How to explain Alber Elbaz at Lanvin? While scrabbling for adjectives and hyperbole to adequately express the continual elation one feels during a Lanvin presentation, I could think of nothing better than Coco Chanel's heady praise for Cristobal Balenciaga: 'He is the world's best and only dressmaker.' Lofty a mantle this may seem for anyone, young or old, to inherit, but increasingly it seems it should sit on Elbaz's shoulders. His S/S 2010 collection was as exquisite, as refined and as perfect an expression of the art of dressmaking as we have come to expect from his expert hands. This season, as always, neatly dovetailed into that which preceeded it, continuing Elbaz's experiments in asymmetry, drapery, le tailleur and le flou. Of all designers working today, his hand is one of the surest and most consistent, content - as with masters past - to take a single, simple idea and riff a dozen or so variations. This season, he continued his experiments with asymmetry, with wrapped drapery and single-sleeves, dresses rendered as exquisite air-filled meringues of magically weightless silk faille or duchesse satin. Alongside, seamless seagued, there was a new feeling of deshabille: a single glove, one shoulder-strap tumbling onto the upper arm, a pink organza gown peeling away from its flesh underpinnings. There was also a new structure, evident in the opening outfits of black, navy and red, dresses rendered like tuxedo-jackets with cinched waists and taut little skirts, or trussed with a single giant ruffle, buoying into a sleeve, snaking into a peplum then trailing into a ribbon arabesque along the hip. After these pure experiments in architectural cut came Elbaz's stab at party-wear - crusted with sequins or inch-long bugle beads in perroquet shades of vermillion, teal or chrysoprase. Litany aside, Elbaz's work is far more than the sum of its parts. Everything, but everything, had the effortless simplicity ironically only ever born of discipline, and of experience - both of which Elbaz has in spades. Admittedly, there was very little a woman could conceivably wear before five o'clock in the afternoon - a couple of bubbled-chiffon frocks and little chain-trim trenches with snakeskin shoulderbags do not a daywear collection make - but no worry. Women don't come to Lanvin for daywear. They don't come for anything work-a-day, humdrum or ordinary. Women come to Lanvin - or more specifically, to Alber Elbaz - to dream.
This season, as always, neatly dovetailed into that which preceeded it, continuing Elbaz's experiments in asymmetry, drapery, le tailleur and le flou.