Eric Wilson's Front Row Diary: Everything Old Is New Again at Dior and Lanvin
Old meets new has been a recurring theme of the Paris collections. Raf Simons combined 18th century royal court fashion with modern sportswear for Christian Dior. Alber Elbaz, paying homage to the 125th anniversary of Lanvin with his spring collection, cast his show with models of all ages and included a tapestry-like print that was inspired by an original screen from the house’s headquarters. And Catherine Deneuve sat just a few seats away from Kim Kardashian.
The Dior show was, in fact, a continuation of an idea Simons introduced in his fall couture collection, now expanded in his ready-to-wear, where even the venue reflected the theme. Guests arriving for the show, held in a courtyard at the Louvre, encountered a large structure covered entirely in mirrors, reflecting the museum’s centuries-old façade back at them. Inside was a set designed like a clover-shaped spaceship, with “salons” set inside four circular pods.
For all of the strangeness of the staging and concept (promising modern takes on clothing more commonly associated with Marie-Antoinette), the designs were, in fact, both inventive and approachable (pictured, above). Masculine court coats, with nipped waists and embroidery details, were shown with schoolgirl skirts or terrific walking shorts, which looked almost like bloomers when shown with a sleeveless velvet coat in sherbet pink or orange.
Violetta Sanchez, once a muse to Helmut Newton and a recent collaborator with the curator Olivier Saillard on his unconventional fashion installations, opened the Lanvin show in a sleek one-shouldered black gown that, like much of the collection, had the carefree, no-bra-required elegance of a simple T-shirt dress (pictured, above). As the clothes became more complicated, rich sports-like netting effects combined with haphazard applications of lace and fringe, and the dancing stag print from the Lanvin offices, the depth and richness of Elbaz’s appreciation for the past and the future became all the more obvious.