UPDATE 1-Lanvin parties as Dior goes classic at fashion week

Fri Mar 2, 2012 5:28pm EST

By Alexandria Sage

PARIS, March 2 (Reuters) - Fashionistas celebrated designer Alber Elbaz's 10th anniversary as the creative force behind Lanvin on Friday night under a huge crystal chandelier at the foot of a runway after a fashion show saturated with colour, flair and glamour.

Elbaz, never without his signature bow tie, serenaded guests after the show with a rendition of "Que sera, sera," - after warning them that his talents lay more in fashion than music.

"I'm a terrible singer," Elbaz confessed, before launching into song. Pink Martini, the Portland, Oregon band later entertained guests including actress Tilda Swinton and burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese with retro hits under a canopy lit with thousands of tiny gold lights.

Elbaz pulled out the stops in his show, which began with a burst of colour. Aqua, violet, canary yellow and tangerine dresses made their way down the runway, with sculptural flounces adorning necks, backs and waists.

Elaborate faux jewels encrusted otherwise sensible suits, while coats sparkled with gold mesh.

Another burst of colour came in pattern, as Elbaz mixed purple or yellow with black in luxurious silk charmeuse dresses to the knee accessorized by brightly coloured stoles.

Founded in 1889, Lanvin returned to profitability in 2007 after decades of losses, helped by Elbaz who consistently gets effusive praise from the fashion media. Lanvin is controlled by the Taiwanese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang.

CLEANED UP

The Christian Dior look was decidedly more toned down. The acclaimed fashion house presented an elegant yet restrained version of luxury for autumn/winter on Friday, its signature silhouette of full skirts and cinched waists taking on a ballet-like flair.

Neutral tones of champagne and dusty pink, along with warmer aubergine and rich charcoal, dominated a collection which was high on femininity and classic Dior.

A dove-grey silk dress featured copious panels of lightweight fabric in the skirt that caught the air as the model walked the catwalk set up in the garden of the Rodin Museum.

"It's still very Christian Dior but cleaned up and still very elegant," designer Bill Gaytten told reporters backstage. Gaytten has been at the creative helm of the ultra-luxe fashion house since John Galliano was fired a year ago after making anti-Semitic remarks in public.

Dior, which is part of the luxury conglomerate LVMH, has yet to announce a permanent replacement, and executives are keeping mum.

"Things aren't done in a hurry," said Dior Chairman and Chief Executive Sidney Toledano backstage, declining to comment on when a replacement might be named and adding that sales were up 22 percent in 2011 and had surpassed one billion euros.

Christian Dior, situated on the stylish Avenue Montaigne in Paris, revolutionized fashion after World War Two with the "New Look," a luxurious, ultra-feminine look with tiny waists and full skirts that continues to inform the brand.

Gaytten described his ready-to-wear collection as "less graphic and more tonal." Cashmere, brushed mohair and leather in jackets imparted depth in pairings with full silk skirts, always cut below the knee and full with fabric. Houndstooth prints were deconstructed for a less severe, more feminine look, and embroidery found its way onto silk dresses, skirts and jackets.

Antique rose silk organza flowed from a floor-length evening gown whose bodice was an oversize satin bow tied like an obi sash. Necklines often incorporated dramatic twists of fabric across the shoulders with tight mock turtlenecks underneath, some in heavily encrusted sequined fabric.

Also on Friday, knitwear queen Sonia Rykiel showed tight nubby sweaters paired with form-fitting skirts, as superbly tailored culottes in oatmeal wool were paired with a modified Bolero.

Wearable jackets dominated the runway - including roomy coats in a baby aspirin orange - but stylist April Crichton also offered lightweight dresses with ruched bodices and sleeves that appeared at odds with the season.

Earlier this month, Fung Brands, an investment company backed by Hong Kong billionaires Victor and William Fung, acquired 80 percent of Sonia Rykiel, with the founding family retaining a 20 percent stake.

The Fung family is behind the Li & Fung trading house which is the parent of Hong Kong-based luxury menswear maker and distribution group Trinity.

The Sonia Rykiel brand had been one of the last French fashion luxury brands still owned by its founding family.

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