Last week the fashion world was shocked by the news that Alber Elbaz had been dismissed as creative director of Lanvin. (See British Vogue or Bridget Foley for WWD.)
Before his positions at Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Alber Elbaz designed four seasons for Guy Laroche. (Fall 1997 to Spring 1999; see my earlier post here.) The recent news got me thinking about a Guy Laroche pattern that could also be by Elbaz.
Vogue 2368 is so rare that I didn’t see it in time for my first post. It’s a simple, formal design: a sleeveless dress with a big flower at the tucked, asymmetrical neckline:
Here’s the envelope description: Semi-fitted, straight, lined, sleeveless dress, below mid-knee or evening length, has neckline tucks, side zipper and back hemline slit. Purchased flower. Recommended fabrics are silk-like crepe, lightweight wool crepe, and satin-backed crepe.
Vogue 2368 was released in late 1999—earlier than Vogue 2497, a design from Elbaz’ Spring 1999 farewell collection for Laroche. It doesn’t match any of the runway looks from Elbaz’ four Laroche collections, but the palette, neckline detail, and especially the flower (an Elbaz signature at Laroche and Lanvin) seem persuasive. What do you think?
Guy Laroche is Vogue Patterns’ most established licensee. The first Guy Laroche pattern was released over fifty years ago and, despite a lapse in licensing after the mid-Eighties, Vogue Patterns renewed its agreement with the house in the decade following Guy Laroche’s death in 1989. The designer who prompted this renewal was Alber Elbaz: Lanvin’s current designer worked as creative director at Laroche for two years before he was recruited to Yves Saint Laurent.
To reintroduce Guy Laroche, Vogue Patterns chose three designs from the Fall/Winter 1998-99 ready-to-wear, Elbaz’s third collection for the house. (You can read about Elbaz’s first two collections for Laroche here and here.) The cover of the November/December 1998 issue of the magazine proclaims, “Introducing Guy Laroche: A Fresh Young Attitude” and, inside, the Laroche feature calls the young Elbaz “one of the brightest talents in Paris.” The company also licensed a fourth design from the Spring/Summer 1999 collection, Elbaz’ last for Guy Laroche.
1. Guy Laroche Prêt-à-porter Fall/Winter 1998-99 (shown March 1998)
The Guy Laroche Fall 1998 ready-to-wear collection showed off Elbaz’s skillful tailoring with pinstripe and monochrome looks, as well as entire outfits of red sequins and long dresses in jersey and velvet. In counterpoint to the commercially viable clothes, the models were made up to mask their eyebrows, and almost all wore Afro wigs. (See Anne-Marie Schiro’s review here.)
Vogue Patterns’ first selection from the collection, Vogue 2202, is a skirt suit with ruched, bias jacket:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ jacket & skirt. Close-fitting, bias, interfaced, lined, below hip jacket has collar, slightly extended shoulders, shoulder pads, ruching, no side seams and long, two-piece sleeves with vent and button/buttonhole trim. Straight, lined skirt, above mid-knee or mid-calf, has contour waist and back zipper. Purchased top.
The runway version of the jacket seems to have been shown with a matching turtleneck and pants:
Vogue 2206 is a sleek suit consisting of flared pants, self belt, and a tailored jacket with rounded lapels, shown made up in doubleknit jersey:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ jacket, pants & belt. Fitted, unlined, hip length jacket has front extending into collar (wrong side shows) and to side back, no side seams, shoulder pads, flaps, pockets and lined, long, two-piece sleeves with button vent. Fitted, straight-legged pants have contour waist, carriers, belt and side zipper. Purchased top.
The third selection, Vogue 2205, is another pantsuit, this one with flat-front pants and a jacket with exposed zippers:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ jacket & pants. Semi-fitted, lined, above hip jacket has neck bands, front yokes, inset bands, side panels, no side seams, side front pockets, exposed front/sleeve zippers and long, two-piece sleeves. Straight-legged pants have waistband, carriers, side pockets and back zipper. Purchased top and belt.
This design made the cover of the December counter catalogue:
Elbaz sent out variations on the Vogue 2205 jacket—in both jacket and coat lengths, in charcoal, a mauve-tinged grey, two shades of red, and black leather. Runway images show the jackets worn with matching skirts and tops:
L’Officiel included the black leather version in an “Emma Peel” fall trend feature—the Ralph Fiennes/Uma Thurman film The Avengers had opened late that summer:
2. Guy Laroche Prêt-à-porter Spring/Summer 1999 (shown October 1998)
Vogue Patterns’ selection from this collection, Vogue 2497, is a modern evening suit with tailored jacket, long skirt, and side-buttoned camisole top:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ jacket, top & skirt. Fitted, partially interfaced, lined, above-hip jacket has collar, cut-in shoulders, shoulder pads, side panels, no side seams, flaps, welt pockets and three-piece, below-elbow sleeves. Close-fitting, lined top has bias shoulder straps, princess seams, side slits and button/loop closings. Slightly flared, below-waist skirt, floor-length, has right side mock pleat and side zipper.
The spring collection had a number of variations on the Vogue 2497 evening suit, some with flowers at the lapel, some with colour blocking, whether a single sleeve, a narrow contrast panel, or a broad hem band. The ensembles were shown with the jacket worn alone or open over a white t-shirt. The skirt’s mock pleat is visible in this Corbis image:
Update: Just for fun, here are two Spring ’98 looks that Steven Klein photographed for an Elbaz feature in Vogue Paris:
These Alber Elbaz/Laroche patterns have some interesting, unusual design features, such as Vogue 2202’s bias jacket or the three-piece sleeves on Vogue 2497. But I find that, despite promoting the freshness of Elbaz’s work at the house, Vogue Patterns opted for changes that diminish the designs’ freshness and modernity. Why not show a matching, tomato-red skirt with the Vogue 2205 jacket, or pants with the feminine, ruched Vogue 2202 jacket? Or a t-shirt with Vogue 2497’s evening suit? It feels to me like underestimating home sewers’ appetite for fashion.