Bouchra Jarrar's debut at the house of Lanvin was always going to be a tough gig. With the incredible house-centric codes of Alber Albaz's tenure seemingly brushed under the carpet, we are now starting on a new journey.
Having operated solely within the world of couture, Jarrar's recent career has - up until now - been imbued with the quality and craftsmanship of les petites mains. But what about those customers who aren't yet familiar with the caché of the designer's back catalogue? Never one to push luxury in our faces, the fact that Jarrar's work is super haute here ran the risk of being taken for granted.
Playing within the boundaries of 'veiling and unveiling', Jarrar announced in the show notes that she was embarking on an ongoing narrative around 'the exchange of masculinity and femininity.' This collection wasn't the start of such an exploration. Some of the elements that sat within this were a continuation of what she had been previously doing at her own label, but here, it lost some intellect. For S/S 16 haute couture, Jarrar played with transparencies in more of an artsy way. This season, it looked a bit more like a red carpet affair. With white plumage, military detailing, black lace and chiffon, some of it starting to feel a bit too derivative of Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy. The trailing bracelets, J.W. Anderson for Loewe.
The collection felt like it needed an edit - or more of a focus. The strength of the pinstripe dandy pyjama sections were great - and standing alone were a good starting point. Expecting customers to part with big bucks for a cream satin dress - with not much more than a single dart - seemed a bit of a stretch. Designers don't get away with such things, unless there are many more luxurious things that dress will be associated with first. It takes a few seasons to lay down such foundations. Again, it's not the first time Jarrar has done such styles, though at her own label these kind of draped dresses always looked roomier and more luxurious. The ongoing use of diamanté against black also didn't look like the most expensive of aesthetics. The branded fans we were all given, ditto. The commercial expectations of this house were felt in places - my empathy goes to the designer. Perhaps it’s time to regroup, and to focus on the bits that will re-build this brand's credibility.