Lanvin is an evolving puzzle, with pieces still missing even as new ones appear. Putting it mildly, last season was a disaster for newcomer Olivier Lapidus, who faced the pressure of a tight turnaround (less than 40 days to craft the entire collection). The Lanvin Spring/Summer 2018 collection was so bad that it became legendary for all the wrong reasons, and was universally panned by critics.
However, in defense of Lapidus, here are some factors to consider while viewing his sophomore effort: He was practically set up for failure when he revealed that Lanvin’s new strategy under Lapidus was to become the “French Michael Kors.” The subtext here is that Kors’ success lies with its mass commercial appeal, which flies in the face of Lanvin’s more exclusive, glamorous ethos.
Lapidus vehemently denied that he ever said this. In an exclusive interview with Ming’s, he rejected the idea, stating, “I did not say I wanted to turn Lanvin into a French version of Michael Kors. I do not know why Business of Fashion [reported this]. It’s really regrettable to say this; it’s a big talk. This is junk news, maybe I should sue them.”
Second, Lanvin has been owned by Taiwanese media magnate, Shaw-Lan Wang, but she just sold her majority stake in the company to the Chinese international conglomerate and investment company, Fosun International Limited. Lapidus was close with Wang – who appointed him – but rumor has it that Fosun has him on a tight leash this season. If his collection doesn’t perform well, he’ll likely be ousted after only two seasons just like his predecessor, Bouchra Jarrar. That means he has limited time to expand his offerings, or to set Lanvin on a new path. This puts a huge amount of pressure on his Fall/Winter 2018 collection, especially because Lanvin is currently operating at a severe loss.
With the weight of all factors under consideration, it’s a miracle that Lapidus was able to pull off a more palatable sophomore presentation.
Unfortunately, in order to properly maintain his position, Lapidus must do more than simply step it up from last season’s quagmire. When you’re at the bottom, a step up is still the penultimate bottom.
With the weight of all factors under consideration, it’s a miracle that Lapidus was able to pull off a more palatable sophomore presentation. With some fantastic orange leather pieces pulled from the brand’s Claude Montana-led era, and a few pleated tulle pieces that were reminiscent of Alber Elbaz’s beautifully draped daywear, Lapidus delivered a more “on-message” collection. However, the thick, double-faced duchesse satin pieces were awkward, especially in the case of a navy peplum top worn over a canary yellow turtleneck and trouser combination.
Inspired by the works of digital artist Krista Kim, whose vividly hued gradient pieces blur the lines between technology and art, Lapidus had a clear reference point, executed across his own bespoke fabrics. It’s a start, but with the threat of a finish line looming near, one wonders how the market will react.