Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thoughts on Lanvin and "The Economy of Cut"

At a time when, as Cathy Horyn writes in On the Runway, there is a "gloom supplied at once by the economic crisis and the expensive orgy of the [fashion] shows," it's nice to know that some designers have the economy in mind.
One of the things that surprised me most when I first arrived in NYC and started working with Nicolas was the complete lack of consideration for how much fabric a pattern would require. There were numerous circumstances where a some extravagant dress needed five yards of fabric when it could have been made with two, had a simple seamline been added in a strategic and unobtusive place. I'm sure this was because we worked on pieces for the collections, and had they been production patterns we would have worked differently. All the same, it was exciting to read a review of Lanvin by Sarah Mower on style.com and hear that his runway pieces were patterned with a mind towards efficiency and a reduction of waste. Here's an excerpt:

"Can voluptuous fashion stay relevant in an age of austerity? Can gorgeous decoration coexist with the need for something plain and simple? Ask Alber Elbaz, a man whose recipe for reductionism and all-out gorgeousness squared the circle with a unique flourish. "Whatever's happening now," he said, "it's the end of fake. What's not real will go. What we have to do now is make life easier for women."

To him, that meant going back to the studio with scissors and fabric and working out, first, a supreme economy of cut and design. Airy shapes in poufy gazar, duchesse satin, georgette, and cloque were crafted from single shots of color in one-shouldered tops, balloon-sleeved blouses, and shifts in which the only feature is an internal drape that adds a miraculously chic fillip to the hip line."

Of course we are still talking about pieces that cost thousands of dollars. But if other fashion houses follow suit and direct part of their creative energy at diminishing the wasteful and "expensive orgy" aspect of the process, I for one will be much happier working in the world of high fashion.

Elbaz's pieces, by the way, are stunning. Here are some of my favorites:

The color combination of this one is so unexpected but pretty -- but look at the back of the other one! The front was very plain. I love designs with more going on in back, it adds an air of mystery.

This one almost looks like it's just pulled up on her thigh from static cling. I love clothes that walk that line between "is that an accident, or is it a stylistic choice...?"

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