Respect Your Alber: Lanvin for H&M Runway Launch

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Published November 21, 2010

At Thursday night’s exclusive runway launch of Lanvin’s H&M collection at Manhattan’s swanky Pierre Hotel, model Elisa Sednaoui—cousin of famed cinematographer Stéphane Sednaoui—cheerfully admitted she wasn’t herself. “I usually never wear color,” she stated, referring to her brilliantly red, big-skirted tutu dress—one of the collaboration’s show-stopping ensembles and an outfit she donned especially for the occasion. “But for Alber, I will do it!” Indeed, there’s something about Alber Elbaz, the artistic director and spiritual heart and soul of Lanvin, that makes women want to push themselves to be a little more fabulous. It’s that inimitable quality that’s leading enthusiasts to deem Lanvin’s collaboration with H&M arguably the most anticipated in the history of high/low partnerships. On the red carpet last night, H&M design director Margareta van den Bosch admitted “it will be hard to top” this unifying milestone (though she mischievously hinted has ideas up her sleeve—none of which she’s sharing). Is there another designer today that more cogently expresses how the modern woman wants clothing to make her feel? Given the impressive diversity of the evening’s crowd—everyone from Alexander Wang to Grace Coddington to Sofia Coppola made a cameo—it appears that when it comes to seducing women’s fantastical side, Elbaz remains the man to beat. LEFT: ALEXANDER WANG AND ELISA SEDNAOUI. PHOTO BY JOE SCHILDHORN/BFANYC.COM“I just love what he does,” said fellow designer Anna Sui. “Elbaz always creates one of the collections that I really look forward to—and the collections I wear the most.” Fittingly, she donned a mainline Lanvin gown in a deep-sea blue for the occasion. What does the Lanvin aesthetic represent to her? “Lanvin represents the first time I wanted to look grown up.” But, Sui notes, that adulthood elegance should come with a twist. “With the quirkiness and sense of humor he injects into his clothes, Elbaz makes it fun to want to look grown-up.” The runway show itself—held inside one of The Pierre’s opulent parlors—felt triumphant indeed, allowing Elbaz to indulge his inner cheeky showman. And how could he not, with an army of extroverted, one-shouldered cocktail dresses such as these? Models, both seasoned (Karen Elson, Alana Zimmer) and aspiring (Pixie Geldof, Julia Frakes), gallantly stomped down the runway in wildly crimped hairstyles to match the loudly patterned partywear that formed the crux of the colorful collection. The accompanying accessories—exuberant clutches, plastic gem-and-pearl necklaces, and fearsomely cool shades—further accentuated Lanvin’s madcap spirit.

“For me to care, it has to grab my attention,” Sofia Coppola, professedly not the closest observer of fashion, said of what lured her into evening’s festivities. She herself advocates the idea of character-driven dressing, and sees plenty of cinematic potential in the Lanvin woman. “Parties, fun, bubbliness—Paris,” she quipped. “What else do you need?” The answer: only to own it before everyone else, a feat that took on chillingly comical importance to last night’s attendees. Seconds after the runway fare ended, the audience bolted fiendishly to the evening’s accompanying “preview pop-up event”—a shopping scene that, as brave witnesses can attest, quickly escalated into a spirited, Darwinist frenzy.