A Chat With Lanvin Artistic Director Mr. Lucas Ossendrijver For MR PORTER

Lanvin Artistic director Mr Lucas Ossendrijver will be celebrating his 10th Anniversary with the label and so to celebrate, has joined forces with men’s leading online retailer MR PORTER to create a unique capsule collection.

The 11 pieces have been crafted to honour Mr. Ossendrijvers time with the company and his massive contribution to fashion.

The exclusive collection has launched and showcases a luxurious yet relaxed range of ready-to-wear pieces.

“I cannot think of a better partner than MR PORTER to celebrate my 10th Anniversary with Lanvin Homme and launch the capsule. The pieces we developed for this collection are based on iconic items with special handcrafted treatments and finishings. For me they really represents the craftsmanship and vision that Lanvin Homme stands for,” he said.

We had a tete-a-tete with the man…

Ten years is a long time. Back in 2006, we read actual newspapers and actual maps, we rented DVDs and still listened to CDs. The Global Financial Crisis hadn’t happened. We were yet to meet Mr President, Barack Obama, or Ms Kim Kardashian. We’d not anticipated the boom of vloggers or vegans, Uber or Instagram, Netflix or Tinder. And, compared to today, the menswear industry was tiny.

In 2006, a little-known Dutch designer called Mr Lucas Ossendrijver moved from working under Mr Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme to take the newly created position of head of menswear at Paris’s oldest French fashion house, Lanvin. It’s a position he still holds – remarkable when all about him, Parisian fashion houses are losing their creative heads. There have been sweeping changes at several top brands including Dior, Saint Laurent and at Lanvin too following last year’s removal of creative director Mr Alber Elbaz, who was Mr Ossendrijver’s mentor and someone he described as a “father” figure.

“In fashion [10 years] is like three lifetimes,” says Mr Ossendrijver, 46?, in his song-song Dutch accent, speaking from his modest and surprisingly cluttered office in Paris’s 8th arrondisement. “The hardest thing in fashion is to last.”

When he started at Lanvin he was charged with creating the perfect wardrobe for men. “It wasn’t about making a very fashion-forward collection. It was about what men need. We decided to develop a new silhouette in suiting and jackets; everything became softer, with less shoulder pads and a bit more generous in cut.”

Mr Ossendrijver could arguably be credited with pioneering the luxury sneaker, as well as starting the trend for wearing sneakers with tailoring, bridging the gap between casualwear and formalwear.

“At Lanvin it’s very important that there is an ease to the things we do,” he says. “Our pieces should be easy to wear, not high concept. I make clothes that people will actually wear. For me the biggest compliment is to see someone in the street wearing something Lanvin.”

To mark his 10 years in the job, Mr Ossendrijver has created an exclusive capsule for MR PORTER. There is no over-arching theme, as such. “But I wanted all the pieces to have a feel of being hand-finished and I kind of stumbled on this spray-dying technique that we used for a few of the pieces.”

There is what looks like a classic burgundy suit. “But it’s not,” says Mr Ossendrijver. N.B. He doesn’t make classic suits, it’s always separates: “Because it’s nice to have different textures and different colours so that it’s always slightly ‘off’. It’s more rich and varied. So this is actually a separate pant and jacket in deep burgundy flannel – which is a typically Lanvin colour – and they have been sprayed by hand with a black finish. There’s a human touch to it, which I like, you can see the handwork.”

The capsule also features two shirts – one navy and one grey, both with contrast piping – that are “a cross between a bowling shirt and a pyjama shirt, but a little more chic”. There are also some recurring motifs in the collection – embroidered patches of a key and a flower – a reference to Lanvin’s AW16 collection which featured several such emblems – “all things that are touched by hand”.

Are these items that we might find in Mr Ossendrijver’s own wardrobe? “No, my wardrobe is very uniform, a lot of the same things. Designing for me is always some kind of fantasy on somebody else. I never really think about me when I design, it’s almost like I want to disappear and not think about it.”

Looking ahead, where does he see himself in 10 more years? “Gardening in a quiet spot somewhere,” he says, “preferably in a sunny place, by the sea.”

Words by Mr. Dan Rookwood.

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