Bruno Sialelli has quietly climbed the fashion ranks for the past fifteen years. Now as Creative Director of Lanvin, he shares with 5' ELEVEN'' Magazine how he found his voice and the importance of optimism.
Words by Charlie Newman.
While the Lanvin house stands proudly as one of the fashion greats, relatively little is known about the elusive founder herself, Jeanne Lanvin. A trained milliner, Lanvin founded her eponymous label in 1889 before joining the prestigious Syndicate de la Haute Couture in 1909. She was somewhat ahead of her time, fleshing out her made-to-measure clothing with broader lifestyle products including, but not limited to, sportswear, fragrance, children’s clothing and furniture. So how does current Creative Director, 33-year-old Bruno Sialelli fill these enigmatic and illustrious shoes?
For starters, Sialelli is a man who seems quietly content with himself and what he stands for, an essential stance when facing a 170-year-old brand: “to be honest with you, sometimes I think I am an old soul and I like this idea. It gives me some focus, some maturity and some peacefulness. But that does not mean I don’t feel the pressure!” Three years into his role at Lanvin, Sialelli understands the importance of patience, and allowing himself the time and room to manoeuvre, “I feel it is a bit early for me to start really understanding the ‘stamp’ I would like to leave.” While he may be lacking in ego, lacking in energy he is not. Sialelli’s restless spirit shines through his designs; bold lipsticks prints splayed across haute couture gowns; and scratch-n-sniff t-shirts paired with scissor-sharp, silk-pleated skirts.
There’s an inescapable joy and freshness to all of his creations, “I want to regenerate the joie de vivre of Lanvin... doing beautiful crafts but in a fun-yet-elegant way.” Looking at their current SS21 campaign, ’90s It-girl and heiress Paris Hilton is reimagined by Mert and Marcus. At first glance, Hilton appears as just another sophisticated model, but on closer inspection her true identity is revealed, and one can’t help but smirk at this play on high and low. This sense of identity and characterization through style is a due to Sialelli’s belief that his customers “come to Lanvin to express who they want to be; fashion is the ability to be... [to live] your dreams for a moment or for life.”
Currently, this means a return to full on glamour, “This is my leitmotif! We will be fabulous again – this is for sure. People want, need even, to be glamorous again. Dressing up to see friends, families, to go out, to go to parties, museums... anything. I can feel it! Now that spring, and soon summer, are back, it will be even more intense. We are social animals, whether we like it or not. We are born to interact with others. We need this reflection to properly exist. It helps us to also build our personalities, our characters. Fashion is an expression of that! I cannot wait to be dressed up – I already am sometimes, just for myself!”
“come to Lanvin to express who they want to be; fashion is the ability to be... [to live] your dreams for a moment or for life.”
Sialelli’s understanding of the importance of social connectivity was drummed into him from a young age as he grew up between Le Corbusier’s famed La Cité Radieuse in Marseille and Morocco. The Brutalist housing project has community at its core, offering free schooling, swimming, art and sport lessons as well as a cinema, all within the building itself, which meant that people and activities were never far away. He also sees the benefit of boredom in his youth, something we have all had to reacquaint ourselves with over the past year, “being born in the ’80s, I did not grow up with a cellphone and the Internet. I liked being bored, taking time to enjoy time. Looking at things, not doing anything really but still being fulfilled by everything that surrounded me. Especially in Morocco where the light is so special, the colours are extraordinary, the scents, the fabrics, the people... I felt connected somehow to this country.” And with each connection comes a spark of inspiration, “I do feel that I am a mix of so many things, I let my sensitivity drive me, listen to my deep instincts to ingest and digest things and create from them something that is new. It is the same with the Lanvin archives; I let them infuse me with the same process.”
This is a piece's extract. Find out the full version in the Spring Summer 2021 Issue 6.