Alber Elbaz

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Alber Elbaz
Born
Albert Elbaz

12 June 1961
Casablanca, Morocco
Died24 April 2021(2021-04-24) (aged 59)
NationalityIsraeli
Alma materShenkar College of Engineering and Design
OccupationFashion designer
Years active1970–2021
Label(s)
Lanvin
(2001–2015)
AZ Factory
(2019–2021)
Partner(s)Alex Koo
AwardsInternational Award, Council of Fashion Designers of America (2005)

Alber Elbaz (Hebrew: אלבר אלבז; 12 June 1961 – 24 April 2021) was an Israeli fashion designer. He was the creative director of Lanvin in Paris from 2001 until 2015,[1][2][3][4] after having done stints at a number of other fashion houses, including Geoffrey Beene, Guy Laroche, and Yves Saint Laurent.[5] He founded the Richemont-backed label AZ Factory in 2019.

Early life and education[edit]

Elbaz was born in Casablanca, Morocco, to a Jewish family.[6] Elbaz's mother, Algeria, was a painter and his father, Meyer, a hairdresser.[7] His family immigrated to Israel when Elbaz was eight months old[8] and he grew up in the city of Holon.[9] Elbaz’s father died when Albert was a teenager and his mother became a cashier to support her four children—Albert, his brother and his two sisters.[7][10] Elbaz later enlisted and served as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, and subsequently studied at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, Israel.[11]

His mother encouraged Elbaz’s early interest in fashion, as he had begun drawing dresses at seven years old, and gave him $800 when he left home for New York City in 1985 to pursue fashion professionally.[7]

Fashion career[edit]

Arriving in New York, Elbaz first worked for a bridal firm,[12] then trained over the course of seven years as a senior assistant to Geoffrey Beene.[13] In New York, Elbaz dropped the last letter of his first name, becoming Alber so that his name would be pronounced correctly in English as well as because he felt it made a better name for a fashion brand.[10]

From 1996 until 1998, Elbaz worked for the French house of Guy Laroche as head of prêt-à-porter,[13] moving to Paris in 1997 and drawing favorable notice in the fashion press.[10][8] Appointed by Pierre Bergé, Elbaz next worked as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent beginning in 1998; he was brought on with the expectation of replacing Saint Laurent when the designer retired.[8] Instead, after three seasons, Gucci bought the company and fired Elbaz in January 2000, making Tom Ford head designer instead for what proved an unsuccessful run (Ford retired from women’s fashion in 2004).[13][14][8]

Elbaz began designing for Lanvin in 2001. He also held a minority stake in the company of nearly 18 percent.[15] During his 14-year tenure, he was credited with the house’s renewed appeal thanks to Elbaz’s “classic with a twist”[7] takes on silk cocktail dresses and other feminine designs, often playing with color or other unusual variations on hallmark elegance.[16] Looking back on his career, Women's Wear Daily wrote, “His elegant, feminine designs and pulse-pounding runway shows, which had a carnival spirit, catapulted Lanvin to become a top Paris fashion house.”[12] He spurred a trend for luxury brand jewelry when he launched strands of fabric-covered pearls.[17] His light-hearted sketches, depicting anything from lollipops to Elbaz’s own face became a signature on the brand’s visual style.[17] Elbaz's simple, feminine clothing, which has been compared to Lanvin's 1920s designs, was lauded by the fashion press. In 2005 Suzy Menkes wrote: "Elbaz is every woman's darling. And that includes Nicole, Kate, Chloë Sevigny, Sofia Coppola and a slew of rising movie names."[18] Lanvin's business growth followed, with revenue increasing 60% in two years, from 2005 to 2007.[7]

While at Lanvin, Elbaz also collaborated with Acne Studios on a denim collection, called the Blue Collection, at the end of 2008.[19] In 2010, he led Lanvin’s work on an H&M line, including tulle dresses and bejeweled necklaces.[20] Notably, for his fall collection in 2012, the house’s 10th anniversary, Elbaz chose ordinary people to feature in Lanvin’s promotional campaign, including an 18-year-old musician and an 82-year-old retiree.[20]

In October 2015, Elbaz announced that he had been let go from Lanvin[21] after disagreements with the company's major shareholder, Shaw-Lan Wang.[15] Elbaz also complained about the lack of strategy and targeted investment of the company.[22] Shortly before he was fired, Elbaz had hired Chemena Kamali from Chloé as women’s design director.[14] Lanvin sales subsequently declined and China’s Fosun eventually purchased the line.[16]

After leaving Lanvin, Elbaz designed all of the costumes Natalie Portman wore in the 2016 film A Tale of Love and Darkness which she also wrote and directed.[23] Thereafter he worked with various fashion brands, including Converse and LeSportsac.[24] In 2016, he launched a perfume called Superstitious, working with perfumer Dominique Ropion for the French perfume house Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle.[25] He collaborated in 2019 with Italian shoemaker Tod's, creating bags and loafers.[16]

Also in 2019, he joined forces with Richemont to develop his own line, AZfashion, a brand intended to focus on "developing solutions for women of our times."[16][26] AZ Factory launched in 2021.[27] It is Richemont's first involvement in a newly emerging brand[28] and focuses on creating streamlined foundational basics and technical knits, which the designer termed "switchwear."[29]

Art and graphics[edit]

Dress of the Year 2005

In 2006, Elbaz introduced new packaging for Lanvin, featuring a light forget-me-not blue color, a favorite shade which Lanvin purportedly had seen in a Fra Angelico fresco. Packaging included shopping bags imprinted with Paul Iribe's 1907 illustration of Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite, and shoe boxes designed like antique library files, tied with black ribbons to emphasize the precious nature of the product.[30]

Elbaz illustrated the song "Lady Jane" in singer-songwriter Mika's extended play Songs for Sorrow.[31]

In 2012, Rizzoli published a book of 3,000 photographs documenting Elbaz's work for Lanvin.[32]

In 2015, Elbaz curated “Alber Elbaz/Lanvin: Manifeste,” a photography exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. The show exhibited more than 350 photographs taken during his time at Lanvin as well as sketches and design mock-ups.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Elbaz's life partner since circa 1993 was Alex Koo, Lanvin's director of merchandising.[8][14]

Elbaz often spoke of being overweight and how it influenced his designs. In 2009 he told journalist Ariel Levy,

I do things without décolleté; nothing is transparent ... I am overweight, so I am very, very aware of what to show and what not to show, and I am sure there is a huge link with being an overweight designer and the work I do. My fantasy is to be skinny, you see? I bring that fantasy into the lightness – I take off the corset and bring comfort and all these things I don't have. What I bring is everything that I don't have. This is the fantasy.[7]

Despite international acclaim Elbaz avoided stepping into celebrity circles himself, often likening his work to a "concierge's in a good hotel in Manhattan" who spent his days working with famous and wealthy clients, but went home at night to the outer boroughs, and said this distance from "the fantasy" of fashion helped him maintain its power in his work.[7] Joel Arthur Rosenthal, the Brooklyn-born designer of the ultra luxury jewelry line JAR, was Elbaz’s closest friend.[8]

Elbaz died of COVID-19 on 24 April 2021 at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine in suburban Paris, France.[34] He was 59.[35][36]

Awards[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alber Elbaz". Prestige. 4 March 2015. Archived from the original on 21 April 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  2. ^ "The Tatler List". Tatler. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Couture for Everyday" Archived 8 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine. LUX. September 2013.
  4. ^ "Alber Elbaz Pushed Out at Lanvin". WWD. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  5. ^ "Alber Elbaz is part of the BoF 500". The Business of Fashion. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  6. ^ Bowles, Hamish. "Remembering Alber Elbaz, Visionary Designer, Generous Spirit, and Friend to All". Vogue. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Levy, Ariel (17 May 2009). "I wish I knew how to enjoy it more". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Levy, Ariel. "Ladies' Man". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Vogue's Alber Elbaz Biography". Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d Peltier, Ellan (25 April 2021). "Alber Elbaz, Fashion Designer, Dies of Covid at 59". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Alber Elbaz". Wear base. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  12. ^ a b Socha, Miles (25 April 2021). "Alber Elbaz Dies at 59". WWD. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Menkes, Suzy (9 June 1998). "Alber Elbaz Gets Aboard at YSL : A New Generation In Ready-to-Wear". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Friedman, Vanessa (17 December 2015). "Lanvin and Alber Elbaz: The Story of a Breakup". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  15. ^ a b Wendlandt, Astrid (28 October 2015). "Elbaz leaves fashion label Lanvin, Wang rejected offers". Reuters. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  16. ^ a b c d White, Sarah (25 October 2019). "Richemont teams up with designer Alber Elbaz for fashion venture]". Reuters. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 26 October 2019.
  17. ^ a b Binkley, Christina; Schechner, Sam (28 October 2015). "Longtime Creative Director Alber Elbaz Is Leaving Lanvin". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  18. ^ "At Lanvin, a master of improvisation", Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune, 24 May 2005
  19. ^ Barnett, Leisa. "An Outbreak Of Acne". British Vogue. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  20. ^ a b Wilkinson, Isabel; Moss, Hilary (28 October 2015). "Ten Things to Know About Alber Elbaz's Lanvin". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  21. ^ CONLON, SCARLETT. "Confirmed: Alber Elbaz Departing Lanvin". Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  22. ^ "Confirmed: Alber Elbaz Departing Lanvin". www.vogue.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  23. ^ Minow, Nell. "Interview: Natalie Portman on "A Tale of Love and Darkness"". Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  24. ^ Vanessa Friedman (9 July 2019), Alber Elbaz Makes a Happy Return Archived 26 October 2019 at the Wayback Machine The New York Times.
  25. ^ a b Astrid Wendlandt (3 October 2016), Ex-Lanvin designer Elbaz turned nose for Frederic Malle Archived 26 October 2019 at the Wayback Machine Reuters.
  26. ^ Vanessa Friedman (25 October 2019), Alber Elbaz Is Back in Fashion Archived 26 October 2019 at the Wayback Machine The New York Times.
  27. ^ Allaire, Christian. "Alber Elbaz's New Brand, AZ Factory, Is Here". Vogue. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Inside Alber Elbaz and Richemont's AZ Factory". Vogue Business. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  29. ^ Friedman, Vanessa (26 January 2021). "Alber Elbaz Has a New Answer for What Women Want". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 28 January 2021. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  30. ^ Rawsthorn, Alice (27 August 2006). "When the packaging makes it perfect". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  31. ^ "Mika and Lanvin book launch". www.vogue.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  32. ^ Menkes, Suzy (9 January 2012). "The Inside Story of a Couture Dream in the Making". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 30 January 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  33. ^ Dana Thomas (8 September 2015), In a New Show, Lanvin’s Process Comes Into Focus Archived 26 October 2019 at the Wayback Machine T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
  34. ^ "Fashion designer Alber Elbaz dies in Paris of Covid-19". France 24. 25 April 2021. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  35. ^ "Alber Elbaz: Fashion designer dies in Paris aged 59". BBC News. 25 April 2021. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  36. ^ Steinberg, Jessica. "Alber Elbaz, top Israeli fashion icon and ex-Lanvin director, dies of COVID". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  37. ^ "Celebrating Alber Elbaz". The New York Times. 4 October 2016. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 25 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  38. ^ The Time 100 Archived 28 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Natalie Portman 3 May 2007
  39. ^ "Honorary Doctors". RCA. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  40. ^ Joelle Diderich (28 March 2016), Alber Elbaz Named Officer in Legion of Honor Archived 26 October 2019 at the Wayback Machine Women's Wear Daily.

External links[edit]