Alber Elbaz: A Fashion Icon's Journey
Alber Elbaz (June 12, 1961 – April 24, 2021) was an Israeli fashion designer who resided and worked in Paris.
Elbaz was born in the city of Casablanca, Morocco. When he was just 8 months old, he immigrated to Israel along with his parents and four siblings, settling in Holon, a neighborhood in Givatayim. Between 1982 and 1986, following his mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), he studied at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design (now Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art) in Ramat Gan. It was during this period that he honed his skills and passion for fashion. In 1993, he entered into a long-term relationship with Alex Koo, the marketing director for Lanvin.
Alber Elbaz tragically succumbed to COVID-19 on April 24, 2021, at the age of 59, just three weeks after contracting the South African variant of the virus. He was laid to rest in Holon Cemetery.
In 1987, Elbaz relocated to New York City. He began his career with a brief stint designing bridal gowns before spending seven years working under the renowned American fashion designer Geoffrey Beene. Elbaz often credited this period as instrumental in building his experience and knowledge. He was influenced by Beene's philosophy of resisting fashion trends and had a keen eye for selecting fabrics and designing garments.
In June 1996, Elbaz was appointed as the designer at the famed French fashion house Guy Laroche. Still relatively unknown in the fashion world, he caught the attention of the fashion house's CEO, Ralph Toledano, with his women's fashion designs. Elbaz successfully revitalized and modernized Laroche's female fashion line during his tenure.
In 1998, he moved to Yves Saint Laurent, where he designed women's ready-to-wear clothing. His talent shone in this role, and he was even slated to become the brand's head designer after Yves Saint Laurent retired. However, this plan was thwarted when Gucci acquired the Yves Saint Laurent brand, leading to Elbaz's dismissal after only three seasons.
Elbaz briefly worked for the Italian fashion house Krizia before being appointed artistic director of Lanvin in Paris in October 2001. Lanvin, established in 1909, is one of the most prestigious and enduring luxury fashion houses. It was acquired by a group of investors who recognized Elbaz's potential and immediately offered him the position.
Elbaz's designs, featuring feminine and easy-to-wear garments, captured the hearts of leading Western fashion publications. Influential fashion editor Suzy Menkes wrote, "Alber Elbaz is every woman's darling. That means Nicole (Kidman), Kate (Moss), Chloe Sevigny, Sofia Coppola and many other rising stars," in the International Herald Tribune. Meanwhile, The Independent's fashion editor crowned Lanvin's Spring-Summer 2008 collection, designed by Elbaz, with the headline, "Alber Elbaz's Lanvin - Simply Divine."
In late October 2015, Lanvin announced Elbaz's immediate departure, citing a disagreement with the majority shareholder of the company, Shaw-Lan Wang.
In early 2021, he launched his independent brand, "AZ Factory," after a lengthy hiatus. In an interview with The New York Times, he explained that his collections were built around stories: "There won't be spring-summer and fall-winter collections, eveningwear and daytime clothes, this market and that market, but a series of well-integrated collections, like Lego bricks, that are built precisely one on top of the other but can be released and separated with the same ease."
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