Any minute now, the house of Lanvin will reveal a new creative director. By rights, this pre-fall 2024 collection should be not just a last palate-cleanser; it should also usher in a renaissance for a house that has been on one wild ride since the much-regretted Alber Elbaz was ousted eight years ago.
For the past two years, Deputy General Manager Siddhartha Shukla—a product guy par excellence who rose through the ranks at Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Theory—has been rethinking merchandising and delving into what Jeanne Lanvin stood for, as a proto feminist, a multi-hyphenate across creative spheres, and a single mother who in 1889 founded her own company, still the oldest continuously operating couture house in the world.
“Lanvin cannot be the house that disappeared,” Shukla said during a visit to the showroom near Parc Monceau. “It’s a very different mentality from a big group, but we’re bringing this house back by treating it like a start-up. Jeanne Lanvin was always looking for the ultimate French chic. So, what does the modernized version of her recipe look like? We owe her justice on that.”
One direction is building up day wear, whether via a café au lait jumpsuit, women’s and men’s tailoring in Japanese dry wool, or knit dress with a pointillist bent. Another is treating bijoux adornment as an identity statement, notably in a feline element lifted from a Rateau screen (here on a double-face wool peacoat or worked as sculptural handbag handles).
Nancy Cunard—writer, heiress, arts patron, social justice advocate, and all-around iconoclast—provided a throughline for riffs on masculine tropes and bohemia, including touchstones like grain de poudre suiting and timeless gowns. The brand appears to be seeking strength in simplicity: an absinthe green napa cape was paired with a pleated shirt dress in silk organza in the same hue (ditto a men’s wool jacket), a delicate openwork knit reprised Art Deco motifs, and a lush fuchsia knit that came with matching scarf.
“It’s about addressing the things that are important to a Lanvin woman, like waking up in the morning and not putting on a cocktail dress,” Shukla quipped. Sneakers, thankfully, seem like only one of several possible outcomes in a house originally conceived to hold any kind of product. Where it goes next will be one of the most closely watched stories of the season.