NUMÉRO LEGENDS Alber Elbaz
On April 24, 2021, the heart of designer Alber Elbaz stopped beating. The couturier passed away from coronavirus at the age of only 59 years old. This is a bitter loss for the fashion world, as Elbaz’s great talent has been recognised and widely respected.
Until his last days, he remained a citizen of the world and never attached himself to one single city. Elbaz’s geography knew no boundaries: he was born in Casablanca, grew up in Tel Aviv, began his career as a designer in New York, traveled a lot, and lived in Paris for the last few years.
As a child, Albert noticed that he had a rich imagination and was good at improvising, so he thought about becoming an actor. The boy had a craving for art since early childhood. Once he said that instead of solving math problems, he was drawing his teacher and what she wore. After serving in the Israeli army in 1982, Albert entered the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv.
At the age of 24, Albert moved to New York. It was there that his career in the fashion industry began. The first
step was the creation of evening dresses, the second – his meeting with Gucci creative director, Dawn Mello, which later turned out to be fateful. As it usually happens: where there is one useful acquaintance, there is a new circle of communication. The designer brought him together with the iconic American fashion designer Jeffrey Bean, with whom Albert worked for 7 years. The fashion guru taught the novice designer absolutely everything: from the correct selection of materials to the creation of full-fledged products.
It’s time to move on. In 1996, Albert received an invitation from the president of the fashion house Guy Laroche, Ralph Toledano, to become their creative director. In some 2 years, the young designer managed to raise the brand to a new image level and increase sales. The year 1998 was very exciting for Elbaz: he was invited to become the creative director of the pret-a-porte line of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house. For this, Albert left New York and moved to Paris. A few years later, the designer recalls “ It was one of the most important and frightening experiences in my entire career, but this was the beginning of my fashion life.” A year later, the brand was acquired by an Italian company, Gucci Group, which brought along a new creative director, Tom Ford.
That was the tipping point. Albert was lost and considered leaving the fashion industry to become a medical doctor. But something stopped him. He made a brief attempt to work for the Italian brand Krizia, but it didn’t work out. Then he went on a trip to India, where he made more than 2000 sketches.
After the break Alber was offered to become the creative director of Lanvin, and he was fully armed. This chapter of his life lasted for 14 long years. He managed to revive the House, which was on the verge of closing. The press of the time wrote: “Elbaz turned Lanvin from a dusty artifact into something influential and outstanding.” Indeed, Albert managed to find the perfect execution of the haute-couture collections, combined with the relaxation and ease of ready-made clothing, which later became the hallmark of Lanvin. From the very first collection as the creative director of the fashion house, Elbaz won great love and recognition among even the most severe critics in the fashion field.
The era of his work on the development of Lanvin was accompanied by a resounding success. In 2005, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Albert Elbaz the “Best International Designer” award. In 2007, the couturier received the French national award – the Legion of Honor and the New York Fashion Institute of Technology “FIT Couture Council Award” for his services in fashion. In 2010, Albert was included in the list of 100 most influential people in the fashion world by The Times Magazine.
Lanvin fashion House is immensely grateful for the huge contribution that Alber Elbaz has made during his reign. Representatives of the fashion house expressed their condolences: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Albert, whom I had the utmost respect for. His wealth, generosity, and love will continue to live on inside the Lanvin home”.
Creative Director of Lanvin, Bruno Cialelli
“Albert was a great fashion genius, and his involvement in the history of the Lanvin house is extremely great. He will always remain in our hearts and memories”.
Lanvin Joan Cheng, Chairwoman Lanvin
One of the best collaborations that Albert managed to embody is the Lanvin x H&M collaboration. The designer really wanted to work with a mass market brand and create something special: “It was new for me, but I’m sure it was an important project. The idea was to create outfits for people that they always wanted, but couldn’t afford before. And it’s nice to know that 95% of the clothes around the world were sold in the first 4 hours”.
In 2014, Albert released the book “Lanvin: I Love You”. It was an exclusive collection of his sketches and photographs of the windows of the flagman boutique on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. He didn’t just create a store decoration, but played out a whole story in front of bypassers, which he described in a book next to the photo. It is only with the help of his book that Elbaz confessed his love for the fashion house. The designer was offered a job at Givenchy and Dior several times, but he refused, remaining loyal to Lanvin. “In such a situation, it is much more difficult to say no than yes. I turned down a job at Dior because it’s not time yet. Lanvin needs me for now. Here I decide what to do. I’m not sure that I can feel as free in another house”.
In 2015, Elbaz’s era at Lanvin ended, which was a big disappointment for him, and he suspended his activities in the fashion industry seemingly forever. But, in 2020, he burst in with renewed force and inspiration and founded his own brand, AZ Factory: “I am happy to have found a “dream factory” that will look for solutions for modern girls.” His debut collection was presented in January of this year as a part of the Paris Fashion Week. It was a real sensation, and the brand predicted to have a bright future. Apparently, Albert’s mission was to open a new door to a new understanding of fashion, so his followers would enter.
It was too soon that the life of such a talented couturier was interrupted. A couturier, for whom love was the main driving force, while the heart that he drew by hand remained his personal logo. In our hearts, Alber Elbaz will always remain as a smiling, kind man in a fuchsia bow tie.