Alber Elbaz: A Fashion Luminary

Alber Elbaz (Hebrew: אלבר אלבז), born on June 12, 1961, and tragically passing away on April 24, 2021, was an Israeli fashion designer who resided and worked in Paris.


Elbaz was born in the city of Casablanca, Morocco. At the tender age of eight months, he immigrated to Israel alongside his parents and four siblings. The Elbaz family settled in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, specifically in the Jessie Cohen neighborhood. Between 1982 and 1986, after completing his compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Elbaz pursued studies at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan. During his time at Shenkar, he cultivated his skills and passion for fashion. Alber Elbaz entered a lifelong partnership with Alex Koo, who served as the marketing director for the Lanvin fashion house, starting in 1993.

Tragically, Alber Elbaz succumbed to COVID-19 on April 24, 2021, at the age of 59. He contracted the South African variant of the virus just three weeks prior to his passing and was laid to rest in the Holon Cemetery.

Professional Career

In 1987, Elbaz made a significant move to New York City. His early career included a stint designing wedding gowns for a bridalwear manufacturer. Subsequently, he spent seven years working under the tutelage of the renowned American fashion designer Geoffrey Beene. Elbaz attributed his accumulation of experience and extensive knowledge to this period of his career. He was profoundly influenced by Beene's philosophy, which encouraged innovation in fashion and an impeccable sense of fabric selection and design.

In June 1996, Alber Elbaz assumed the position of artistic director at the esteemed French fashion house, Guy Laroche. Still relatively unknown in the world of fashion, Elbaz quickly caught the eye of Ralph Toledano, the CEO of Guy Laroche, with his sketches of women's fashion. His designs revitalized and modernized Guy Laroche's collections.

In 1998, Elbaz moved on to work for the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, where he designed ready-to-wear women's clothing. His exceptional talent and creativity were evident in this role. However, his plans to become the house's head designer were thwarted when Gucci acquired the Yves Saint Laurent brand. Elbaz departed from his position after just three seasons.

Following his brief tenure at Yves Saint Laurent, Elbaz briefly worked for the Italian fashion house Krizia. In October 2001, he was appointed artistic director at Lanvin, one of the oldest and most prestigious fashion houses in France, founded in 1909. The company was acquired in 2001 by a group of investors who envisioned Elbaz as the creative leader.

Elbaz's designs for women's clothing, known for their wearability and comfort, garnered attention from leading Western fashion publications. Suzy Menkes, a highly influential fashion editor at the International Herald Tribune, described Elbaz as "every woman's darling," citing celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Kate Moss, Chloë Sevigny, and Sofia Coppola among his fans. The fashion editor of The Independent even proclaimed the Lanvin Spring-Summer 2008 collection with the headline, "Alber Elbaz's Lanvin - simply divine."

In late October 2015, Alber Elbaz announced his immediate departure from Lanvin, citing disagreements with the majority shareholder of the company, Shaw-Lan Wang.

In early 2021, after a significant hiatus, he launched his independent brand, "AZ Factory." In an interview with The New York Times, he explained that his collections were narrative-driven: "There won't be spring-summer and fall-winter collections, daywear and evening wear, this market and that market, but a series of well-integrated collections, like Lego bricks, that are built on top of each other but can also stand alone and be separated just as easily."

Alber Elbaz's contribution to the fashion world was monumental, and his legacy continues to inspire and shape the industry. His remarkable journey from Israel to the pinnacle of Parisian fashion remains a testament to his talent, creativity, and determination.

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