Yesterday, the fashion world was shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Israeli designer Alber Elbaz due to COVID-19. At only 59, Elbaz had become one of the most celebrated designers of the 21st century. Known for his 14-year long stint at Lanvin and his signature simple feminine designs, he amassed an army of devoted fans, all of whom mourned his death. Here’s everything you need to know about the late designer.
BRINGING LIFE TO LANVIN
Although his time at Lanvin ended unexpectedly, it cannot be denied how important his designs were for the French luxury house. Over a period of 14 years, Elbaz rejuvenated the brand by bringing classic formalwear into the modern-day. He brought humour, sex appeal and elegance with every show. It’s no wonder that their sales skyrocketed with Elbaz at the helm, and it’s even less of a surprise that they declined so greatly when he left.
HOW HIS OWN STRUGGLES SHAPED HIS DESIGNS
Elbaz frequently discussed how his own personal life impacted his designs, most notably his weight. Elbaz had always been aware that he was overweight, and he adapted his designs to fit this. He wanted his work to include women of different ages, shapes and sizes. Speaking to journalist Ariel Levy in 2009, Elbaz said “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”. His own views on weight, particularly in an industry that craves skinny is what drew so many people to his work.
NEVER SHORT OF TRUTHFUL WORDS
Like many legends of the industry, Elbaz always spoke the truth. He used his own personal experience in tandem with his views on fashion to deliver countless timeless quotes. Some of our favourite nuggets of wisdom by Elbaz are:
“If it’s not edible, it’s not food. If it’s not wearable, it’s not fashion.”
“I prefer spontaneity. At least that means you’re not sticking to some formula. Perfection scares me—because after perfection there is nothing left.”
“Success is like a perfume, we can smell it but never drink it.”
AN ADORED TITAN OF THE INDUSTRY
Many words have been used to describe Elbaz following his death, all positive. Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri described him as “generous, talented, loving” while Marc Jacobs wrote, “I always admired you for your Kindness, your vision, your creativity and extraordinary talent”. Although he himself avoided the spotlight, his designs were adored by celebrities and other creative directors alike. How often do you see so many titans of the industry come together to celebrate the life of one designer? From Naomi Campbell to Kim Kardashian, Stella McCartney to Giambattista Valli, all of them and ourselves felt our hearts get a little bit smaller with his passing.
Alber Elbaz was a designer who for more than 30 years captured the hearts and minds of those who love fashion. His warmth, his charm and his desire to make the industry more inclusive is a testament to his talents and is a trait that the rest of the industry could do well with following.