The maestro of his craft, Alber Elbaz wasn’t any mainstream runway fashion designer you would cross paths with. His true persona was his exquisite charm, which he carried with his signature ‘classic with a twist’ style. The pièce de resistance of the iconic designer is the legacy he left at Lanvin before he was fired. More than a decade of life-changing curation transformed Lanvin into an iconic and celebratory label.
A name on the verge of fading away in a vamoose – Lanvin, experienced skyrocketing sales after appointing Elbaz as the head designer. He later made a comeback with his venture AZ Factory, only to make it to the headlines yet again, but for the most devastating news. Elbaz lost his life to Covid on Saturday, 24 April 2021.
Here are 20 lesser-known facts about the fashion designer and legend, Alber Elbaz.
1. Elbaz was born in Morocco in 1961 and moved to Israel when he was an infant. His designing career gained traction when he moved to New York in 1985. The next roller coaster ride in his career was in 1996 when aced the role of creative director at Guy Laroche in Paris.
2. He went on to pursue fashion designing at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art in Tel Aviv in the mid-1980s. When he made up his mind to venture into the fashion industry, his mother gave him $800, so he could move to New York to realize his dreams.
3. Geoffrey Beene hired the Fashion Designer Alber Elbaz as an assistant designer and went on to coach him for nearly 7 years. The ace designer credits his success to Goeffrey Beene.
4. Yves Saint Laurent handpicked Elbaz as their head designer. Two months into the role and three critically acclaimed seasons down the radar, Tom Ford was roped in, when the Gucci Group, headed by Domenico De Sole and Tom Ford, bought Yves Saint Laurent.
5. Elbaz began his tryst with design at the age of 6. Drawing women and clothes was something that came to him naturally. He said, “My friends and classmates never shamed me for drawing women and clothes. On the contrary, they always told me, ‘One day, you’ll be a big designer in Paris.’
6. Lavin was introduced in the year 1889 and stands tall as one of the ancient French fashion houses in Paris. With his grand entry into the label as head designer in the year 2001, Elbaz went on to leave his personal impression on the brand. He rejuvenated the signature classic allure of the brand with classic cuts, lush fabrics, and elegant embellishment.
7. Elbaz started drawing nurses and police officers in charge. The reason he started out drawing nurses was because he was asthmatic as a kid, and ended up going to appointments with his mother.
8. Yes, while he so diligently worked to lift the spirits around Lanvin and the brand itself, he drained himself of confidence. His anxiety rose along with the growth of sales and revenues at Lanvin. He yearned to be lean and thin, and kept making statements about himself as a big designer or an oversize designer.
9. Fashion Designer Alber Elbaz designed clothes with the opposite appeal of what he felt. He made clothes that vividly captured joyfulness and lightweightness. He wanted to help women feel good about themselves, a luxury he couldn’t afford himself.
10. He adopted the dreamy French schoolboy as his signature look. He wore rectangular glasses, too-short trousers, cap-toed shoes with no socks and always a bow tie fashioned from silk or velvet or a length of grosgrain ribbon.
11. He was the man behind countless red carpet moments, a cheap-chic collection for H&M in 2010.
12. He was deeply superstitious and never kept his bag on the floor. He said – “I was told that if we put money on the floorm we lose money. I like to spend money, but I don’t like to lose money. So I’m trying it on the little bench just here in the back.”
13. Apart from his design detailing, he was loved for his wit and insecurities. Kindness was something that set him apart in the industry.
14. After he got fired from Lanvin, he took up small design projects, like a collaboration with Tod’s; a limited-edition makeup line with Lancôme; a range of travel bags and accessories with LeSportsac, and a fragrance with French perfumer Frédéric Malle.
15. October 2016 was a massive year for the designer as he was awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’Honneur. He was among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the year 2007.
16. Fashion Designer Alber Elbaz launched his exclusive label AZ Factory early in the year 2021 in collaboration with Swiss luxury company Richemontin.
17. Elbaz said that if he wasn't a fashion designer, he would’ve chosen to be a doctor.
18. His personal style was a hot topic of discussion in the fashion industry, as were his designs since he was barely caught without a bow.
19. He curated a bespoke Lanvin dress for Minnie Mouse to wear during the 20th-anniversary celebrations of Disneyland Paris in 2013.
20. He designed Demi Moore’s wedding dress.