Bouchra Jarrar pulled off an impeccable debut Lanvin show on Wednesday at Paris fashion week despite the storm clouds still swirling around the troubled French label. The 45-year-old French designer took the helm of the fashion capital’s oldest couture house in March, five months after the shock sacking of its charismatic guiding light Alber Elbaz.
The hugely popular Elbaz had dragged the house from near oblivion during his 14 years in charge, and his departure sparked a revolt by staff and a haemorrhage of talent.
Jarrar’s appointment has not ended the turmoil surrounding the brand, with rumours persisting that a takeover could be in the offing to oust its redoubtable Taiwanese owner Shaw-Lan Wang.
But her first collection betrayed none of the behind the scenes drama, a procession of refined and elegant creations which exuded class.
All the Lanvin signatures of feathers and slightly bohemian narrow jackets were there, with pajama-stripe coats, embroidered flowers and silk trousers cut to fall perfectly over beaded flat sandals.
Unlike her own label’s daintily minimalist business day wear, these were clothes for parties, premieres and launches, and Jarrar brought in the big guns of the catwalk to model them, including Imaan Hammam, Liu Wen and Karlie Kloss, who finished the show.
Jarrar told AFP that she was zen despite all that was riding on the show, with Lanvin’s turnover sharply down. “I hate stress, I am someone who likes to anticipate things even if it means I have very full days,” she said.
And in as near a declaration that she is there for the long-haul, the quiet-spoken creator added, “I love to dress women, to reveal them to themselves… to cross borders between femininity and masculinity. Hence a wardrobe which shall evolve and echo itself from one season to the other.”
And the critics seemed to agree, with the Wall Street Journal’s Christina Blinkey tweeting afterwards that “Lanvin’s fortunes are about to change for the better”.