At last, news that Lanvin has appointed an official artistic director to head up their womenswear following Alber Elbaz’s shocking departure last year after a 14-year tenure at the house. This morning it
was announced that Bouchra Jarrar will assume the role, starting on Monday.
But who is Jarrar, and what does her appointment mean? It is firstly, a distinctly unusual appointment not least beause Jarrar is a woman- the lack of female creative directors at fashion houses is remarkable, but the number gets even slimmer when looking at French ateliers- and is a nod to Lanvin’s founder Jeanne Lanvin more than a century ago.
Whilst Coco Chanel is often cited as the first feminist designer, un-plucking the corset and introducing slacks and flats to modern women’s wardrobe, Jeanne, who pre-dated Chanel by 25 years deserves much the same reputation. Jeanne’s designs were luxurious but wearable, in Albaz’s words "they were soft, draped and in quiet colors – they didn’t scream." In short, she cared about the comfort of women. Much like Albaz in recent times, Jeanne dressed actresses of the ’20s and ’30s; Mary Pickford, Marlene Dietrich and Rita Hayworth all came to her for personal fittings.
But back to 2016; Jarrar’s fashion credentials need very little decoration; her previously-held positions mean she’s earned the haute couture appellation and suggest a bright future for Lanvin under her direction. In 2010, she launched her eponymous fashion house and was formerly studio director at Balenciaga under Nicolas Ghesquière and head of couture design for Christian Lacroix.
Jarrar told Business Of Fashion: "It is a huge honour to continue promoting the Lanvin style, with designs created in the company’s ateliers by teams who possess extraordinary expertise. Joining Lanvin meets a desire to expend my creation to wider fields of expression. It is my intention to bring to Lanvin the harmony and consistency of a fashion designed for women, a fashion of our time."
Jarrar’s signature streamlined sportswear and exquisitely-cut daywear that favours technical quality over any frilliness, might mean a loosening of ties at Lanvin. Under previous artistic director Alber Elbaz, who was ousted from the house last October after almost 15 years, the cocktail dress was cemented as Lanvin’s signature offering, with red carpet dressing at the forefront of the house’s vision .
Jarrar has some challenges to overcome with her new appointment. Lanvin has suffered from sliding sales and dissatsfication in-house, with workers at the house striking and initiating work tribunal proceedings following Elbaz’s removal. However, Michèle Huiban, chief executive officer of Lanvin, has faith: "Bouchra Jarrar is a talented and visionary designer. She is the obvious choice for Lanvin. Her timeless style is in keeping with the style and values of our company, founded by Jeanne Lanvin more than a century ago. Her talent, her high standards and her mastery of cuts and fabrics will bring a breath of freshness and modernity into the house, while respecting its soul as the oldest Paris fashion house, a symbol of French elegance." The saga continues…
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