Fashion
  • Text Tempe Nakiska
  • Photography Portia Hunt
  • 22nd January 2017

Nothing / everything

Fashion can sometimes feel like a symphony of too many parts, too busy to define any one element. At Lanvin, Lucas Ossendrijver suggested we take a more nihilistic approach.

It was there from the outset, the first model wearing a scarf that stated, ‘Nothing’. No branding, no logo, no collaboration, no political statement – literally nothing. Ossendrijver had been preoccupied with the essentials of a man’s wardrobe, thinking about how he could give new meaning to items like the coat or the plaid shirt, stripping things back rather than adding on. The designer explained that he “wanted to concentrate on the essence of the design, the construction and proportions.” That first coat, a deep navy duffle, epitomised that, all focus on structure and oversized, hooded silhouette. With nothing but that scarf and a necklace on the upper half, all eyes were on the quality of construction – a point Lanvin prides itself on, and which has framed Ossendrijver’s output at the house. When Mme Jeanne Lanvin founded her eponymous brand in 1889, her business grew rapidly due to her renown as a tailor, and fashion innovator. In the Lanvin book, luxury means simplicity – not decoration.

And so those wardrobe staples got a work out through a play on proportions. Ossendrijver’s signature wide-legged trouser was offset by colourful renditions of the chino pant, patchworked in a milieu of fabrics or in hue gradient hand-dyed cotton. Shoulders were broadened, suspending suit jackets with the perfect balance of rigidity and flow. A mustard overcoat early on in the piece proposed a fantastic new silhouette, nipped in at the waist and with the tiniest pleats at the shoulder. You could see the inspiration coming to life in such nuances – “the poetry of an unexpected detail, the subtlety of a shift, the humility of a fabric”. In a season where the reference ‘utility’ has been used one too many times, a designer who brings attention back to the subtle beauty of clothes clearly knows what’s up.

That word “unexpected” is also important – Ossendrijver knows that it’s not exactly ‘Nothing’ that makes a piece ‘Everything’. It’s the little details, the warped, the slightly odd or conventionally imperfect that create true beauty. Things that are of this earth. Like the natural-hued fabrics: cotton, wool and leather, which was hand-rubbed for a Perfecto motorcycle jacket, the process accentuating its natural grain. And there it was – a return to the base of things, stripped of refinery and pomp, truly lovely. Of that, Ossendrijver is master.