Because the Art Deco archives Bruno Sialelli is tackling at Lanvin are already an acquired taste, he is left with two options: Do you go the polite way, use it sparingly and open the door to a bigger potential audience?
Or, do you go all in, amplify it, and secure yourself a perhaps smaller but more die-hard clientele? It would seem Sialelli has chosen the latter. The glamour-positivity that’s been embedded in his recent collections is now as full glitz as that customer could want: gilded embellishment, baby robe de style numbers, and cocktail dresses studded like skyscrapers.
“Most of the dresses we sold lately were the strongest ones, like Bella [Hadid]’s Lurex dress from the campaign,” Sialelli explained during a collection preview in his Paris showroom.
“Most of the customers that come to us are coming to get supported by glamorous, fabulous products. They search for an elevated and more confident version of themselves.” Those facts encouraged him to push the envelope further. In what he called a “bold and joyful and free and unapologetic” proposition, the designer explored Pop-Arty daisy prints, dense tinselling, and motifs from 1940s Batman comics.
If it sounds like a jarring mix, it was. High-octane glamour has always walked a fine line between good taste and bad, and the collection’s clash between Batman-adorned metallic gazar dresses, so shiny they looked wet, and tinselled skirt suits was subversive to say the least. Talking about his vision for the collection, Sialelli referenced the way animated worlds freely mix styles and cultures.
“Like a dream village in Pinocchio made up of a Bavarian church and an English house, and all this is mixed and looks new. I love that idea, and I love the way it’s applied in Batman.”
The superhero entered the picture courtesy of Tim Burton’s 1992 masterpiece Batman Returns, which Sialelli loved growing up. “The styling of the Art Deco through the lens of the movie was very interesting to us, because fashion is about creating dreams informed by many references that you relate very freely,” he said.
After the pandemic, we all need a hero, but wearing him on a cocktail dress might be a curious move, even for Lanvin’s top-tier glamazons. The reference was most successfully translated into the shapes of Sialelli’s menswear, which is often more suited to the childlike whims that have previously made for great motifs in his work.
In this case, the broad-shouldered silhouette of the Batman universe drew a Tamara de Lempicka–esque line, which made Sialelli’s Lanvin man feel a little more mature. That feeling was echoed in two beautifully cut trench coats, which hung off the body almost like evening dresses. If Naomi Campbell has her own Bat-Signal lighting up the skies, someone summoned her last night: The supermodel closed the show, wafting through the Salle Pleyel in billowing black chiffon like the Caped Crusader.