Alber Elbaz, the glorious man behind Lanvin has given a rare but insightful interview to The Independent about his time at the much-loved French brand, as well as snippets into how he really feels about the fashion industry - and we've brought you the best bits!
On singing for fashion editors at Fashion Week
Alber begins the interview discussing his super brave decision to grab a mic and perform a song at the end of his last runway collection. “One day people love you, you're in, the next day, you're out. One day you're fired, and one day you're hired. So it was a song for my colleagues. The future is not ours to see. What will be, will be. We are always trying to think who's going where, what will he do? Who is going to take over? What, when, why?"
On his admiration for Sarah Burton
Alber sweetly shares a saying from his mother, which has become his motto for work and life: “Stay big in your work and small in your life," which he says really just means be modest. “I'm not a religious person in the regular sense but in the Bible you're not allowed to steal, you're not allowed to lie and you're not allowed to feel you're above other people. I never met Sarah Burton in the past, for example but when I saw a picture of her at the [royal] wedding and, while everybody was there with their pretty hats seated, she was the only one who didn't have a hat on and she was on the floor fixing the dress; I thought it was so beautiful I wrote her a note. And to see Phoebe [Philo, of Celine] who is doing such an amazing job and because she's having a baby she decides to do a smaller show and to care for that baby... I mean that is amazing. And, you know what, it will do her business no harm whatsoever. Quite the opposite. These are the moments that are important to me.”
On his new book 'Alber Elbaz – Lanvin'
Elbaz has just released a limited edition book to celebrate 10 years at Lanvin; 'Alber Elbaz – Lanvin', the purpose of which is to slow us down in our speedy consumption of fashion, and unveil the copious amount of time and detail that goes into every collection – a contrast to the mere few song’s length catwalk show we are treated to twice a year. "I thought that at a time like now, when the whole industry is about the six minutes of the show and a review that is being written in a taxi because then there is the next one, I thought, I'm going to show everyone how much effort goes into making a single dress. I wanted to show how many threads you have to put together to make one rose; how much thought goes into a button. I wanted to show a shoe in the factory in Italy being held like a baby by an old man and then attached to a machine as if it was going to the dentist. I wanted to show the jewellery. And I wanted to show the people. All the people. We had 3,000 pictures in total and we picked the ones we liked, of course, and then we went back to make sure that every single person involved is in the book, that nobody had been missed out. They are all part of it."
Speaking about his book, which in an unorthodox move has white 100 pages at the beginning…"I was worried that people would think that was gimmick-y. But it's not about being cool. I hate the word cool. It gives me a rash. If you take something out of the freezer it's cold, but what happens when it melts? It's a cool party, a cool person, a cool collection. What does that mean? I'm more interested in things that are uncool, things that have a certain individuality, a certain soul, a certain longevity, emotion, fragility..." If being uncool means soulfulness, longevity and fragility, then we can confidently say that Elbaz is an uncool as they come. And we love him for that.