In addition to being one hell of a designer, Alber Elbaz is also a philosopher. His pre-collection shows are among the most anticipated of the season because few speak as evocatively about the fashion business and its discontents as he does. This time around, Elbaz abandoned the microphone and a mini runway show format in favor of tableaux vivants. And boy, was it vivant. Observing that Instagram has infiltrated all parts of the industry—”pics or it didn’t happen” is the popular refrain; “provocation is the way to exist” is how Elbaz framed it—he hired the French artist Cyril Hatt to create an installation that will in turn infiltrate Instagram. Our feeds, at least, were clogged with images from today’s event, which featured living and breathing models posing against backdrops of Hatt’s fake paper car, fake giraffe, fake trees, and, yes, fake toilet. All of the fakes were variously crushed or crumpled, the point being, Elbaz explained, that what’s real is better than what’s faked—for Instagram and otherwise.
Thus we had real clothes à la Alber: loaded with color, bursting with print, accessorized with jewelry large and bags small, and just plain bubbling over with joie de vivre. In the mix: floral-print maxi dresses scribbled with the Lanvin logo and a minidress with engineered stripes, and in between, day and evening ensembles that tapped into the vibrant palette associated with Yves Saint Laurent. Elbaz also had a number of outfits in black and white, but thanks to embellishments like fringe and ruffles and tassels, they weren’t sober by any measure. An ivory column dress with a flounce at the neck and shoulders and a couple of oversize necklaces looked to us like a philosophy to live by.