Great news for the fashion world: luxury conglomerate Richemont is teaming up with former Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz for a new venture at a time when luxury goods groups are vying to make star hires.
«I am very happy to partner with Richemont and to establish my ‘dream factory,’ which will focus on developing solutions for women of our times,» Elbaz said in a statement.
Me with Alber Elbaz in 2015
Elbaz was born in Casablanca, Morocco, in 1961 to a Moroccan Jewish family. He immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of ten and grew up in Holon. After his studies at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, he had jobs at Geoffrey Beene, Guy Laroche, Yves Saint Laurent where he designed the Rive Gauche collection under Saint Laurent himself, and Krizia.
Lanvin F/W 2012 campaign
He then began designing for Lanvin, France’s oldest fashion house, in 2001 and transformed the Maison from a small label with only 15 wholesale accounts to a global fashion house known for feminine, comfortable and clever ready-to-wear that earned the approval of celebrities, critics and customers alike. Elbaz’s simple, feminine clothing, which has been compared to Lanvin’s 1920s outfits, has been lauded by the fashion press. Suzy Menkes wrote: «Elbaz is every woman’s darling. And that includes Nicole, Kate, Chloë Sevigny, Sofia Coppola and a slew of rising movie names.» In 2010, Elbaz launched for Lanvin a mass-market collection with H&M, and proved to be one of the retailer’s most popular annual runway collaboration series. In 2013, he created a much anticipated make-up collection for Lancôme.
Therefore the shock was huge when the announcement came that Elbaz had been let go from the fashion house due to major disagreements on strategy and targeted investment in 2015 with major shareholder Taiwanese businesswoman Shaw-Lan Wang. The house has since changed hands and failed to find its footing.
Shaw-Lan Wang and Alber Elbaz in happier times. Photo: BFA / The Cut
After Elbaz was abruptly fired from Lanvin, the industry has wondered when and how he might return to design full-time. Between then and now, he has turned his hand to designing accessories for LeSportsac, collaborated on a fragrance with luxury perfumer Frédéric Malle, and mentored at prestigious design schools. Recently, the star designer had his comeback For Elbaz, after having skipped several years of shows, watching the fashion industry shift from the sidelines. He designed a capsule collection of bags and shoes for luxury Italian brand Tod’s, called «Happy Moments.» Known for his charming and emotional personality, it couldn’t be a better match.
Alber Elbaz lives it up at Tod’s Happy Moments launch. Photo: Tod’s / Getty
«I like fashion, I like fashion people. But after Lanvin, I did not like fashion,» he told Elle Magazine in September 2019, «I needed to fall in love with fashion again.» To fall back in love with fashion took a lot of time. «Because you have to take a few years distance,» Elbaz continues earnestly.
A shoe from Tod’s Happy Moments collection created by Elbaz.
Now Elbaz has a partner for his next chapter. Today, Richemont announced an agreement to form a joint venture with the designer, calling it AZfashion, which the Swiss luxury conglomerate described as «an innovative and dynamic start-up, meant to turn dreams into reality.»
As much as the fashion industry has anticipated Elbaz’s return, he and Richemont have their work cut out for them. The announcement about the new brand indicates a completely different approach in this new brand, which the designer told the New York Times will be project-based.
Feminine and dreamy designs: Lanvin F/W 2011 by Alber Elbaz
«Upon hearing Alber Elbaz describe his vision for fashion and the projects it inspires in him, I was again struck by his creativity and insight,» Richemont Chairman Johann Rupert said in a statement. «His talent and inventiveness, with his sensitivity towards women and their wellbeing, will be of great value to our group and its maisons.»
We will all be watching how Elbaz’ vision will transform… I am sure he will let us dream again… something that is desperately needed in today’s fashion world. Fashion should be fun and Elbaz will teach us!
Me in a Lanvin by Alber Elbaz dress, click here for the post.
Photo: © David Biedert Photography
Photos: Courtesy of the Brands, or otherwise mentioned