Fashion designer Alber Elbaz was born in 1961 in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, but grew up with his family in Israel, until he moved to New York in the 1980s to work and make a name for himself.
His curriculum is quite impressive. He worked with some of the most important European labels before becoming Lanvin’s creative director from 2001 to 2015. In 1997 he joined Guy Laroche and brought a new image to the firm, which at the time was quite classic and conservative. His leadership at Laroche was short, and by 1998 he was already working for Yves Saint Laurent’s ready-to-wear collection. As his recognition within the French firm grew, his name came up as a possible successor after Saint Lauren´s retirement.
However, the Gucci group bought YSL, and Tom Ford, who was then Gucci’s creative director, decided to dismiss Elbaz. Three years later, Elbaz was appointed the artistic director of Lanvin in Paris. His work at Lanvin is perhaps his most impressive tenure with a fashion label. Founded in 1915 by couturier Jeanne Lanvin, the company reached its apex from 1920 to 1940 with the creation of beautiful designs and perfumes; most memorable: Arpèrge and My Sin.
Lanvin started a new era with Elbaz‘s arrival. As artistic director, he revitalized and modernized the company, bringing it once more to the list of the most exclusive fashion firms in the world. In the United States, a 2009 photo of First Lady Michelle Obama wearing Lanvin sneakers increased the brand’s popularity, as the image went viral all over the world. That same year, in the month of December, Lanvin opened its first store in the United States in Bal Harbour, in Miami Beach, Florida.
The South Florida boutique was followed by a meteoric race to open stores all over the world. Currently, in the US, Lanvin has boutiques in Bal Harbour, Las Vegas, Manhattan, Beverly Hills and Chicago, and their products are also available at luxury department stores around the country.
The clothes Elbaz created for Lanvin were deceivingly simple, feminine and romantic, hinting at a reinterpretation of Jeanne Lanvin’s vision but for a contemporary audience. The designer respects and admires women of all ages, and his models range in age from 18 to 82, many unrelated to the worlds of fashion or modeling. Adored by Hollywood stars such as Nicole Kidman, Sofia Coppola, Jessica Alba, and Chloë Sevigny, his designs continuously show up at the red carpets of the most exclusive events.
Elbaz is known to his colleagues as a kind, affable guy; sensitive, intelligent, and a steady worker who’s always willing to help his team. Now in his 50s, he keeps a youthful attitude and dedicates countless hours to the work he loves.
In 2011 the house of Dior offered him a coveted position as the designer, which he rejected because Lanvin offered him more freedom. Eventually, Alber Elbaz left Lanvin in 2015 due to personal differences with Shaw—Lan Wang—Madame Wang—the Taiwanese businesswoman who owned the label at the time.
During the 14 years Elbaz worked for Lanvin, the classic French label grew exponentially both in terms of revenue and prestige with clients such as Meryl Streep, Ema Stone, Natalie Portman and the Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. ■