In the digital era, how many lives one can live? How many worlds one can one be part of? How much one can listen without getting distracted from constant notifications? How much one can say without even getting a single word out?

Since 2001 Alber Elbaz is the artistic director of one of the eldest french couture houses, founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin. And he is the one with a certain distance to technological innovations which nowadays is exceptional: no e-mail address, no connection to social networks. Rather of the old school: he documents his work through photography and films, a black felt pen and a piece of white paper are enough to capture his desires for women and fashion.

The results? An ode to femininity, to craftmanship and meticulous details. Elbaz’ designs are often contextualising the constant questioning of shapes and volumes. In Lanvin’s world there is nothing such as flat, everything is three-dimensional due to technically flawless fits.

Immortalising figures of fashion through two-dimensional photography and screens may be an obstacle, which the current exhibition “Alber Elbaz, Lanvin. Manifeste” at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris manages to overcome with success. Witnesses of many years are rebuilding moments of fashion history, by capturing details of materials and the magic of the shows which cannot be put into words.

More than 350 signed works of photographers such as But Sou Lai, Mark Leibowitz, Katy Reiss, James Bort, Juliette Da Cunha and Alex Koo interpret the passion for the garment. A video installation set to music by the voice of the creator is animated by three projections showing backstage and catwalk pictures – taken by Jean-Christophe Moine and Seraphin Ducellier.

It is an introspective exhibition – not a retrospective attempt – to plunge into the dream of Alber Elbaz for Lanvin. Similar to an art installation, the exhibition does not provide a final reading, but is leaving the visitor mitigate his mind to open all his senses. This is an utter invitation to look, to listen, to feel and to talk. And to put your phone away.

ALBER ELBAZ, LANVIN. MANIFESTE
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5/7 rue de Fourcy, 75004 Paris
Metro Saint-Paul (1) or Pont-Marie (7)
9 September until 31 October 2015,
Opening 8 September 17-20pm
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All images © But Sou Lai, Courtesy of Maison Européenne de la Photographie