Alber Elbaz: Never afraid of breaking new ground

In a life filled with firsts, Alber Elbaz gained unquestionable status as a creative genius and a groundbreaking fashion designer. — AFP pic
In a life filled with firsts, Alber Elbaz gained unquestionable status as a creative genius and a groundbreaking fashion designer. — AFP pic

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NEW YORK, April 27 — Throughout his career, Alber Elbaz — who died Saturday, April 24, age 59 from Covid-19 — strived endlessly to bring out the best in women — all women — from Kim Kardashian to Minnie Mouse to Hollywood’s biggest stars, making them ever stronger and more independent. In a life filled with firsts, Alber Elbaz gained unquestionable status as a creative genius and a groundbreaking fashion designer.

News of the death of one of the world’s most respected fashion designers, Alber Elbaz, has stirred emotion in the fashion world and beyond. His creative genius, his groundbreaking vision and, above all, his personality — spanning humour, modesty and generosity — left their mark on an entire generation, of men, no doubt, but especially women, on whom the designer unwaveringly shone the spotlight, making them shine, making them sublime, no matter what their origins, their waist size, or their place in society. The designer had, in fact, made a recent comeback with the AZ Factory label, launched in January, again with the aim of bringing out the best in women, with accessible pieces destined for each and every woman. Who else but Alber Elbaz could have succeeded in that particular challenge?

If there’s one designer who has never been afraid of a first, it’s Alber Elbaz. Even with the wildest, most audacious feats — like dressing the global megastar Kim Kardashian for her first Vogue cover, or creating a bespoke outfit for Minnie Mouse’s first life-sized fashion show at Disneyland Paris — he always rose to the challenge, succeeded with style, and always with that signature smile — as attentive as it was mischievous — which helped make him a unique figure in the industry.

Dressing Kim Kardashian

While Kim Kardashian may be close to many fashion designers, the ties she forged with Alber Elbaz weren’t especially common knowledge. And yet, he was the designer who dressed the star for her first Vogue cover — not a choice that celebrities of this calibre make lightly. He also dressed her, with the Lanvin label, for the first Met Ball to which she was invited, as explains the former reality TV star herself in an emotional message published on Instagram in the hours following the announcement of Alber Elbaz’s death.

“When I heard the news of his passing today my heart broke. My first time to Paris I was surprised with a lunch with Alber and I almost fainted when he walked in. He was the most warm and welcoming. Alber dressed me for my first Vogue cover and gifted me with the cover dress to hold onto that memory forever. Then Alber and Lanvin dressed me to the first Met Ball I was invited to on my own. Our fittings were filled with laughs and hugs! What a sweet soul. I will cherish all of our memories forever,” said Kim Kardashian.

Minnie Mouse, a unique fashion icon

Not content with making women look and feel great — whether in the street or on the red carpet — Alber Elbaz also created a bespoke outfit for a unique popular icon, Minnie Mouse. The world’s most stylish mouse had the honour of wearing a Lanvin gown, designed by Alber Elbaz, at the first and only fashion show held at Disneyland Paris, in spring 2013. This unprecedented event brought together European designers and studios, and essentially appeared like a giant party, simultaneously off-the-wall and full of emotion, and concluded with the model of the day, Minnie Mouse, taking to the runway. Making a rare appearance in something other than her classic polka dot dress, she paraded a spectacular corset dress in blue neoprene, embellished with mirrors and jewels.

A touch of genius, a visionary spirit and a good dose of humour were all essential for taking on that kind of event, and the Israeli-American designer was never found wanting on those fronts. It also took someone who adored women, adored making them sublime, adored seeing them move with elegance and modernity, while naturally flouting the diktats the industry so often imposed. This sensitivity, intuition and unique vision will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the history of fashion and will be greatly missed. — ETX Studio

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