The Passing of Leïla Menchari

After the announcement of Sergio Rossi’s death, another creative mastermind has left us. This morning, I received the announcement that «it is with great emotion and sadness that the House of Hermès learned on the 4th of April 2020 the passing of Leïla Menchari, the Queen of Enchantment as Michel Tournier called her.»

The book in English entitled «Leïla Menchari, the Queen of Enchantment» can be ordered online on the Hermès website and shows most of her works for the French Maison.

Born in 1927 in Tunis, Leïla was a trained painter at the Beaux Arts School of fine arts in Tunis, then the Beaux Arts School of fine arts in Paris, she was a model for Guy Laroche for a while, before entering the Annie Beaumel‘s decoration team at Hermès in 1961.

Window display S/S 1995 with a sculpture by Christian Renonciat

An outstanding dreamer and storyteller, she was the Artistic Director of the windows of 24 Faubourg, the Hermès flagship store in Paris. Her visual concepts never ceased to arouse curiosity, astonishment and surprise to the amazement of passers-by, creating windows that opened to another realm. «Thanks to Leïla, exoticism found a home, happily and permanently, in Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré», says Axel Dumas.

The glass green grotto from 1992 was among of Leïla’s highlights.

In 2017, Hermès à tire-d’aile, les Mondes de Leïla Menchari, an exhibition which celebrated her vision at the Grand Palais, allowed a wider audience discover her unique and poetic universe.
Leïla Menchari has long been the driving force behind the House’s Colours Committee, leaving a legacy through her elegance and her extraordinary sense of nuance evident in the Women’s Silk collection.

Sandy dreams from the land of the pharaohs in 2005.

«Many of us at Hermès have learned a lot from Leïla. She taught us to look at the world through the prism of color. She was a storyteller without equal that enchanted the world. We are infinitely grateful to her for all that she has done for us, that she passed on to us», adds Pierre-Alexis Dumas.

Primary colors in 1982.

An open, generous, resolutely modern woman, she was a woman of freedom. Her passing leaves to all those who had the joy of knowing and working with her, on both sides of the Mediterranean, the memory of a perpetual quest for beauty, a boundless passion for creation and craftsmanship.

Rest in Peace, Leïla Menchari! Below you can enjoy more of her amazing creations that might inspire you to redecorate your home …

LoL, Sandra

Leïla working in the windows on a display.

Photos: © Hermès

Alber Elbaz Teams Up with Richemont

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!

LoL, Sandra

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