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Spring 2005
A Jeweled Passion >
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Photographed by Gabriel Karanfil

Hot sunshine had bathed the Tuileries gardens in a golden light by the time the Lanvin show began on Sunday afternoon. Inside the tent, all was dark, muggy and calm. The staging was a black cubicle, a wooden plank floor, a simple curtain that led to backstage. And if you took away the flashes of paparazzi, the lights of television cameras (Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue looked puzzled as she replied to a reporter's question "Alber has so many gifts...."), the flow of fashionista, editors, cameramen, you would have the quintessence of this collection. Imagine a dressing room, and a woman trying on piece after piece, each one of them gently following the contour of her body, and each one of them accentuating her beauty.

There is a highly intimate quality to Alber Elbaz's work for Lanvin, and you could see it in glistening white chiffon dress adorned simply by a ribbon bow tie, in the gentle folds of an evening gown that lapped gracefully along the runway at the model's feet, in the understated elegance of white orchid appliqué placed against a glistening black suit. The shimmering effect was that of grace in motion.

A masculine theme - ties, cummerbund style belts, folds of material twisted to form elaborate bow ties - ironically only accentuated the femininity of the pieces.

The series of embroidered dresses that punctuated the finale - a bare branch with bursts of lotus blossoms, a motif of crimson orchids that swirled in an almost dragon-like motif, spoke in an oriental cadence, one so beautiful and so French at heart.

Backstage, a long line of the world's most influential editors and fashionista closed in around Alber. Perspiration had broken out on his brow as he said by way of explanation for what had just passed down the runway, "Lanvin loves you."

That's certainly what the world needs more of, and what is so clearly tested in the frayed, though tough threads that hold us all together.


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