The haze of fog from which the models emerged at Lanvin may have been slightly disconcerting, but luckily they were dressed in a vision that was crystal clear. Alber Elbaz is evidently feeling dark: the tent was black, the runway was black, and the clothes were - yes, predominantly black. But there was as always far far more to this than meets the eye.
What better way to epater le bourgeoisie than to twist their own sartorial rules on their head, Elbaz evidently reasoned. With that in mind he looked back to old-school gloved and heeled femininity, the collection revolving around resolutely traditional standards of overcoat, trouser-suit, cocktail dress, plisse blouse, clutch firmly clutched, jewels at the wrist and throat. Indeed, a more classic, modest wardrobe could not be wished for. The colours too were purposely banal: every shade of black, a little taupe, french navy and a touch of glitter for evening, madam. Yet as with Belle De Jour, Elbaz's veneer of convention hid a seductive core. There were touches of subtle perversity in the contrast of shiny shiny patent leather and fur, chiffon pleated to expose slithers of nude flesh, and the deshabille eroticism of a fallen shoulder strap, single bared arm or blouse tugged to expose a strikingly naked shoulder.
Halfway through, as Roxy Music's 'Same Old Scene' began, we realised we had seen the scene before. Elbaz's elegance referenced every chic woman from the thirties through to now, but his talent was in interpreting these traditional codes of female allure without a whiff of nostalgia. Through his work for Lanvin, Elbaz seems on a mission to utilise tradition to craft an entirely new way for women to dress, deconstructing ideas of decoration so that exposed seams and reversed darts stood up like fins to define the silhouette and act as post-modern flourishes, embroidery seemed slightly unravelled and golden sequins had a burnished, dirty glitter. His talent is in introducing these ideas to long-established modes of dressing and making them not only palettable, but achingly desirable. If Galliano's vision represented the glory of the past and Stefano Pilati's the uncompromising promise of the future, then Elbaz's consumate rendering of modern woman is exactly where fashion should be right now.