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Paris Fashion Week: Lanvin takes it from solid as steel to soft as silk

June 28, 2011 |  3:36 pm

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The Lanvin spring and summer 2012 collection was shown under the impressive, soaring iron and glass dome of the Bourse de Commerce and accompanied by music from the soaring score to "The Dark Knight."

The range of the collection from creative director Alber Elbaz and menswear designer Lucas Ossendrijver was equally as awe-inspiring.

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The show opened with strong-shouldered military-inspired pieces, high-end riffs on the kind of clothes the night watchmen or SWAT officer might feel comfortable in -- on or off the job, including solid-looking pieces of bonded leather, utilitarian webbed belts and trousers bloused into boots.

It ended with soft, almost drooping shoulders, blousy patterned pants and shirts that wouldn't look out of place at a music festival, and more swaths of fabric wrapped diagonally at the waist. 

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In between there were clingy knit pullover shirts with artistically folded necklines (maybe it was the music. but they seemed for all the world like they could fold out to accomodate a Batman-like cowled headpiece), technical outerwear pieces that included hooded jackets and a car coat with an extra piece that buttoned tight against the neck when the collar was in the folded-up position.

Overall there was an emphasis on the diagonal -- zippers on the bias, bags with straps from shoelace thin to guitar-strap thick were slung across the chest, the angle of the shoulder and even the cut of the several double-breasted jackets in the collection (one of my favorite formal looks was a purple, double-breasted suit with generously cut trousers).

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But there was a unifying element. From the martial to the mellow, everything that came down the catwalk seemed to have a certain strength and structure about it -- not unlike armor, a uniform or even a superhero costume.

So it wasn't surprising when I discovered that the building the show was held in, with its 19th century frescoes and glassed-in iron dome, was considered an architectural achievement for its use of iron and which the European Council of Civil Engineers describes as "one of the first buildings for which the architect and the engineer joined their respective skills." 

Likewise, Lanvin, has wrapped artistic beauty around an iron-strong framework for a collection that is built to last.

-- Adam Tschorn, reporting from Paris

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Top photo: Looks from the Lanvin spring/summer 2012 runway collection shown during Paris Fashion Week. Credit: Jacques Brinon / Associated Press.

Middle photos, from left: Credit: Francois Guillot/Associated Press; Jacques Brinon/Associated Press.

Lower middle photo, from left: Credit: Jacques Brinon/Associated Press. Francois Guillot/Associated Press.

Bottom photo: Francois Guillot/Associated Press.

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