Could this man be the world's most interesting fashion designer?
We round up three reasons why you should know about the iconic Alber Elbaz.
After an impressive 14-year tenure as creative director at renowned Paris fashion house Lanvin, Israeli native Alber Elbaz is moving on to his next endeavor. Elbaz is credited with revitalizing Lanvin, the oldest surviving French fashion house, into one of the most respected couture design houses in the world. Since taking over as creative director in 2001, Elbaz's gowns have become some of the most sought-after on the red carpet, worn by celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman and Kim Kardashian.
News of Elbaz's departure comes shortly after Raf Simons announced his departure from French fashion house Christian Dior and the announcement that Ralph Lauren is stepping down as CEO of his namesake empire. It's unclear what the beloved Elbaz will do next, though it's speculated that he may take the helm at Dior. His fearless influence on fashion and creative genius is something to admire, whatever he does in the future.
In the meantime, here are three reasons we love this fashion visionary.
He's a mastermind behind red carpet style
Elbaz, who studied at Shenkar College of Art and Design in Israel, is widely revered for his influence on the red carpet. His draping techniques and meticulous attention to detail have become instantly recognizable. From awards ceremonies to movie premieres and film festivals, Elbaz has dressed everyone from Beyoncé and Nicole Kidman to Claire Danes and Emma Stone. He even turned Lanvin's satin sneakers into must-haves worn by first lady Michelle Obama. Elbaz has also won numerous awards, including the CFDA International Designer Award and a French Legion of Honor.
He's trying to save fashion from itself
Elbaz has long critiqued the hurried pace of today's fashion industry and is known for his refusal to follow trends for the sake of grabbing attention. Just last month, before the announcement of his departure from Lanvin, the designer spoke out about his increasing discomfort with fast fashion during an acceptance speech after receiving the Fashion Group International award. "We started as couturiers, with dreams, with intuition, with feeling, we thought, What do women want? What do women need? What can I do for a woman to make her life better and easier? How can I make a woman more beautiful? That is what we used to do. Then we became 'creative directors,' so have to create, but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers, creating a buzz, making sure that it looks good in the pictures. The screen has to scream, baby. That’s the rule. And loudness is the new thing."
He's doesn't take himself too seriously
Elbaz exudes warmth and humor in a way that's very unique to the fashion industry. A self-professed "workaholic," Elbaz's drive is matched by wit and self-deprecating humor. In a video interview with The New York Times, Elbaz said his all-black office in Paris is the only place he feels skinny and beautiful. The designer is also known for his whimsical sketches that have graced pens, t-shirts and playing cards. His playful doodles even made a foray into makeup by partnering with Lancôme in 2013 on a capsule collection.
For his Fall 2012 campaign, Elbaz chose to feature real people in Lanvin’s advertising campaign. “I wanted to see people from different age groups, body shapes and personalities wearing Lanvin ... That is what Lanvin is all about and represents – we don’t only do clothes for 20-year-old girls,” he told British Vogue at the time.
"It's all about individuals with individuality," added Elbaz.
While we await word of Elbaz's next move, a response he gave to Interview Magazine years back assures us that more greatness is to come. "I think fashion is about longevity and doing your work," he said. "It isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about process – keeping it going."
Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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