Another Farewell at Lanvin
Posted November 15, 2018 9:47 p.m. EST
The march to the exits at major European fashion labels continued Thursday with the announcement that Lucas Ossendrijver, the men’s wear designer at Lanvin, had departed after 14 years.
Ossendrijver was a survivor from a dream team assembled in Lanvin’s post-millennium heyday when Alber Elbaz, as creative director of women’s wear, brought luster — if not always relevance — back to a storied brand founded in Paris by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889.
Creative differences were as usual cited when Elbaz was abruptly ousted in October 2015, after disagreements about the brand’s direction with the former majority shareholder Shaw-Lan Wan.
Since that announcement, the revolving door has kept spinning. Elbaz’s successor, Bouchra Jarrar, departed after 16 months (and declining sales), followed by Olivier Lapidus, who left the label in March after a mere two seasons and barely a month after the luxury house had been acquired by Fosun International.
Industry speculation that the company plans to combine its men’s and women’s divisions under a sole creative director (Bruno Sialelli, the former head of men’s wear design at Loewe, according to Women’s Wear Daily) demonstrates the allure of a business model deployed with phenomenal success at Gucci, where gender distinctions are blurred and what fortifies the bottom line is not apparel but accessories.
In praising the outgoing Ossendrijver, Lanvin’s chief executive, Jean-Philippe Hecquet, cited the very qualities that may have doomed him — or, in truth, any designer with greater gifts in the workroom than on social media.
Hecquet noted that over the course of a decade the quiet and workmanlike Dutch designer, who cut his teeth at Kenzo and Hedi Slimane’s Dior, had aided the house in forging “an era of elegant minimalism that eschewed trends.'’ While is true that Ossendrijver articulated an assured design vision for what Hecquet termed a “contemporary man,'’ what he seemingly failed to produce was the signature best-selling sneaker no designer can survive without.