A self-confessed workaholic (though he hates the expression), Elbaz explains he has only had three weekends off since August. The pace shows no sign of slowing, with a series of further anniversary celebrations planned, including a fashion show in Beijing on April 26.
For now, he is still basking in the afterglow of the Paris event, where—backed by retro orchestra Pink Martini—the designer took to the microphone to sing Doris Day’s classic “Que Sera, Sera,” winning a standing ovation from a crowd including Jessica Alba, Tilda Swinton and Pharrell Williams.
It was a song with a message in a season that saw fashion’s revolving door spin faster, with changes at the helm of Jil Sander and Yves Saint Laurent.
“I think it was a very relevant song for today in fashion, when everybody is very busy, or maybe too busy, in speculation,” Elbaz explains. “I thought it would be a nice song to sing also for all my colleagues, to tell them and to tell all of us: You know what? We cannot see the future.”
The performance capped one of his most flamboyant Lanvin shows in recent memory, which saw models vamping it up in cocktail dresses drowning in oversize frills and whimsical floral print dresses paired with brightly colored furs.
“It was about these archival pieces, and bringing them back with joy and freedom,” he says. “We are living in a controlled society today, and I didn’t feel like having control—I felt like having anything goes.”
The irony is that by the time Elbaz finished giving television interviews after the show, he had practically missed his own party.
“Pink Martini wasn’t there anymore, and the food was long gone,” he says. “So I asked to have a sandwich, and it was midnight and I left. And only the day later, they showed me the video with all the people dancing and having so much fun, and I loved seeing it.”
The public outpouring of affection that Elbaz provokes is a measure of his critical and commercial success. In his decade at Lanvin, he has transformed the label into a go-to resource for celebrities and professional women alike. Lanvin’s 2011 revenues, exclusive of licensing royalties, rose 24 percent to 204 million euros (about $270 million).
The designer says he felt he made his mark from his very first show for the house. “And it just went like an evolution, because I always say that I prefer evolution to revolution,” he notes. That incremental approach has sometimes put him at odds with a fashion system that’s always crying for novelty, but Elbaz shrugs off the criticism.
“I sometimes read bloggers, and sometimes they will say, ‘This looks too familiar because we saw it last season.’ But you know, it’s like the Chanel suit. I mean, it’s a Chanel suit, and an Hermès Kelly bag is an Hermès Kelly bag. This is a little bit my vocabulary,” he says.
His most recent coup was dressing both best actress Meryl Streep and best actor Jean Dujardin for the Oscars. Elbaz says Dujardin was a longtime fan of the label, but he has yet to meet Streep, for whom he was asked to design a dress made of eco-certified fabric as part of Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge.
“The seamstress that made the dress worked for three days and three nights on the dress, and after she finished, she was sick for three days,” he recalls. “And you know, with the Oscars, you do the dress and you never know if they will wear it. I wanted so much for [Streep] to wear it, just for this woman that didn’t go to sleep for three days, and just put so much love into the dress.”
That self-effacing approach is one of the keys to his success.
“I always say that my job is to be like a concierge in a beautiful hotel,” Elbaz says. “At the end of the day, I need to go back home to Staten Island. I don’t want to live on Park Avenue, because if I did that, I would live the dream, and the dream would become reality. And I think that maintaining the dream is the most important thing.”
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye