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Lanvin, the oldest French fashion house, appoints a new designer

A major vacancy in the fashion world has been filled. On Thursday, Lanvin, the oldest active French couture house, named Peter Copping as its new artistic director, a move that signals a possible return to pure designers after a period of buzz focused on content creators.

“The arrival of Peter Copping at Lanvin is an important milestone in the rebirth of one of the great French fashion houses,” said Siddhartha Shukla, Lanvin’s deputy director, in a press release. He added that he was confident that “we will identify a new frontier in fashion and deliver beauty and results in equal measure.”

Mr Copping, 57 and British, is known for his feminine sophistication and his technical skills, and is a fashion insider’s fashion designer. He has spent the past five years working behind the scenes at Balenciaga, first as head of couture, where he was instrumental in orchestrating the acclaimed return of couture to that house, and then as head of special projects and the VIP Atelier. (The announcement of his appointment to Lanvin came the day after Balenciaga’s last couture show, which was attended by Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts, among others.) Previously, he was Oscar de la Renta’s hand-picked heir before Mr. de la’s death Renta messed up his succession plans, and the chief designer at Nina Ricci.

The new job marks a return to the spotlight for Mr Copping and Lanvin, which has been without a designer since its founding. departure by Bruno Sialelli more than a year ago and struggled to regain the relevance and success it had enjoyed under its regular designer Alber Elbaz.

It was Mr. Elbaz who had awakened what he called a “sleeping beauty” industry known more for its Arpège perfume than its fashion, and turned it into a Cinderella story. He left in 2015 after a falling out with the owner at the time, Shaw-Lan Wang, and died of Covid-19 in 2021.

Founded in 1889 by Jeanne Lanvin, Lanvin was bought in 2018 by Fosun International, the Chinese trading group that also owned St. John and Club Med. A few years later, the fashion division was renamed Lanvin Group in recognition of its flagship brand. In late 2022, Lanvin Group went public on the New York Stock Exchange, in a SPAC merger that appreciated it for $1.31 billion.

Yet interim collaborations with bold names like Future on a newly created line called Lanvin Lab have done little to create excitement around the label, and the group income were flat in 2023, with Lanvin reporting a 7 percent decline. That may have been why Mr. Shukla took a more classical tack.

It is now Mr Copping’s job to prove him right. “Jeanne Lanvin was a visionary of her time, whose interests and passions extended far beyond fashion, as do mine,” Mr. Copping said in the press release. He graduated from Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art and worked under Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton for ten years. His Instagram is full of photos of art and interiors rather than fashion or famous friends. He will start at Lanvin in September.

Meanwhile, the top jobs at Givenchy, Dries Van Noten and Chanel are still open, and the game of fashion musical chairs continues.

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