His dying, as a result of COVID-19, was confirmed by Compagnie Financière Richemont, his three way partnership companion in AZ Factory, his latest fashion venture.
An ebullient character prized for his couture-like craft, Elbaz took a five-year hiatus after being ousted from Lanvin and simply launched AZ Factory, hinged on solutions-driven fashions, leisure and tech.
While his title was not on the label, the start-up was steeped in Elbaz’s character, humor, and his inimitable aptitude for soigné fashions.
“I have lost not only a colleague but a beloved friend,” Richemont founder and chairman Johann Rupert mentioned in an announcement, expressing his shock and disappointment at Elbaz’s sudden passing.
“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,” Rupert mentioned. “He was a person of remarkable heat and expertise, and his singular imaginative and prescient, sense of magnificence and empathy depart an indelible impression.
“It was a great privilege watching Alber in his last endeavor as he worked to realize his dream of ‘smart fashion that cares.’ His inclusive vision of fashion made women feel beautiful and comfortable by blending traditional craftsmanship with technology — highly innovative projects which sought to redefine the industry,” he added.
Born in Morocco and raised and educated in Israel, the designer moved to New York within the mid-1980s. After a stint at a bridal agency, he landed at Geoffrey Beene, working as his senior assistant for seven years.
Elbaz got here onto the worldwide radar when he was recruited by Ralph Toledano to helm Guy Laroche in Paris in 1996, a stint that received raves, media consideration and the job provide of a lifetime: to succeed couture legend Yves Saint Laurent on the helm of Rive Gauche ready-to-wear.
After three seasons, Elbaz was fired within the wake of Gucci Group’s takeover of YSL, with Tom Ford selecting up the design reins. Elbaz subsequently did one season with Krizia in Milan earlier than sitting on the sidelines of the enterprise for one 12 months.
He finally landed at Lanvin in 2001, and Elbaz embraced the coziness of a small, privately held firm — and a model that was beneath the radar.
Not for lengthy: His elegant, female designs and pulse-pounding runway exhibits, which had a carnival spirit, catapulted Lanvin to become a top Paris fashion house.
His rejuvenation of the model was constructed on a woman-first ethos and the cocktail gown, which ranked as probably the most essential objects of the Aughts, thanks partly to him. “I said, ‘It’s all about zip-in and zip-out,’” he mentioned in an interview in 2014.
“It was just about giving ease to women,” he mentioned of his clothes with industrial zips and uncooked edges, two of the design signatures he established for Lanvin. Dressy sneakers with grosgrain laces, ballet flats and chunky costume jewellery have been amongst his different hit designs.
During his tenure, he reworked a enterprise largely depending on males’s put on into a number one designer model for ladies, a part of the vanguard in Paris that launched a permanent pattern of couture-influenced French magnificence — and gave the French capital new buzz.
Meryl Streep famously accepted her Oscar for greatest actress in 2012 for “The Iron Lady” carrying a draped, gold lame robe by Elbaz. Other celeb followers included Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Deneuve, Kate Moss, Uma Thurman, Julianne Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Fond of musings on trend, Elbaz typically returned to the phrase “desire,” one thing he felt instinctively when he first visited the archive of the founding couturier, whose clothes from the ’30s are marvels of delicate femininity.
“I said, ‘You know we are going to make collections for women, we are going to actually emphasize the desire, the desire in fashion, the desire in design,’” he mentioned in a 2012 interview. “I was very much into design because I came from the house of Geoffrey Beene, which was all about design, and then we pushed it also to desire, to women, to reality, to be relevant. I think to be relevant is the story of my life.”
While Elbaz at all times talked a very good speak, and was among the many most quotable designers within the enterprise, he additionally trusted his intestine.
“I work mostly by intuition. Every time I think too much and try to rationalize every issue, it doesn’t work. I think that intuition is the essence of this métier,” he mentioned in 2014.
He additionally by no means dabbled in males’s put on, appointing a deputy, Lucas Ossendrijver, when he was at Lanvin.
“Our job as designers is to listen, to understand. All my career I always worked with women and for women,” he mentioned in 2019.
Indeed, Elbaz considered girls incessantly: their life, wardrobe wants, feelings. “I’m not here to make one look,” he defined in a 2007 interview. “You have to follow their needs. That’s the whole idea of design.”
Known for draping materials immediately on the physique and utilizing them to their greatest benefit, Elbaz additionally steadily emphasised the human hand in trend by leaving stray threads, a riposte to the flurry of Instagram posts and e-commerce websites that had given trend a high-tech, impersonal sheen.
After being ousted from Lanvin in October 2015 and earlier than partnering with Richemont, Elbaz busied himself with talking engagements and small design initiatives at varied worth factors, together with a collaboration with Tod’s on footwear; a Converse sneaker; a limited-edition make-up line with Lancôme; a spread of journey baggage and equipment with LeSportsac, and a perfume with French perfumer Frédéric Malle.
He returned to the style highlight final January throughout couture week in Paris, although he was detest to name it a comeback. Via a humorous mini film, he unveiled three “projects,” the primary of which — formfitting clothes dubbed My Body — went on sale instantly on the AZ Factory web site, Farfetch.com and Net-a-porter.com, the Richemont-owned e-tailer.
Key parts of the AZ Factory mission have been cutting-edge “smart” materials, a brand new enterprise mannequin hinged on initiatives reasonably than collections, and with storytelling, problem-solving and leisure embedded in design, distribution and communications.