Lanvin, whose beloved longtime designer Alber Elbaz was ousted last fall in what critic Vanessa Friedman called a “very ugly divorce,” has been visibly struggling without him. WWD reports that Bouchra Jarrar, who has done stints at Balenciaga and Christian Lacroix and launched her own house in 2010, will start as artistic director of women’s collections on Monday.
Jarrar’s appointment has been rumored over the past few days; other designers in the running were reportedly Simone Rocha, Huishan Zhang and Erdem Moralioglu. Jarrar, known for her minimal, streamlined sportswear, puts “quality and technical finesse ahead of razzmatazz,” WWD reports; Vanessa Friedman at the New York Times describes her as “one of the few independent female designers working in Paris,” and a designer who has “the goodwill of the industry.”
Her first collection will be the Resort 2016 precollection, showing in Paris just a few months away in June.
“Her timeless style is in keeping with the style and values of our company,” said Lanvin chief executive officer Michèle Huiban. “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 couture house, a symbol of French elegance.”
In a statement, Jarrar, 45, said her intention is to “bring to Lanvin the harmony and consistency of a fashion designed for women, a fashion of our time.”
Jarrar’s challenge is significant—her predecessor, who was at Lanvin for 14 years, was ousted amidst rapidly declining profits (from $15.3 million in 2012 to $3.9 million in 2014). Alber Elbaz, like many of his contemporaries, appeared to chafe at the increasingly breakneck pace of the industry; from Vanessa Friedman’s piece for the New York Times on his departure:
Receiving his Fashion Group International award, he said, “We designers, we started as couturiers, with dreams, with intuition, with feeling.” Then, he said: “We became ‘creative directors,’ so we have to create, but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers, creating a buzz, making sure that it looks good in the pictures. The screen has to scream, baby.”
But, he said, “I prefer whispering.”
Elbaz has yet to announce what his next move is.
Unlike Elbaz, who helmed both the men’s and women’s collections, Jarrar will only oversee women’s; WWD reports that men’s designer Lucas Ossendrijver is rumored to be solidifying his position in contract discussions.
Lanvin chief executive Michèle Huiban told Vanessa Friedman at the Times that “Bouchra seemed a natural for our house, founded by a woman. I felt an immediate and very true connection when we met.” According to Huiban, Jarrar plans to shutter her own house (which became an official couture house in 2013) to focus on Lanvin.
“What happened before me, happened before,” Jarrar told the Times. “Now I am starting my own chapter.”
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