Repackaging French elegance for rising generations, Bruno Sialelli fine-tuned classics, blowing up Erté prints and laying on the accessories.
Many designers working under lockdown embraced escapism, including Lanvin’s Bruno Sialelli, whose fashion therapy was an elevated, coed lineup infused with glamour. Repackaging French elegance for new generations, he fine-tuned classics: double-breasted suits in soft pastels, silky scarves and blouses with blown-up Erté prints, billowing polka-dot dresses and cape-like outerwear.
He finished off looks with turbans, gloves, sunglasses and prominent gold jewelry sets with abstract flower petals. Oh, and handbags. Pulled from the archives, the rigid pencil bag is practically a piece of art — with an arched feline as a handle — designed by Armand-Albert Rateau for Jeanne Lanvin. He also revived the pillowy Sugar bag from the early Aughts.
Men’s looks were equally elevated, and also distinctly revisited. A navy blue suit jacket became a V-neck shirt, styled with a scarf. A brown, suede jacket became two-toned, with a flash of yellow on the cuffs and collar, while a light silky shirt sprouted a hood and drawstring waist.
A rural postman named Ferdinand Cheval spent 33 years building the incredible backdrop of this season’s Lanvin lookbook and film. Zooming, designer Bruno Sialelli said he’d been drawn to Le Palais Idéal, near Lyon, partly because he’d never been before and wanted to see it, and partly because Cheval, who made it, “was a man who had no notion of architecture, who built this amazing palace by hand, mixing in very strange references, and it’s very interesting as a creative designer to observe this. Because sometimes, the way I work, I mix references not in an intellectual way but in a way that’s more about associating things that give you what you want to say.”
Here what Sialelli wanted to communicate was partly an evocation of the decade in which the house of Lanvin really got going, the 1920s. He collaborated with the estate of Art Deco illustrator Erté to include some of his poised illustrations on silk prints, bags, turban hats, men’s shirting, and a leather-edged cape.
The release noted that buttons were rounded to resemble a Lanvin perfume bottle designed in 1927. Around this Sialelli montaged a broader context of references, many cinematic, to effectively evoke a glamorous ensemble for what he called “a lifestyle that almost doesn’t exist any more.” By this he meant that of a carefree cashed-up caste of taste with the means to be fabulous and the discernment not to be vulgar: “because when and how are we going to be fabulous again?”
That’s a valid question, and in the 1920s there lies a parallel to Lanvin’s blossoming—a precedent of a rapid aesthetic and hedonistic renewal in the wake of war and pestilence. Sialelli hopes when the time comes, people’s desires will set sail again in Lanvin’s direction.