Most of us know Alber Elbaz as the cuddly, perennially-bow-tied designer behind luxury label Lanvin, and more recently the creative force behind the legendary fashion house's forthcoming collaboration with H&M. The line has been fraught with excitement and speculation from the get-go and will finally revealed to the public in the form of a runway preview video tomorrow. On the eve of this big event, arguably one of the biggest fashion stories of the year, we thought we'd share a few reasons to love Alber Elbaz even more.
1. Although he's most often regarded as the designer who restored Lanvin with some much-needed luster, the Moroccan-born designer actually made the rounds throughout the fashion circuit, first at Geoffrey Beene, then Guy Laroche, then Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche before arriving at Lanvin in 2001. But unlike some designers who jump from one house to the next as they climb the career ladder, that's not the case for him. "I don't want to move around ever few years to another house," he told WWD in a recent profile.
2. Elbaz actually quit fashion at one point, following Gucci Group's acquisition of YSL and his subsequent discharge in favor of Tom Ford, which he sensitively regards as a "scar in my heart," he told WWD. He traveled the world, considered other career options—including medical school—but ultimately changed his mind, when he realized that fashion can indeed transcend the surface. "A doctor will give you a Tylenol. I will give you a beautiful red coat, and you will feel as good with Tylenol as with the red coat,” he said.
3. During Lanvin's recent Spring 2011 runway show, Elbaz saved his models from teetering—and possibly stumbling—down the runway in uncomfortably high titanium heels, instead replacing their shoes with flat sandals at the last minute (a lesson that should be shared with Christopher Bailey of Burberry). "Damn it with image. If you don't feel good in something, you don't look good with it," he said of the incident.
4. Despite being the luxury, highly-fashion house that it is, Elbaz still considers his customer, first and foremost: "Editors can hate me; women—no."
5.The collaboration with H&M, once dismissed as impossible after Elbaz said he would never create a lower-priced line for Lanvin, demonstrates not only the designer's ability to change with the times, but also his big heart: "Ninety-five percent of women cannot afford [Lanvin], so let them have a taste. It's like if I was living in a palace and opened some doors and said, 'Have tea with me, taste the food.' It's not about giving away something that belonged to someone else; it's about sharing."
What we'd give for a cup of tea with Monsieur Elbaz.