A tribute to Alber Elbaz
On 24th April, the world lost one of its most visionary fashion designers. The inimitable Alber Elbaz – beloved friend of many at London College of Fashion – died in Paris at the age of 59, from Covid-19. The significance of what Alber Elbaz contributed will not disappear – either from the history of fashion or from the wardrobes of women who have kept wearing and treasuring his clothes.
Elbaz’ career spanned over three decades. Born in 1961, in Morocco to a Moroccan-Jewish family, his family relocated to Israel when he was a baby. In 1985, he moved to New York to pursue his love of fashion, designing first for a small dressmaker’s shop in the Garment District, before training as a senior assistant with Geoffrey Beene until 1996. He then spent a year working as artistic director at Guy Laroche before being scouted as creative designer for Yves Saint Laurent. In 2001 he began his famous 14-year tenure with Lanvin where he was credited with radically redefining the brand, transforming it into one of the most sought after luxury labels in the world. He parted ways with Lanvin in 2015, and in the following years worked collaboratively with various fashion brands as well as designing all of the costumes for Natalie Portman’s character in A Tale of Love and Darkness. In the year prior to his untimely death, Elbaz launched AZ Factory, his own label dedicated to inclusivity and the natural curves and shapes of all women’s bodies.
Elbaz’ personality was as expansive, generous and wonderful as his designs. Everyone who had the pleasure to work with him spoke of his compassion, his humility and his beauty. From radiant cocktail dresses with exposed zippers to form fitting knitwear and pointed trainers, his creations wrapped everyone he worked with and everyone he dressed with joy, confidence and delight. AZ Factory, his final project, was about dreams. It was the culmination of all that Elbaz believed fashion should be: protective, loving and kind. Garments designed to hug the body, providing support where it is needed the most. With this label, he brought humanity and sensitivity to technology and innovative approaches to the ready-to-wear market.
Alber Elbaz rewrote the rules of fashion. He was a dreamer, an inventor, an artist and, most of all, a friend. It’s difficult to comprehend his sudden absence and the depths of this loss to our industry and our creative community. We can only promise to pick up the baton, to continue the work he has done, and honour the beautiful legacy he leaves behind. The heart of this legacy is love: Alber Elbaz loved and he wanted to be loved.