Saturday, March 14, 2015


The Lanvin exhibition plays with mirrors.
Fresh from its super-successful retrospective of Tunisian-born stylist Azzedine Alaïa, Paris’ Museum of Fashion, the Palais Galliera, is now offering an impressive show that honours French designer Jeanne Lanvin.

Running until 23 August 2015, the exhibition features more than 100 creations from the oldest French fashion house still in business, and Lanvin’s artistic director Alber Elbaz and the Galliera’s director and curator Olivier Saillard have designed the display in such an imaginative way that it will appeal even to those not necessarily interested in fashion.

Using mirrors to reflect and recreate Jeanne Lanvin’s world of the 1920s and 30s, Elbaz and Saillard manage to take visitors back in history while still highlighting the timeless beauty of the designs.

“The theme is sleeping beauty and the mirrors reflect the past and reveal the present,” Elbaz told Tasshon.

The poster for the show.
Most of the garments are displayed inside glass cases with a mirror-panel that plays tricks with the vision: viewers see multiple images, of the clothing, ceiling and even themselves.

Elbaz said the idea for the mirrors was just pure intuition. “Sometimes things just come,” he said. “When we put the mirrors up and turned the lights on, and we saw the reflection of the clothes and the ceiling, it was like magic. The idea is of sleeping beauty and magic.”

This theme has particular resonance for Elbaz because when he was brought in as Lanvin’s artistic director 14 years ago, the company’s owners set him the task of arousing a “sleeping beauty”.

Since then, he has done a much-lauded job, all the while expressing a deep admiration for Lanvin’s founder. Indeed, this exhibition seems almost like a private and heartfelt tribute to Jeanne Lanvin.

Lanvin started as a milliner.
Born in 1867, the designer started her career as a milliner and some of her exquisite hats are included in the display, alongside the haute-couture dresses for which she eventually became famous.

With their remarkable embroidery, intricate beading and elegant cut, these dresses are the stars of the shows, and viewers will find themselves marvelling at the originality and craftsmanship.

To prepare the garments for this retrospective, experts spent “hundreds of hours” doing repair work, Elbaz said.

“Have you ever seen museum experts at work, with the gloves and all that, as if performing a very delicate operation?” he asked as he gave a tour of the exhibition to fashion editors and writers.

Alber Elbaz
The show also includes sketches, scrapbooks, paintings and photographs, as well as dolls that may have belonged to Lanvin’s only daughter Marguerite, whom the designer considered her muse. The Lanvin logo actually represents a mother-and-daughter team.

“The whole spirit of the fashion house is summed up in that logo,” Elbaz has said. That spirit is just one reason this is a perfect exhibition to view en famille, as children will appreciate the fairy-tale quality.

“When you can have your feet on the ground and your head in the moon, it’s just perfect,” Elbaz said. - Tasshon