Not only does Alber Elbaz come across as being a really nice guy, he also designs incredibly well for Lanvin (not that we needed to tell you that), coming up with a perfect balance between design, wearability, elegance and luxury each season, that fits perfectly with Lanvin's image. At a time when nearly everyone is trying to be 'avante-garde' or subversive or 'thought provoking,' there's something very comforting about the way that Elbaz consistently designs soft, wearable, collections that really 'respect' women (Elbaz isn't a size fascist, he doesn't truss his models up in uncomfortable bondage gear or awkward concept clothing, and he doesn't send them out in lethal heels). When we think of Lanvin, aside from luxurious, the word that really springs to mind is lovely. That's not to label Lanvin as dull and passive (remember those much imitated conical spiked heels that everyone was clamouring for a few seasons ago?), but rather to praise Elbaz's thoughtful approach to fashion, which we love within its context (of course it would get dull if all designers worked that way, but for Lanvin it's perfect).
There is of course the issue that as much as we can go on about how Elbaz really understands what a lot of women want to wear and designs accordingly, Lanvin's clothes are, to put not to fine a point on it, not cheap, and only a small number can actually afford them. Still, because of the way more affordable brands look to high fashion for inspiration (or sometimes downright copying), it's likely those without a Lanvin budget (the majority of people) can benefit indirectly from the way Elbaz promotes wearable, stylish, and good quality clothes. There is also something quite 'friendly' about Lanvin's luxury, compared to brands like Chanel and Tom Ford (incidentally Elbaz was creative director at Yves Saint Laurent before Tom Ford bought the house in 2000 and forced him out in order to instate himself) which seem to have a more aggressively luxurious, pretentious, almost snobbish edge. We can't speak for the new London store yet, but is it a coincidence that both the Paris stores and the London men's store feel much less intimidating than other designer stores (even those of less luxurious brands) and have helpful staff with no better-than-you attitude, quite a miracle by Paris standards? The key, both with the clothes and the stores, seems to be that Elbaz really knows how to make the customer (even the non-buying customer) feel good, which is probably why we could go on and on praising Lanvin, and which will be a factor that should help Lanvin whether the recession, despite their prices and luxurious image.
Lanvin, 128 Mount Street, London W1K 3NU. Tel: +44 (0) 207 49 11 839