses and general ornamentation brought the fun and glamour that Lanvin became known for during his era at the helm. And the casting, which consisted of both notable up-and-coming and OG models in various stages of life (Sasha Pivovarova, Arizona Muse, Guinevere Van Seenus, and Iris Strubegger, to name a few) further reflected the designer's desire to cater to women with varied tastes. If this season is any indication, the French house will emerge as an industry favorite again in no time.