Israeli designer Alber Elbaz was buried today at the Holon cemetery, next to his parents. Despite this being a time of political turmoil for Israel, the funeral made immediate headlines.
A public ceremony was held before the burial, and broadcast live by the popular Israeli news website Ynet. Elbaz’s coffin could be seen wrapped in a tallith, the traditional prayer shawl, and was placed on view for the gathered crowd, who sheltered from the sun under white parasols.
His life partner of 28 years, Alex Koo, arrived from Paris and was joined by Elbaz’s friends and family. All were welcomed to the cemetery with a red rose and a white pin with black eyes, the logo for Elbaz’s latest fashion project, AZ Factory. A tearful Koo, dressed in a silk shirt by AZ Factory under a black jacket, spoke at the ceremony, his voice breaking: “My heart is simply shattered to pieces, I’m so lost without you next to me.”
“Farewell from a legend,” and “The nicest man in the world: Friends and family said their goodbyes to Alber Elbaz,” were among headlines in local media. Israel fell in love with the designer, charmed by the story of the boy who came from the sleepy, small town of Holon, and went on to conquer the world with his exceptional talent and amiable personality. Though born in Casablanca, Morocco, and living abroad for most of his adult life, to the Israeli press Elbaz was seen as “one of them,” a man who never lost the hint of an Israeli accent and Mediterranean warmth.
“He was one of us and was the best of us,” Israeli journalist Lisa Perez wrote in the daily Haaretz. She was also Elbaz’s friend, and asked that his story not be framed simply as a local success, but instead as the triumph of a multi-faceted identity: A French resident who was also an Israeli citizen with Moroccan roots, who was born on the periphery and became a citizen of the world.
Since news broke of his death on April 24 from COVID-19, Israeli media have proudly relayed kind words about “The genius boy of Holon,” and quoted notable Israeli designers, like Gideon Oberson.
Israeli journalist and filmmaker Gal Ochovsky hosted the short ceremony, opening it with the words of French President Emmanuel Macron, who said Elbaz “knew how to make French elegance shine all over the world.”