So, after 14 years of service, Alber Elbaz has departed Lanvin “on the decision of the company’s majority shareholder”. His dismissal comes hot on the heels of a 16-minute speech at last week’s Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars Awards (on accepting the Superstar award from Meryl Streep, an honour which officially confers the recipient with the privilege of just 120 seconds with which to express their appreciation), in which he slammed the industry’s snowballing focus on image, speed and noise for its squeezing out of dreams, intuition and feelings, saying, “I said, ‘I need more time’. And I think everybody in fashion these days needs just a little more time”.
His comments resonate with the concerns expressed by Raf Simons in the months preceding his resignation from Dior (announced on the day Elbaz delivered his emotive FGI speech), who, as we reported last week, had lamented the creative director’s increasing lack of “time for the whole process… you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important”. And, though it seems Raf jumped and Alber was pushed, isn’t the end result in each case the same? A victory for modern consumerism over creativity.
Is there any way back? Can the tyrannical rule of social media, not only the primary suspect in the case of the ever-accelerating pace of “fast fashion” but the reason no one ever really watches a fashion show IRL anymore, ever be toppled? Elbaz – who, shockingly, also claimed to eat, rather than photograph, his food, and comically quoted fashion ad exec pal Ronnie Newhouse in suggesting that an app be created for clapping, so as not to interrupt FROW-side finale filming – hit the nail on the head just as it was soundly hammered into the coffin of creative appreciation, bemoaning the instant-impact-hungry culture which proclaims “loudness” as “the new cool, and not only in fashion. I prefer whispering. I think it goes deeper and lasts longer”.
In giving him his marching orders, it appears Lanvin’s confidence in the ability of the modern consumer to discern a whisper amidst the “screaming screen” of their Instagram feed has been lost. Will the reported ‘revolt’ of Lanvin’s 330 employees be heard? Only time will tell.