In October 2015, unexpected news emerged that Israeli designer Alber Elbaz was departing from his long-held creative director role at Lanvin "on the decision of the company's majority shareholder." Elbaz took up the mantle of creative director of Lanvin in 2001, and was widely credited with transforming the once ailing French couture house into one of the most sought-after luxury labels in the world during his 14 year tenure. The break between Elbaz and the brand is said to have followed disagreements between the designer and Lanvin’s owner Shaw-Lan Wang and chief executive Michèle Huiban.
Throughout his career, the celebrated designer has been awarded a slew of industry accolades in recognition of his contributions to fashion, such as the 2005 CFDA ‘International Designer’ award and ‘Most Influential Designer’ at the inaugural World Fashion Awards held by WGSN. In January 2013, Elbaz was also announced as the winner of the ‘Geoffrey Beene Fashion Impact Award’ at the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund dinner. He has also been presented with the prestigious French Legion of Honour and in 2009 was awarded the Grande Médaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris, by mayor Bertrand Delanoë, for his positive impact on the city.
Elbaz, who was born in Casablanca, Morocco, began his career working at a small dressmaker’s shop in the Garment District of New York. Having moved to Israel in his youth, the designer studied at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, following a three-year mandatory inscription in the Israeli Defence Forces, before moving to New York in 1984.
Through a connection forged with Gucci’s Dawn Mello, Elbaz was introduced to couturier Geoffrey Beene in 1989. He was Beene’s assistant until 1996, crediting the experience for providing him an in-depth education in fashion design, before taking up the helm of Guy Laroche in Paris, which by then had become somewhat staid.
After little over a year at Guy Laroche, he was scouted as creative designer for Yves Saint Laurent ’s ‘Rive Gauche’ ready-to-wear womenswear line when, after three seasons, he was replaced by Tom Ford following Gucci Group’s acquisition of the label. Prior to joining Lanvin in 2001, Albez took a brief sabbatical and served as head designer for Italian design house Krizia.
At Lanvin, Elbaz entered into a number of collaborations with other companies, including a limited edition cosmetics range with Lancôme and a capsule collection for Swedish high street retailer H&M in 2010. In 2012, in honour of his ten year anniversary as creative director of Lanvin, Elbaz released a book featuring over 3,000 images, peppered with the designer’s own short narratives and musings.