An Alber Elbaz Retrospective

vor 4 years

Fashion designer Alber Elbaz recently announced his return to fashion after 5 years of retirement. This new label (co-created with the Richemont Groupe), goes by the name of AZ Factory and will set Elbaz back into the center of attention, beginning of 2021.

His return comes with high expectations, as fans world-wild have been waiting for this moment since his -quite unfair- eviction from Lanvin in 2015.
We decided to jump on this opportunity to reflect on the background and style of the iconic designer.
The Israeli-moroccan designer is known for his understanding of women, and is particularly renown for his skills in womenswear making. Suzy Menkes once declared: “Elbaz is every woman’s darling”. Before becoming the fashion genius that we all know- wearing a signature bow-tie and thick rimmed glasses- the young Albert was introduced to fashion in New York, by assisting stylist of the stars, Geoffrey Beene.
Quickly discovered by Ralph Toledano, president of the syndical chamber of haute couture, Elbaz was ask to take over artistic direction of Guy Laroche. The iconique French house in need of a renewal found the perfect match in Alber Elbaz, who only needed one year to gain great success.
Shortly afterward, he become the artistic director of the ready to wear collection at Saint Laurent before being replaced by Tom Ford in a strategic operation of the Gucci Groupe. Finally in 2001, Shaw-Lan Wang appointed him at the direction of creation after buying one of the oldest Parisan Houses: Lanvin. All the inspirations and creativity of the designer are crystallised in the DNA of the brand Lanvin, instantly becoming the talk of the town.

His personal style and aesthetic truly come through at Lanvin. Dramatic drapings reinterpreted from the archives of Jeanne Lanvin, romantic ruffles, and over the top prints and shiny materials. Alber Elbaz found his strength in making accessible couture pieces, far from the normcore approach of the time, at times finding inspiration in the ugly and cheap, turning it into trendy and desirable. Minimalistic fashion people must be warned!
Awarded countless times for his work, he shortly become a fan favorite, but his brilliant years at Lanvin sadly found their end in 2015 when the president of the brand, Taiwanese business women Shaw-Lan Wang, evicted him for his “poor quality designs” after an altercation with the designer. The whole fashion industry was shocked by this decision, marking the end of a 15 year long success story, from the employees of the Parisian Maison to the French minister of culture Jack Lang, asserting that “to cut the wings of this exceptional talent in this way makes me very sad and angry. He is one of our national treasures”.
In 2016 Bouchra Jarrar succeeded him at Lanvin, and Elbaz continued spreading his talent via countless collaboration with H&M, to an exclusive bottle of luxury parfum through Frederic Malle.

Our editorial team decided to dig deeper into Elbaz’s universe. We each selected our top fashion moments from the genius designer.

Left: Lanvin, Spring 2008
This collection was full of extravagant dresses in bold colors, looking so elegant that it is surprising they are made out of (gasp) polyester. I’m usually not a fan of this material. It is rather cheap. But these models look like glamorous goddesses!

Right: Lanvin, Fall 2005
It is Elbaz’ talent to make everything look chic – here he transformed a bathrobe-like coat into an elegant evening outfit.
– Hannah Sulzbach, Fashion Intern

Left: Guy Laroche in French Vogue, 1998
Amy Wesson wore this beautiful soft pink silk tulle dress for Vogue Paris’ February 1998 issue. I think the beaded flowers and the red thread add a great little extra to this dress.

Right: Lanvin, Fall 2015 Menswear
Masculinity is something that has always inspired me. I think that Alber enjoyed playing around with several shades of blue.
– Barbara Anthofer, Fashion Intern

Left: Lanvin, Spring Summer 2013 campaign
This to me is somehow the perfect translation of how he sees woman in his head, and with confidence and feelings he wants to transmit onto them, making these women strong and independent, standing out for themselves, combined with being a classical, elegant woman.

Right: Lanvin, Spring Summer 2013 Photographed by Mikael Jansson for W magazine
This picture is in a way inspiring that it is the visualization of his reputation being a man, loving and supporting woman. As well, it shows him as a “part” of the female crowd, laying amongst and surrounded by woman, revealing his feminine side.
– Carolin Désirée Becker, Fashion Intern

Left: Federic Malle, SUPERSTITIOUS

The illustrious fashion designer Alber Elbaz met his match in the perfume world. A classic floral aldehydic architecture illustrates Elbaz’s free-flowing vision of an elaborate fabric in which everyone can find their own beauty: Turkish roses and Egyptian jasmines, enhanced by a touch of peach, rest on a bed of amber imbued with Indonesian patchouli and Haitian vetiver . A final touch of aldehydes sharpens the perfume’s opulence with an urban edge. Perfection worn atop (and underneath) a Lanvin draped dress.
– Janna Shaw, Online Editor

Left: Lanvin, Spring Summer 2012 campaign
Quintessential Elbaz, the draping on this modern cocktail dress is a real showstopper, bringing ready-to wear into the universe of couture.

Right: Lanvin, Fall Winter 2012
The ruffles are also an Elbaz statement. The interpretation of this technique is very current and edgy. Black is intemporal and I could totally imagine this skirt going down a runway in 2021. Leather gloves are a must to balance this romantic silhouette.
– Marien Brandon, Fashion Intern

Text by Marien Brandon
Images courtesy of Lanvin, Guy Laroche and Frederic Malle

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