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03-03-2005
  1
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Alber Elbaz, Creative Director at Lanvin
from wwd...

Thursday, March 03, 2005
The Latest From Lanvin
By Miles Socha



PARIS — “It’s not easy when [business conditions] are not perfect, but it gives you the drive. When you lack things, you have to think and find solutions. This is designing.”
Elbaz was alluding to Lanvin’s ongoing financial woes and tight cost controls. Last year, the house let go 65 employees and exited the perfume and watch businesses in an effort to stem heavy losses, which had mounted to 22 million euros on sales of 79.3 million euros in 2003, or losses of $29 million on sales of $104.7 million at current exchange.
Majority owner Shaw-Lan Wang, a Taiwanese publishing magnate, and her son, Sing-Ming Chu, who run the business, declined to be interviewed, even as speculation continues to whirl about the possibility of them selling all or part of the business.
But Elbaz — said he is content with Wang’s take-it-slow approach.
“Everyone works on a different time schedule. You have to ask, ‘Do you want to have stores all over the world?’ I’m not sure I want that,” Elbaz mused over lunch at the Crillon bar here. “Lanvin is a special house. The beauty of this brand is that it’s not everywhere; not everyone wears it. Moving gradually is better for me.”
And Lanvin is making undeniable headway.

An earnest but nervous sort, Elbaz acknowledges he has blossomed at Lanvin. Trained by the late Geoffrey Beene for seven years, Israeli-born Elbaz was thrust into the limelight in 1996 when he was recruited to head Guy Laroche.
Reflecting on the difficult three seasons spent at YSL, Elbaz mused that working for the house was “too intimidating,” not only because he succeeded a living legend, but because Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole swooped in and tried to orchestrate a revival à la Gucci.
[B]“Not everything in life is like coffee; not everything is instant,” said Elbaz, who is partial to talking in such similes. “Time is a very important factor.”[B/]
To be sure, Elbaz’s ability to stage winning fashion shows and create collections with editorial appeal has grown exponentially since his YSL days. Asked to account for the change, he said: “More than anything [my time at YSL] helped me to focus — what I know, what I want to do. I’m more true to myself now and more honest with my work and I’m enjoying the moment. I feel more mature.”
And happier at Lanvin, which he praises for its “human scale” and for the freedom to “make mistakes, be less corporate and less formulaic....When you work with joy, it’s reflected in the colors, the fabrics and the feeling of the clothes.”
Elbaz, who last fall squelched widespread speculation he was headed to Givenchy by renewing a “long-term” contract with Lanvin, said he stayed because of a strong rapport with Wang —
“I get along with her very well. She’s an extremely intelligent woman,” he said. “She doesn’t interfere with my work. She let go. I proved it could be done. I proved we could grow the business. She has me more involved in more decisions and I feel very welcomed.”

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03-03-2005
  2
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from lanvin's pre-fall collection shown during couture week...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 030305_19.jpg (24.4 KB, 104 views)
File Type: jpg 030305_20.jpg (20.7 KB, 89 views)

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03-03-2005
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tailored
 
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thanks for posting softie...

i'm very happy he's staying on...glad that he's found a home that works with his aesthetic (and lanvin's)...

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j'adore couture (life in fashion and in print)
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03-03-2005
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Good news for a good match.

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03-03-2005
  5
V.I.P.
 
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I'm glad Elbaz is a genius at what he does, and every thing is just beuatiful.

I ahve been waiting to see teh pre fall couture collection, it sounded so intresting.

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05-03-2005
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Yay! I'm so glad. Elbaz is a genius.

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05-03-2005
  7
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THANK GOD. I love Lanvin, and love Elbaz at the helm. Brilliant brilliant move.

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09-09-2005
  8
Power to the 99%
 
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Alber Elbaz interviews
Here's part 1 of the Bazaar interview:

From Sept 05 Harper’s Bazaar [they didn’t see fit to put this online, so thought I would ]

An Artist of the Floating World by Lisa Armstrong

He has the warmth of a teddy bear, the sensitivity of a poet and the desire for women to project their true selves in his featherlight frocks. Is Alber Elbaz too nice to be working in fashion?

On a steamy summer day this past June, Alber Elbaz, a small, intense Israeli who has transformed Lanvin from a slightly dusty French fashion house into one of the industry’s most desirable, plodded his way up the stairs of the New York Public Library, where he had come to collect the CFDA’s award for best international designer. Squish, squish, squish. His leather lace-ups, still soaking wet after he traipsed through a bog in Central Park early that day for the Bazaar photo shoot, cut through any sense of haughtiness that the evening might possess.

Elbaz is recounting his trip to New York for me a month later at the Crillon hotel in Paris. It is around the corner from his headquarters, above the Lanvin store on the Faubourg Saint-Honore. His tale reminds me of a lunch we had a year ago, when he announced how tortured he was. At that moment he did not, I have ot say, look particularly agonized, but perhaps that is the curse of having twinkly eyes and a garrulous nature. But here we were, another lunch, another nook. Same mischievous eyes. I ask him how the agony is going. “Worse than ever,” he retorts, tucking into his lobster. “The big difference between now and five years ago is that it’s more neurotic. More scary. I’m just waiting for tragedy. You can’t imagine the agony after each show.”

This is what is called double jeopardy. After his very public humiliation at Yves Saint Laurent, when Gucci acquired the label in 1999 and Elbaz was let go a few months later, nothing in theory should hurt him again. Critically, he is adored. Commercially (a word he abhors, incidentally—“What does it mean?”), Lanvin goes from strength to strength. Its majority owner, the reticent Madame Shaw-Lan Wang, has said she knew within seven minutes of meeting Elbaz four years ago that he was the person for the job. But in any case, world domination is not—nor, one suspects, will it ever be—on his agenda.

The fear, though partly stoked by Elbaz’s superstitions (if he thinks the worst, it can’t happen), is real enough. And fear, he says, “is what keeps you going.” Occasionally, he even talks about getting out of fashion. But “he’s a stayer,” says Julie Gilhart, Barney’s New York’s vice president and fashion directory. “I think he will become one of the great designers of his time.”

Elbaz’s compulsion to “keep things real,” as he puts it (modest apartment, no car, office the size of an elevator—“smaller, come to think of it”), borders on the obsessive. It’s why he likes his friends in Israel to call him Albert. (He dropped the T when he arrived in New York in 1986 because everyone was overenunciating it.) It’s why he regularly gives himself stern little talkings-to (in the third person, no less). And why he rarely takes holidays: “Me, on holiday? First I lose my passport, then I miss the plane, the sky falls in and I hate the place when I get there. In any case, I can never stop thinking about work.”

He’s being slightly dramatic here, but that’s what artists do. The point is, Elbaz’s nature is so self-evidently poetic that one wonders why 20 years ago he chose to express himself through clothes, not words. “Irving Penn asked me the same thing recently,” reflects Elbaz. “I couldn’t stand the solitariness of being a writer. And I can express everything I want to say through clothes.”

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09-09-2005
  9
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One Of My Favorite Designers From A Humbleness Standpoint

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10-09-2005
  10
backstage pass
 
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Very heart warming article! Thanks!

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10-09-2005
  11
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that interview was very good.

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10-09-2005
  12
flaunt the imperfection
 
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if only more artists were able to find a place in this world the way alber elbaz has...

i am very happy for him ...

thanks ta-ta...
looking forward to the next installment...

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10-09-2005
  13
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Here 'tis ...

Part 2 of Harper’s Bazaar interview


{As mentioned in the thread about this issue, there’s a really gorgeous portrait that accompanies this article, but as you can see I have no scanner}

Well, not quite. “My God, Alber can talk,” says former mentor Tamara Yovel Jones, now head of the fashion-design dept at Shenkar, the prestigious design college outside Tel Aviv that Elbaz attended after leaving the Israeli army. “He always was this great personality. Very curious, very confident without ever being overbearing. I won’t say [he was] ambitious, because that can have harsh connotations. Most of all, what interested Alber was learning how to make good clothes.”

Not much has changed. Elbaz can still talk—impeccable Israeli-accented sound bites or long philosophical tracts that are always fascinating, funny or wise—and he remains intrigued by technique, creating dresses without zippers, clothes for hot weather that barely touch the body (except as a caress) and this fall’s suits without shoulder pads. “When I got the job at Lanvin,” he says, “it dawned on me that the one thing I had to do there was go back to basics. Does the world need another 600 handbags? I don’t think so. The challenge now is to make everything about design rather than styling.” For one so agonized, he looks remarkably cheerful. “Hmm, I’m definitely all about contradictions. And from the plus and the minus, maybe you get the energy.” [He is a Gemini …]


Perhaps it was energy, rather than geography or family antecedents, that propelled him toward fashion. Tel Aviv, where the Elbaz family—Alber, his three siblings, his hairdresser father and his aspiring-artist mother—moved from Morocco when he was six months old, was something of a fashion vacuum. [Btw, there seems to be a strong sense of French fashion in Morocco judging from some of the people I’ve known from there--] “For a time I wanted to be an actor,” he remembers. His stint in the army (“I was asthmatic, so 10 days’ marching with all the other defectives, and that was it”) saw him in charge of organizing entertainment. But he also drew—and always had done. “If you saw what I was drawing at five, honestly, it wasn’t so different from what I do now.” Except that all the dresses were long because he couldn’t draw legs—until his mother, Allegria, taught him how. {Does Olivier know how to draw legs? }

Allegria Elbaz has clearly been a forceful presence in Alber’s life. It was she who held down two jobs to support her four children after her husband died. And it is she who counsels her son to keep his head down, stay quiet. This is the way to evade disaster. “She’s very sensitive, my mother,” says Elbaz. “The whole family is. And emotional. But please don’t make out my childhood to be this Cinderella story. It was a bit tough, that’s all.”

Perhaps the Cinderella syndrome is also rooted in his apparent incongruity: As Gilhart observes, Elbaz is “overwhelmingly loving, kind and loyal.” What’s a sensitive soul like him doing in fashion? Even these qualities aren’t quite what they seem. He may be warm, humble and translucently vulnerably, but as Gilhart says, “he’s faster than a speeding bullet when it comes to thinking creatively and assessing a situation.”

Ten years ago Elbaz may not have embraced the kind of jet-setting lifestyle that was de rigueur for designers who wanted to create global uberbrands, but his philosophy just happens to jibe perfectly with the fashion cognoscenti’s current desire for discreet presences who can craft individual clothes that exude emotional authenticity. “I love his sense of what a woman wants to wear,” says Nicole Kidman. [pull quote] “He makes real clothes that are elegant and very modern. I think it’s the simplicity that I am drawn to, the clean silhouette and his amazing sense of color.” Kidman is not the only fashion icon to shop at Lanvin, and I do mean shop—the company has neither the means not the mentality to bombard Hollywood with freebies. Sofia Coppola and Sarah Jessica Parker have also made the pilgrimage to the Paris boutique. As Kidman says, “I had bought a few things for myself already [at Lanvin] and had been wearing them out and about before I first met Alber on an impromptu shopping trip in Paris.”

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There's a need for more individuality today, and my job is to cater to women, not dictate to them.
--Alber Elbaz
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10-09-2005
  14
flaunt the imperfection
 
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thank you...

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10-09-2005
  15
V.I.P.
 
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awww I love him even more after this article

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