Fashion is as much about psychology and timing as it is about launching yet more pretty dresses on the world. Being able to articulate that is one of Alber Elbaz's chief fortes, and the editors who were invited to the intimate show-and-tell about his Lanvin pre-fall collection in a room at the Hotel Crillion were treated to a full explication about the depth of his research into how women think about clothes. He assigned each member of his team to look at the work of a great woman designer, starting (of course) with Jeanne Lanvin, but also of Chanel, Schiaparelli, Claire McCardell, Anne Klein, Rei Kawakubo, Vivienne Westwood, Jil Sander, and Miuccia Prada. "What I came back to was that women designers think much more about functionality and comfort," he said. Of course, it all ended up looking like Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, 2008, but the attitude, thoughtfulness, and odd constructional detail came through: a soft Chanel-homage cardigan suit scattered with sparkling "Schiap" embroidery, "accidental draping" placed on a utilitarian knit à la Kawakubo, and puffy washed silk "nylon-look" raincoats lined in fur with a nod in the direction of Ms. Prada. The jewelry—giant multi-chained "charm" necklaces hung with turtles, lizards, spiders, beetles, and collections of "concierge" keys—was inimitably his own. More important, however, was the mood, which, in spite of the stealthy opulence built into every piece, came from Elbaz's reading of the moment. "It's a bit longer, looser, maybe more conservative," he observed, looking over his work. "Maybe we're hungry for a bit more modesty these days."
Sarah Mower http://www.style.com/trends/blogs/style_file