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Does Bruno Sialelli have the formula to save Lanvin?

By Kristopher Fraser


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When Bruno Sialelli was announced as Lanvin's creative director a month ago, he had a very tough task ahead of him. The brand's iconic creative director, Alber Elbaz, had been ousted, his successor, Bouchra Jarrar, didn't have the formula for success that shareholders were hoping for, and her successor, Olivier Lapidus, didn't even make it two years, leaving Sialelli with the monumental task of turning around a historic fashion house that had been around since 1889, but was now floundering.

Sialelli's runway debut for the brand arrived at Paris Fashion Week just yesterday, with an attempt to hit the restart button at the French fashion house. After the brand's previous several failed attempts, it looks like Sialelli might possibly have that magic touch needed to carry the stagnant luxury brand into a new era. However, Sialelli should be cautious of being too eager to please every facet and potential facet of Lanvin's customer.

Bruno Sialelli debuts first collection for Lanvin

His debut womenswear collection (with a few sprinkles of menswear thrown in), was filled with Parisian chic clean lines and silhouettes, an approach to minimalism, a few playful moments with maximalism, use of graphic designs on t-shirts, oversized handbags, and an expected use of luxurious leathers. Dare the word democratic be used here, especially in describing a luxury brand, but there was something for everyone here, from the street style stars looking for an outfit to get them photographed at Fashion Week, to those women who are longing for minimalist French luxury after Phoebe Philo's departure from Celine.

However, what luxury brand's need now is something to set them apart from competitors. Just look at Gucci, which is the dream turnaround formula for any struggling luxury brand to replicate, who placed Alessandro Michele at the helm and managed to rise above the pack with their maximalist designs. Sialelli's collection looked like it could easily hold up in the department stores against brand's like his previous employer Loewe, as well as Loewe's creative director Jonathan Anderson's own eponymous label J.W. Anderson.

On the bright side, the department stores can look at it and expect it to be something sellable, but as a consumer, what does the new Lanvin have to offer that their target audience didn't get from the already trendy and in-style Loewe already. It is Sialelli's first collection though, and the designer proved two things to us: he knows how to appeal to a variety of customers, and he understands the current state of today's luxury market.

Jarrar, while a talented designer, was much too minimalist for an era where brand turnarounds were engineered by either maximalism or streetwear, often a combination of both. Sialelli seems to be much more in tune with today's customer, and the real challenge of any fashion brand, especially one looking to turn a profit, is not the artistry of design, but how customers respond at retail. Sialelli knows how to appeal to the fashionistas of today, and while the proof won't be in the pudding until we start seeing Lanvin's fall sales, at Paris Fashion Week he gave us a glimmer of hope for the storied fashion house.

Photos: Lanvin AW19, Catwalkpictures.com
Bruno Sialelli
Paris Fashion Week