Thinking about the magic of Albar Elbaz

November 01 2015

I can’t say why I’ve been so obsessed by the phenomenal Albar Elbaz’s departure from Lanvin.  I’m reading every article, reading his statements, reading about his staff, the workers and their demands that the majority owner of Lanvin come to Paris and answer their questions. What is so special about him, anyway?

During his tenure at Lanvin, Elbaz has been considered to be at the most haute level of the fashion world, although he does not formally do “haute couture.” While I try to stay deeply plugged into what is going in fashion, particularly as a lens to society and culture, I have always seen that his work that is far above trends. And that has seemed to me to be coming from a core place inside of him --- he’s not just another designer describing this fall season’s collection as being inspired by Swiss milkmaids in the Yucatan, or Unicorns coupled with The Matrix.

So, I want to share with you an excerpt from an interview done with Elbaz in 2014 with the Business of Fashion. They write, “His designs reflect consistency, intellectual involvement and a depth of investigation into designing clothes that puts Elbaz on the level of a master like Cristóbal Balenciaga. Well known is the story of Balenciaga's reaction to a journalist whose enquiry about his “new ideas” for the coming season elicited the cold reply, “Madam, I never have new ideas.” Diana Vreeland once told me, referring to Seventh Avenue in the 1970s, that “modern designers think they need ideas. But they are wrong. All they need is a point of view.” In many ways, Elbaz’s way of working at Lanvin reflects the stance of both Balenciaga and Vreeland. He does not think each season must be a new start, or a fresh awakening. Indeed, he resists the ebb and flow of fashion in favour of developing his own ideas, incrementally, over long periods of time.” 

I’m so interested in this quote because it reflects what the essence of the work I do with my clients. Point of view is not style; it’s elemental, wired into who you are, and expressed through peak attributes married with your skills. Elbaz could be a fashion designer, or a chef, or an architect. The magical alchemy, pleasure, and rigor of his work will be the same, no matter what. That is indeed someone, and something, above fashion. 

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