He is at the helm of menswear design at Lanvin, but working alongside Alber Elbaz doesn't scare Lucas Ossendrijver. On the contrary, they seem to have an outstandingly productive working relationship, where Alber’s creative imagination about womenswear is met by Lucas’ ability to mix and match menswear into a patchwork of high and low, formal and casual, without losing the quintessential elegance of the House of Lanvin. This season, S/S11, is a little more fitted and more aerodynamic than the previous ones. Lucas sheds some light on the concept behind it and also gives us a glimpse into the forthcoming capsule collection for H & M.
This season the models seem to come from another world, which is a bit darker, a bit rougher, but also a bit more sophisticated than our present one. What’s the main inspiration behind that vision?
It was actually a very fast show this season. You had the impression the boys were just passing by almost. It was about movement, aerodynamics and speed. Also more body conscious, fitted; the sweaters were almost like a second skin. We were showing the body instead of covering it. It was quite natural to me to mix cycling shorts with tailoring and knitwear.
Does it have a strong feminine element to it, especially through the many accessories and jewellery?
We love to mix up. We like to twist things. This season we tried to make tailoring almost fitted wear, so you have this hybrid thing. Even the knit and the sportswear become really chic and elegant. We don’t make sportswear but we transform it into something elegant. And accessories, yes, the jewellery is quite tough this season. We were asking ourselves: Is it too feminine, is it ok? But in the end we said, if women can wear pants, men can wear jewellery.
All the history that comes with the house of Lanvin is very much focused on the womenswear, isn’t it?
Jeanne Lanvin actually introduced menswear in the 1920s. It was very classic and all bespoke. But now men are ready to experiment a little bit more. I see men coming to our shop and they know exactly which pieces they want. There is a lot of attention on menswear but it does not change very quickly. It is a slow process and there is still a lot do be done.
Sounds like very good times for the Lanvin man! How close do you and Alber Elbaz actually work together?
Lanvin has an amazing archive for womenswear, but for men there is hardly anything. So I had to build that from scratch, which gave me a lot of freedom. And I also could work with Alber in a very a natural process, in an exchange. I am very fortunate to have somebody like him. We don’t really do official meetings, but I like to go to his studio to see what’s going on, to feel the atmosphere there. And we talk; we talk a lot. It’s a very special relationship.
And then there is H & M…
Yes, I am actually really happy that H & M approached us for this collaboration. By doing this we can bring our classic pieces to a larger audience, without losing quality actually. But it is also about being generous. And it is very Lanvin what you are going to see.
Text by George Ghon
George Ghon is a London based journalist writing about fashion and art.