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Paris Fashion Week: Lanvin's tribal edge

March 6, 2010 | 12:11 pm

Lanvin fall 2010

Lanvin's Alber Elbaz is the auteur of the specific brand of imperfect glamour that has dominated clothing design over the last few years.

Because of him, asymmetrical ruffles, organza and grosgrain ribbon trim and unfinished seams have taken over T-shirts, jackets and dresses at every chain store on the planet, including J. Crew and Ann Taylor. Not to mention what he has done for the costume jewelry industry with his ribbon-strung pearls.

So he was right to sense that it is time to move on to something stronger, more aggressive and less ornamental.

Elbaz's fall collection for Lanvin was inspired by Africa in winter, not that he's been there, he said after the show. It was a trip taken from his couch, where he began thinking about primitive shapes and patterns, circles and squares.

That vision resulted in a look focused on sharp cuts rather than soft drape. Although it was architectural, it was still feminine. For example, shoulders were a focal point, and yet the models did not look like linebackers.

For daytime, a striking pumice-colored jacket had an interesting Cubist-looking volume, and an oversize, cocoa-colored coat struck a balance between power and elegance with dropped shoulders, a cinched waist and a skirted bottom.

A fierce-looking black shift had a shoulder line with a sharp, papery edge, and a row of crystals down the back. The incredible fan pleating radiating toward one shoulder on a gold lame blouse was mirrored by the pleating at the hip of the black skirt worn underneath.

The drama built to a finale of short dresses with a tribal edge, embellished with patches of fur, the glint of primitive-looking jewels and feather collars. "I wanted to bring back the purity of design," Elbaz said. "But keep it emotional."

Mission accomplished.

And although Elbaz originally intended his models to come down the spiral staircase at the top of the runway, he changed his mind at the last minute and had them ascend instead of descend, wreaking havoc on the production, hair and makeup staff set up at the top of the stairs.

"I would rather see women going up than coming down," he explained.

And that is why women love you.

-- Booth Moore in Paris


More photos from Lanvin's fall 2010 runway

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Photos: Lanvin's fall 2010 runway in Paris. Credit: Peter Stigter & Jonas Gustavsson / For The Times