Alber Elbaz, the well-loved designer best known for imbuing an ebullient spirit to France’s oldest fashion maison Lanvin, succumbed to Covid-19 on Saturday. The Moroccan-born Israeli designer was 59.
An influential figure in the fashion world throughout the early aughts until the mid-2000s, he remained largely under the radar following his exit from Lanvin in 2015, save for collaborations with Tod’s and Le Sportsac.
Alber Elbaz died on April 24 in Paris.
To the delight of fans, he launched AZ Factory earlier this year as a size-inclusive label (pieces range from XXS to XXXL) that parlayed his personal taste for elegant, joyful and beautiful clothes with an aesthetic that’s reminiscent of his time at Lanvin.
The line, backed by Swiss luxury group Richemont, revolved around Elbaz’s lifetime understanding of what real clothes should be for real woman without being prosaic, as well as his knack for always dancing to his own beat.
AZ Factory, which was launched in January 2021, was backed by Richemont.
Elbaz’s formative years in fashion started in New York in the late ’80s when he became the right hand man to couturier Geoffrey Beene up until 1996. He moved across the pond to Paris to start his stint at Guy Laroche before being personally handpicked by Yves Saint Laurent to be his heir and to design for the brand’s Rive Gauche pret-a-porter line.
Backstage at the Lanvin Spring/Summer 2015 show.
A romantic at heart and a brilliantly intuitive designer, Elbaz was known for his repudiation of fashion’s obsession with hype and the breakneck speed it runs on. In a famously quoted acceptance speech at the Fashion Group International in 2015, he shed light on his gentle approach to design.
Elbaz imbued a sense of joy into his work, seen here in Lanvin’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection.
“We designers started as couturiers with dreams, with intuitions and with feelings. We started with, ‘What do women want? What do women need? What can I do for women to make their lives better and easier? How can I make a woman more beautiful?’ That is what we used to do,” he said.
A look from the Lanvin Fall/Winter 2012 collection.
“Then we became creative directors, so we have to create, but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers, making sure it looks good in the pictures. The screen has to scream ‘baby’ – that’s the rule. And loudness is the new thing. Loudness is the new cool, and not only in fashion. I prefer whispering. I think it goes deeper and lasts longer.”
Ahead, some of Elbaz’s biggest fans pay tribute to this legendary figure.