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Bouchra Jarrar enters a new era at Lanvin

 

Recently appointed artistic director of Lanvin, Bouchra Jarrar showed her first collection for the historic house during last month’s Paris fashion week. Inspired by the brand’s rich couture heritage, she proposed a hymn to the spirit of Jeanne Lanvin.

Bouchra Jarrar photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Bouchra Jarrar photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Numéro: In the past you’ve often expressed your happiness at working within your own small fashion house, which you built up yourself. How did you feel when you were asked to be the artistic director of Lanvin?

Bouchra Jarrar: First of all surprised; agreeably of course! I really wasn’t thinking about it, because I have no strategy in life. I’m not calculating. But I felt that I was ready. It’s a question of sincerity with regard to oneself. The desire to accept the offer became stronger as the discussions went on, because I began to imagine things artistically. It somehow seemed like the obvious thing to do. And also I was told that they wanted me for me, that they wanted me to carry on doing for Lanvin what I’d started doing for my own label. What could be more appealing to a creator? So I started work without worrying about what anyone would think. In any case that’s usually what I do, even for my own shows. I’m just carried along by the desire to give everyone a good time.

 

The brand was founded by a woman who was a visionary entrepreneur: very early on she invented a logo, she launched sports- and home-wear… Did you immediately find your marks with respect to Jeanne Lanvin?

Yes, because before being a brand Lanvin is the name of a woman who I respect absolutely, and whose story people don’t really know in the end. In the history of this house there’s a very intimate dimension, which is wonderful. Lanvin made clothes for children, and it was through following the growth of her daughter that she came to design women’s haute couture. She did it out of love. Also, before designing garments for women, she designed clothes for men. So I slipped a direct homage to this into my collection: I rereleased her embroidered ties, which completely won me over when I first discovered them. I was amazed how this couturier took the masculine in order to invent the feminine.

Lanvin spring-summer 2017

You avoided working directly from archive pieces though, which often gives results that are a little stiff and scholarly.

I didn’t want to disturb history, because it’s not a question of my name but of the house of Lanvin. I’m expressing a fashion of our times, which inevitably must evolve. So, with respect to this first runway show, I set out to express my vocabulary, to instill new codes.

 

In the collective imagination, Lanvin is associated with long and beautifully draped dresses, whereas you’re known above all for your impeccable tailoring and superb trousers. How did you manage this delicate crossover?

In truth there was no antagonism, because what people often forget is that Jeanne Lanvin designed trousers too − very beautiful flares, long before the 70s. She worked on busts and on live models, and her vision of women was very much influenced by the menswear she’d been making before.

 

You avoided working directly from archive pieces though, which often gives results that are a little stiff and scholarly.

I didn’t want to disturb history, because it’s not a question of my name but of the house of Lanvin. I’m expressing a fashion of our times, which inevitably must evolve. So, with respect to this first runway show, I set out to express my vocabulary, to instill new codes.

Lanvin spring-summer 2017

In the collective imagination, Lanvin is associated with long and beautifully draped dresses, whereas you’re known above all for your impeccable tailoring and superb trousers. How did you manage this delicate crossover?

In truth there was no antagonism, because what people often forget is that Jeanne Lanvin designed trousers too − very beautiful flares, long before the 70s. She worked on busts and on live models, and her vision of women was very much influenced by the menswear she’d been making before.

 

Do you work from moodboards?

I don’t like to see too many images. When I stand in front of a canvas or when I begin a drawing, an abundance of ideas comes that I have to sift through. Before that, it’s time for thought, which sometimes means simply walking, seeing girls in the street whose look inspires me. Then it’s time to edit: I know too well the value of the team’s work, I’m not going to have them waste their time on models that I might afterwards discard. What I ask is always carefully weighed up and very specific. A handkerchief hem mustn’t crinkle. The outline of a shoulder is extremely precise. The space where I create is in the atelier.

 

Lanvin spring-summer 2017

Lanvin is a world-class brand, with accessories to be honoured and developed. Is this an interesting challenge for you?

Yes, absolutely. I was very happy about all this potential for development, and I straightaway thought about the house’s different departments in a concern for coherence. Accessories are inevitably linked to prêt-à-porter. I wanted to make the bag and the shoe in coherence with the jewellery, which is one of the signature codes of Lanvin. These codes will be carried on afterwards. It’s important to bring a clear reading to the public. The name must instantly evoke a silhouette, a bag, a shoe. I almost think mathematically.

 

In your first collection there was a subtle tension between the sober lines of the clothes and the many embellishments, such as feathers, crystals or jewels, which is something you already explored with your own label. Do you enjoy playing with this almost frivolous, very decorative, aspect of fashion?

Yes I love it, just as much as constructing a blouse or designing a pair of trousers. A garment is a feeling, it must bring on emotion. Flowers and jewels were also part of the history of Jeanne Lanvin. Olivier Saillard, the chief curator of the Musée Galliera, has often spoken to me about her. For example she advised women that to be elegant they should take off most of their jewellery before going out in the evening, and just keep the minimum. I think that’s absolute chic. But for me chic is not to be found in diktats or in the repetition of stereotypes. I feel no need to have a muse because I aim to speak to all women. It’s diversity that interests me. In my runway show, I wanted to make every model as beautiful as possible by adapting the hair and make-up to each of their particularities. It’s a freedom that I always need to express – I need to do things the way I feel them.

 

Texte Delphine Roche

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