At the break-neck pace of today’s apparel industry, paying respect to the past, enlivening the world through art, and honoring one’s contemporaries may seem like bygone notions. Considering we live in a time of fast fashion and instant gratification an ear to the ground, a steady internet connection, and a stack of party invitations would seem to be the only things you need to gauge the next big thing. How rare is it then that two people, one creating the here-and-now of fashion and the other whose storied couture house makes the latter possible, should find themselves kindred spirits?
Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli shared their own Impossible Conversation last month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; together an indomitable force to be reckoned with I am sure. The similarities are apparent, strong women who have shaped the landscape of fashion in very brash ways; however, as contemporaries I cannot be sure if they would have been fast friends. In this instance, it seems more appropriate to highlight two people who would have been drawn to one another because of their desire to make the world a happy and beautiful place where women are comforted by the clothing they wear and that fashion is as much about the function of lifestyle as it is about making statements. Alber Elbaz and Jeanne Lanvin are two such people.
I imagine Alber and Jeanne sitting down to a cup of tea, early in the morning, each comfortable with their solitude but brimming with life, ideas, and love of the art of fashion. Jeanne Lanvin, the namesake of the oldest couture house in France, was a collector of beauty and ‘let nothing and nobody diminish her curiosity for contemporary arts, new forms, and cultures of the world.’
For Alber, a man who bases the new Lanvin collections on stories he visualizes, the tale of Jeanne’s life must be mesmerizing.
His respect for the tradition of draping and embellishing clothing in ‘a magnificently artistic’ way is evident and his love of women and their happiness in the clothing, a feeling which runs congruent with the reason behind the founding of the house of Lanvin. To both Jeanne and Alber fashion is a lifestyle and the need for clothing to embody the emotion of that lifestyle is evidenced by the continuation of Lanvin into the 21st century.