Before his sudden departure, Alber Elbaz was celebrated for transforming the once-ailing couture house Lanvin into one of the most sought-after luxury labels in the world during his 14-year tenure. He took up the mantle of creative director in 2001 and re-established a strong, commercially successful DNA for the French brand. In October 2015, unexpected news emerged that he was exiting from his long-held role, "the decision of the company's majority shareholder." 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.
Elbaz, who was born in 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, 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 the 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 honour of his 10-year anniversary as creative director of Lanvin Elbaz released a book in 2012 featuring over 3,000 images, peppered with the designer’s own short narratives and musings.
Throughout his career, Elbaz has been awarded a slew of industry accolades in recognition of his contribution to fashion, including the 2005 CFDA International Designer award and Most Influential Designer at the inaugural World Fashion Awards held by WGSN. In 2013, Elbaz was announced as the winner of the Geoffrey Beene Fashion Impact Award at the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund dinner. In 2009 he was awarded the Grande Médaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris by mayor Bertrand Delanoë, for his positive impact on the city, and in 2016, he was presented with the prestigious French Legion of Honour.
Since exiting Lanvin Elbaz has collaborated with French perfumer Frédéric Malle on a fragrance called Superstitious, which was released in 2017.