ALBER ELBAZ

Alber Elbaz is an Israeli fashion designer. After positions at a number of other fashion houses, he was the creative director of Lanvin in Paris from 2001 until 2015.

By Frosina Dimova

ALBER ELBAZ

Elbaz was born in Casablanca, Morocco, to a Moroccan Jewish family. Elbaz's father was a hairdresser, and his mother was a painter. He immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of ten and grew up in Holon. His mother became a cashier to support her four children after her husband died. Elbaz later served as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, and subsequently he studied at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan.

His mother encouraged Elbaz - who started drawing dresses at the age of seven - and gave him $800 when he left home, in 1985, to go to New York City and pursue a career in fashion. There he was trained during seven years with Geoffrey Beene.

From 1996 until 1998, Elbaz worked for the French house of Guy Laroche.

Appointed by Pierre Bergé, Elbaz worked as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent from 1998 until he was fired after three seasons when Gucci bought the company.

Elbaz began designing for Lanvin in 2001. He also held a minority stake in the company of nearly 18 percent. During his 14-year tenure, he was credited with reviving the French couture house’s fortunes, with modern takes on silk cocktail dresses and colorful, feminine designs. He also created a trend for luxury brand jewelry by launching fabric-covered pearls. His humorous sketches of everything from lollipops to his own face became a brand signature.

While at Lanvin, Elbaz also collaborated with Acne Studios on a denim collection at the end of 2008. In 2010, he led Lanvin’s work on an H&M line, including tulle dresses and bejeweled necklaces. Notably, for his fall 2012 campaign (which coincided with the house’s 10th anniversary), Elbaz chose real people to feature in Lanvin’s advertising campaign; among the models were an 18-year-old musician and an 82-year-old retiree. In 2015, he curated “Alber Elbaz/Lanvin: Manifeste,” a photography exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris, comprising more than 350 pictures taken during his tenure alongside sketches and design mock-ups.

In October 2015, Elbaz announced that he had been let go from the fashion house after disagreements with the company's major shareholder, Shaw-Lan Wang. Elbaz also complained about the lack of strategy and targeted investment of the company. Shortly before he was fired, Elbaz had hired Chemena Kamali from Chloé as women’s design director. Lanvin sales slumped following his departure in 2015 and the brand was eventually bought by China’s Fosun.

After leaving Lanvin, Elbaz designed all of the costumes Natalie Portman wore in the 2016 film A Tale of Love and Darkness which she also wrote and directed. He has since worked with various luxury brands, including Converse and LeSportsac. In 2016, he created a perfume called Superstitious for the French perfume house Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. He later collaborated with Italian shoemaker Tod's on some loafer and bag designs in 2019. Also in 2019, he joined forces with Richemont on launching AZfashion, a brand that is to focus on “developing solutions for women of our times.”

Alber Elbaz.
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