Alber Elbaz loves to tell a story. Anyone who has attended one of his intimate resort presentations, which he narrates like a master bard, knows this about him. On Friday morning, 12 hours before his Halloween bash at the Lanvin store, Elbaz is tucked into a seat at the renovated The Mark Restaurant at New York’s The Mark Hotel — his back to the breakfast crowd — and is talking about shoes. Specifically, the sensible, strappy flat sandals that dominated his recent spring runway. What appeared to be a major nod to the season’s comfort footwear trend was actually the last-minute outcome of a rather dramatic and anxiety-ridden rehearsal. At least the way Elbaz tells it.
“It was a nightmare,” recalls Elbaz, noting that the models were initially shod with towering titanium heels. “We did the rehearsal and all of a sudden I saw the girls couldn’t walk. I saw the agony in their faces. They were shaking; they looked like alcoholic girls.” Luckily, he had the sandals from the commercial collection backstage. “We bring everything [to the show site],” he explains. So off the stilettos went and on came the flats. “Only 10 or 12 [of the models] said they could walk in the heels,” he continues. “But the ones that couldn’t were, like, 37 of them. I got very emotional — not that I got mad at them — but I got very emotional that they didn’t complain. You know what? Damn it with image. You can be stubborn and go after an image, but I’m not an image-maker; I’m a dressmaker. If you don’t feel good in something, you don’t look good with it.”
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