Alber Elbaz


NOTHING BY HALVES: Hooting and hollering is rarely heard at government award ceremonies.

But when Alber Elbaz is the recipient, that’s what you get from a crowd that included the likes of Demi Moore, Kristin Scott Thomas, Valentino designer Pierpaolo Piccioli, and a gaggle of former executives at Lanvin, where the designer forged his reputation over a stellar 14-year tenure.

This story first appeared in the October 4, 2016 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Of course, it’s a reunion. We love Alber,” said Frederick Lukoff, now chief executive officer at Stella McCartney, who was joined by Paul Deneve, now at Apple, and Thierry Andretta, now at Mulberry.

Audrey Azoulay, French Minister of Culture and Communications, decorated Elbaz as a Commander of the Legion of Honor.

The politician related how Israeli-born Elbaz was plucked from the design studio of Geoffrey Beene by Ralph Toledano, then ceo of Guy Laroche, propelling his reputation for soigné fashions. Two years later, Pierre Berge poached him to succeed Yves Saint Laurent at the helm of Rive Gauche women’s ready-to-wear.

He joined Lanvin, with a mission to “awaken a sleeping beauty,” in 2001.

“It was the beginning of a great love affair, even if love affairs don’t always end well,” Azoulay said, prompting a round of knowing chuckles in the room, for Elbaz was ousted from Lanvin last October following disagreements with the owner and current management.

Elbaz called 2016 his “annus horribilis,” being careful to pronounce the words correctly, but assured he is ready to résumé his career.

“I’m still in love with fashion and I miss fashion and I miss you all,” he said, staring out at a packed crowd of editors, top American retail brass and many of his former Lanvin colleagues.

“One day we may be back together, but maybe another place,” he mused. “It’s the people I miss.”

Elbaz called out American Vogue’s Anna Wintour for nailing his raison d’etre: “She said all I need to be happy is a yard of fabric.”

Yet Elbaz was apologetic about the fact that, “here I am during fashion week, inviting you to a show without dresses.”

He made up for it by revealing that he collaborated with Frédéric Malle on a perfume based on the dress, which he dubbed “Superstitious,” one of his defining characteristics.

“Alber is someone who is so inspiring that you naturally push yourself further to make something truly extraordinary for him,” Malle said.

He sent his guests home with a sampler bottle, while the sent is due out in March 2017.

Scott Thomas, who famously wore a gold Lanvin dress to the Golden Globes in 2009, said she’s impatient for the designer to return to work. “He has to: I need more dresses,” she said.

Moore said she met Elbaz at a Barneys New York trunk show in Los Angeles, and a friendship blossomed immediately. “We went for coffee and we ended up spending three hours talking,” she said, noting her daughter, Scout, worked as an intern at Lanvin as a foreign exchange student.

The actress claims to have more of Elbaz’s ballet flats “than any other single person.”

Moore did a cameo in the forthcoming feature film “Rock That Body,” about a raunchy bachelorette weekend. “I don’t get a chance to do a comedy that often.” Moore is also moonlighting as a handbag adviser, having suggested to Gabriella Hearst she downsize one of her signature bag.

“I tend to love everything in miniature,” said Moore, whose first name is the French word for “half.” “I told her I’d like a demi size.”

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