Albert Elbaz was born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1961. He immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of ten, and grew up in Holon. After serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, he studied at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan. His life partner is Alex Koo, Lanvin's director of marketing.
In 1987, Elbaz moved to New York City, worked for two years for a manufacturer of mother-of-the-bride clothing. He went on to work for Geoffrey Beene for seven years. He says he was influenced by Beene's rejection of trends and masterful drape and fit. "It was a very beautiful relationship... Our best dialogue was not in words," Elbaz has reminisced
In 1997, Elbaz left Beene and, through retailer Dawn Mello, was hired by the firm of Guy Laroche. But, by the time of Elbaz's arrival, the Laroche enterprise had become overly conservative and lackluster. Even so, Elbaz was able to update the collection and somewhat enhance the image of the firm, whose activities at the time included the management of 15 boutiques and 70 license agreements worldwide. However, he departed within a year, 1998, and began designing ready-to-wear women's clothing for Yves Saint-Laurent, because Saint-Laurent himself wished to withdraw from his hands-on design of pret-a-porter. In the position, Elbaz's talent was recognized, and he would have become the head designer of the house when Saint-Larent retired. This was not to happen because the Gucci Group purchased YSL Rive Gauche, the ready-to-wear label, and, hence, Gucci design director Tom Ford dismissed Elbaz after 3 collections. Elbaz then began working for Krizia in Italy and designed a well-received inaugural collection.
In October 2001, he was appointed artistic director of Lanvin in Paris. Lanvin is the oldest extant fashion house worldwide, having been founded by Jeanne Lanvin, who began making dresses in 1909 and millinery earlier. In August 2001, the company had been purchased by investor group Harmonie S.A., led by Mrs. Shaw-Lan Wang, a Taiwanese media magnate, who hired Elbaz. 2006, Elbaz introduced new packaging for the fashion house, featuring a light forget-me-not blue color, a favorite shade which Lanvin purportedly had seen in a Fra Angelico fresco. There are shopping bags, imprinted with Paul Iribe's 1907 illustration of Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite, and new shoe boxes much like antique library files, tied with black ribbons, to emphasize the precious nature of the product.
Elbaz's simple and feminine clothing — similar to the sporty, casual character of Lanvin's 1920s outfits— has been lauded by the fashion press.
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