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.