Remembering Alber Elbaz, the Beloved Fashion Designer Who Revived Lanvin

The widely venerated fashion designer, who recently launched his own labe after 14 years helming Lanvin, died of Covid-19 at age 59.

Alber Elbaz

The fashion industry is mourning the loss of Alber Elbaz, a highly esteemed figure who succeeded Yves Saint Laurent as designer of the label’s Rive Gauche line but is perhaps best known for elevating Lanvin into a more prominent house during his 14-year tenure as creative director. From 2001 to 2015, the Moroccan-born couturier experimented with dresses made from a single seam and which effortlessly toed the line between classic and modern. His rigorous attention to detail and masterful tailoring was the stuff of legend, and belied his ebullient demeanor and simple raison d’être of making the wearers of his clothes feel special. 

Despite Elbaz’s beloved reputation and numerous accolades, including the CFDA’s 2005 International Award and being named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2007, he often clashed with Lanvin owner Madame Wang over the brand’s lack of an “It Bag” within a fickle fashion market often fueled by accessories. His abrupt departure from the French label was acrimonious, well-documented, and controversial—he embarked on a five-year hiatus marked by global travel before launching his own brand, AZ Factory, in January, on his own terms. 

Lanvin Fall 2011

Backed by Swiss luxury company Richemont, AZ Factory strives to make reasonably priced clothes that solve women’s problems and eschew fashion-industry trappings of season and size. Johann Rupert, the founder of Richemont, released the following statement about Elbaz’s death: “I’ve lost not only a colleague but a beloved friend. Alber had a richly deserved reputation as one of the industry’s brightest and most beloved figures. I was always taken by his intelligence, sensitivity, generosity, and unbridled creativity. He was a man of exceptional warmth and talent, and his singular vision, sense of beauty, and empathy leave an indelible impression.”

Elbaz’s passing comes as the fashion industry is still reeling from the recent death of Kenzo Takada, also of Covid-19. For a little-known fact about Elbaz that may leave you with a smile, we recommend visiting Maison Bonnet, the Parisian workshop where he ordered much of his statement eyewear. 

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