April 26, 2021

R.I.P. Alber Elbaz

Yesterday, we lost a beloved creative in the fashion industry. Designer Alber Elbaz, best known for revitalizing Lanvin during his 14 years as creative director, died of COVID-19 at the age of 59.

Elbaz was a precious figure in fashion, possessing both humility and humanity—characteristics which in and of themselves are rare in an industry where vanity and decadence often impede the ability to simply be kind. Instantly recognizable in his oversized, thick-framed glasses and an assortment of bow ties, he was a shy yet jovial man whose sincere warmth solidified his status as a respected industry darling.

Beyond his affable nature, Elbaz is remembered for transforming the house of Lanvin. In my eyes, Elbaz became synonymous with the label: Elbaz was Lanvin, and Lanvin without Elbaz was not Lanvin at all. I still point to Lanvin Spring/Summer 2011 RTW as a notable collection in the history of runway I will never forget. Elbaz was a master of cocktail dresses: ruffled, shimmery, jewel-toned, and embellished. Yet his designs were neither mawkishly girly nor blatantly sexy; they were romantic in a way that was powerful and determined. Despite being unceremoniously let go from Lanvin at the ruling of the majority stakeholder in 2015 (a decision the company must surely regret in hindsight), I recall reading of Elbaz's genuine excitement over launching his own line, AZfashion, in 2019. We can only wish Elbaz was given more time to showcase what would have manifested under this new freedom.

Elbaz’s passing is a heartache that comes with the frustrating reminder that COVID-19, as with any disease, does not discriminate—it does not judge, it does not evaluate, it does not stay away from those with gentle souls. As unfortunate and disheartening as it is to know that Elbaz became a victim of this pandemic, I have no doubt he battled COVID-19 courageously with grace and quietly without bitterness, just like he always did in fashion. To the man who slowly built an empire with nothing but modesty, may you R.I.P.

Image Source: Belfast Telegraph