Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ALBER ELBAZ / LANVIN MANIFESTE Exhibition at the Maison Européene de la Photographie

In his studio Alber Elbaz, the Artistic Director of Lanvin since 2001, is used to working around the body, with a model and his team. Everyone simply calls him "Alber", a testament to their discreet affection and obvious complicity. He works on his collections in a dimly lit room, using a blank page and a black pen, concentrating on how best to portray in his pieces the true desire of women. He guides his modélistes at every stage of the design process, providing solutions to any technical issues encountered along the way. The pace of the collection gathers enormous momentum and every season presents a new pretext for further research in his design studio on Rue Faubourg-Sain-Honoré.

Albert does not have an email address. He does not use social networks and lets others take care of documenting his work through photography or film. For Lanvin, the designer promotes a less square, rounder world, where screens are forgotten for a time and people are once again the centre of attention. How can this vision be transposed three-dimensionally to display images that essentially have only two?

Orchestrated by Alber Elbaz with the support of his teams, this exhibition immerses the visitor in the intimacy of the fittings, the excitement of the Lanvin shows and the beauty of its designs. This is a first in the history of the oldest French fashion house still in operation today. Five rooms are designed as settings showcasing the work of the designer - not as a monologue, but as a continuous dialogue between fashion and photography. 

Over 400 moments shot by photographers But Sou Lai, Katy Reiss, James Bort, Mark Leibowitz, Juliette Da Cunha and Alex Koo; each accompanying Lanvin and its designer over a number of years, capture the intimate nature of the House, from the magic of the shows to the skill of the atelier and passion of Alber. A video projection featuring the voice of the designer, and illustrated by backstage images produced by Jean-Christophe Moine, and showing footage of the shows captured by Séraphin Ducellier, complements the exhibition.

This is an introspective exhibition - not a retrospective one - a chance to enter into the workings of the dream machine of Alber Elbaz at Lanvin. Built as an art installation it does not offer a set interpretation, but rather allows visitors to let go of their thoughts and let the heart take over. An invitation by the designer to look, listen and talk. Could this be his manifesto?

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