Hazine

29.05.2016 - Anna von Stackelberg

Designer

ALBER ELBAZ

FEATURED IN THE PRESS MOST RECENTLY FOR THE SUDDEN END OF HIS 14 YEAR TENURE AS THE CREATIVE HEAD OF LANVIN, ALBER ELBAZ FALLS INTO THE FOLD OF THAT FINE BREED OF PEOPLE WHO MERGE CREATIVITY, SENSITIVITY AND A PENCHANT FOR THE DRAMATIC IN A WAY THAT RESULTS IN TRULY EXTRAORDINARY IDEAS AND CRAFTSMANSHIP.

COLOURFUL START

Often recounting how his father’s work as a hair colourist and his mother’s profession as a painter introduced him to the world of colour, Alber Elbaz developed a keen visual sense from an early age. Cherishing the possibility of dreaming and creating fantasies that reached beyond his childhood home, Elbaz would spend hours sketching dresses in his bedroom. In this manner, as a seven-year-old boy he spent a year making daily sketches of his schoolteacher’s wardrobe, presenting her with a complete collection of sketched outfits when the year was done.

CASABLANCA TO ISRAEL TO NEW YORK

Having been born in Casablanca in 1961, Alber Elbaz resettled to Israel together with his family at the age of ten. Despite loosing his father five years later and his mother having to work long hours as a cashier to support the family, she fully backed his decision to go into fashion following his mandatory training in the Israeli Defence Force. With his mother’s encouragement, $800 in cash, a degree from Shenkar College of Textile Technology and Fashion and “a big suitcase full of dreams” Elbaz set off to New York City in 1985, to try and make it in the world of fashion.

KITSCH TO COUTURE

Far from landing in the middle of high fashion however, Elbaz’ first stop in New York took him into the Garment District, where he found work making “horrible mother-of-the-bride dresses” as he says. If anything, the long hours there and the lack of aesthetic satisfaction hardened his resolution to make his own mark in the industry whilst also pushing him to meet Geoffrey Beene, the one person he wanted to work for in New York. After a three-year campaign to meet him and through the help of Gucci’s executive director, Elbaz was finally introduced to and hired by Beene, spending the subsequent seven years honing his skills and building his foundation in design at his studio.

INTO THE LIMELIGHT

By 1996 Elbaz had grown into himself as a fashion designer and turned his gaze towards Paris and new challenges. He had learned from Beene to reject trends and had mastered draping techniques, developing a contemporary aesthetic of his own. Recruited by Guy Laroche as new creative director, Elbaz completed four widely applauded seasons for the label, catapulting him into the middle of the fashion world as a rising star to watch. Offers came flooding in, the most notable of which was a proposal by Yves Saint Laurent to take over the helm of his fashion house following his own departure. But Elbaz’ time as creative-head-in-waiting at YSL was brief. After only three collections for Yves Saint Laurent, the fashion house was bought by the Gucci Group who subsequently installed Tom Ford as the new director and fired Elbaz. With this coup, Elbaz found himself free and without a job. Instead of compromising himself however, he decided to spend a year and a half to reflect about his life and career. The big question was, “Do I want to stay in fashion, or study to be a doctor?” he recalls. To find his answer, Elbaz embarked on extended travels in Israel, India and South America, much of it by public bus. After months of staying in small hotels and guesthouses, he realised that being a designer was, indeed, his calling. LANVIN Upon his return to Paris in 2001 Elbaz was approached by the Chinese publishing magnate Shaw-Lan Wang, who had recently bought a controlling share of the ailing French fashion house Lanvin. With the request to “please wake the sleeping beauty”, Elbaz found the challenge of rejuvenating the label’s aesthetic and the parity of the founder Jeanne Lanvin’s vision for creating timeless fashion a welcome new perspective. Taking on the job, Elbaz set upon an intense and extremely successful journey as artistic director. He won Council of Fashion Designers of America International Award in 2005 and two years later the Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in Paris. In 2007, he was ranked among the hundred most influential people in the world by Time magazine. His time at Lanvin catapulted the label back into the top tiers of fashion and marked Elbaz as a visionary who created a clear visual language.

ONTO NEW SHORES

But as all things come to an end, the successful 14-year marriage between Elbaz and Lanvin came to an abrupt halt in October 2015, when the label announced a sudden split with the designer due to disputes with Wand about the companies’ direction. Coming as a huge shock to the industry, Elbaz’ departure sent ripples through the world of fashion. Finding himself free yet again, Elbaz has returned to his approach of introspection and travel taking his time to figure out his next move. But while nothing is certain at the moment, one thing is for sure: we have not yet heard the last of Mr. Elbaz and with rumours circulating that he might open his own label, there is certainly a lot to look forward to.

Short Facts

Trademark

Alber Elbaz’ black-rimmed spectacles along with his bow tie, that he wears in all shades, set of an otherwise monochrome works suit.

Distinctiveness

Elbaz has become known for a sense of imperfect beauty, basing his collection both on an appreciation of humanity as well as the idea of a story unfolding throughout a collection.

Anecdote

“I remember a customer once said to me, ‘Alber, whenever I wear one of your dresses, men fall in love with me.’ And I said, ‘Next time you wear one of your Lanvin dresses, I want you to fall in love with a man.’ She said, ‘What's the difference?’ So I said, ‘Active and passive.’ I love the idea of love. In fact that is the DNA of the house, which was, after all, founded on the love of a mother for her daughter. So I started to work on this concept.”

Last Resort 2016 collection from Alber Elbaz at Lanvin

Timeline

1961 – Birth

Alber Elbaz was born in Casablanca, Morocco as one of four children to a hair colourist father and painter mother in 1961.

1971 – Israel

Elbaz relocated from Morocco to Israel with his family, making the coastal town of Holon his new home.

1976 – Death of His Father

Elbaz looses his father at the age of 15.

1985 – NYC

Elbaz moves to New York after completing his degree in Fashion at the Shenkar College of Textile Technology and Fashion in Ramat Gan, Israel.

1987 – Goeffrey Beene

Elbaz starts a seven-year tenure as Beene’s chief assistant.

1996 – Paris

Elbaz is recruited as the new head of Guy Laroche – producing four tremendously successful collections that made him a rising fashion star in Paris.

1999 – YSL

After being hired by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berger as a future replacement for Saint Laurent, Elbaz is fired after only three collections, following the appointment of Tom Ford after the Gucci group’s purchase of the label.

2001 – Lanvin

After having taken a sabbatical year from fashion following his traumatic departure from YSL, Elbaz returns to Paris and is offered the position of Creative Director at Lanvin.

2005 – First Award

Elbaz won Council of Fashion Designers of America International Award in 2005.

2007 – Second Award

Two years later he won the Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in Paris and is named as one of fashion’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine.

2010 - H&M

In November 2010, Elbaz designed one of the most covetable high street collaborations in fashion history - the H&M for Lanvin line.

2015 – Split

In October 2015 Lanvin surprises the world of fashion with a sudden and immediate dismissal of Elbaz. His final show was left unfinished with the in-house team finalising the collection to mixed reviews.

Photo:

© Lanvin

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