There‘s no denying the feel-good factor at Lanvin, from the original ad campaigns (people are still giggling about the “bad dancing” videos posted on youtube) to the warm-and-fuzzy show soundtracks, which today ended with a reprise of Let’s Stay Together. And of course there are the quintessentially French, chic and user-friendly clothes that have attracted legions of fans and made Alber Elbaz an eternal shoo-in at houses suffering from prolonged revolving-door syndrome.

And yet, this time around, one felt the need to leave that comfort zone. Sure, the collection had its merits. As always, the separates, tailoring and eveningwear in somber shades were superbly crafted. The sultry dresses with sheer bottom halves revealing bodysuits were winning pieces.

What the show lacked was an element of surprise. Elbaz shook things up by referencing sportswear, using jaunty fabrics such as neoprene. He placed several slits on his outfits and reworked tuxedos as sleeveless jackets. He toyed with the eighties by sending out strong-shouldered tops and jackets, as well as Versace–style pins on dresses, not to mention strange snake prints and embroidery. For an unpredictable house, the overall effect was unusually predictable.

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