Fashion
  • Text Alex James Taylor
  • 19th October 2020

Garden of happiness

This season Bruno Sialelli took Lanvin to Shanghai, on a voyage “through space, through time.” Set in the city’s opulent 16th century Yu Garden [translated as Garden of Happiness], the location was chosen as a symbol of contrast between rural and urban, history and modernity.

Since arriving at the Parisian fashion house, Sialelli’s dialogue has been a constant time travel trip through epochs, eras and cultures. For SS21, the designer honed in on the interwar years, when Jeanne Lanvin really established the house via vibrant and optimistic design, riffing on the nascent art deco movement of the time. Holding up a mirror to our current global climate, Sialelli looked to this history as “a blueprint to evolve, to experiment, to dream” – here, it resurfaces, and in doing so, makes itself available for new meanings.

Backdropped by the Yu Garden’s incredible lights and lanterns, Julius Eastman’s 1973 propulsive minimalist composition Stay On It floated into the night sky and models began to make their way through the Garden’s walkways. Building bridges through Lanvin’s history and beyond, Sialelli riffed on hallmarks of the house. A robe de style hooped dress inspired by the silhouettes of the 18th century became a foundational form, its elegant volume reimagined in sharp tailoring and luxurious coats. Bows became a symbol of togetherness and femininity while ballerina slippers complemented the delicacy of the looks. Menswear was an ideal counterpart, in silk shirts, casual tailoring, shorts and soft knits. Throughout, a collaboration with the estate of Swiss and French artist Jean Dunand decorated pieces, with the exotic foliage of his 1930 screen Forêt creating a lush dialogue with the show’s floral surroundings. Dunand worked during the 20s, applying abstract shapes and decoration to luxury objects he elevated established memories with exciting new possibilities – a trait Sialelli can certainly relate to.