Paris Fashion Week closes with a tribute to the late stylist.
“Love Brings Love” was the mantra of Alber Elbaz, a Moroccan naturalized Israeli designer, who died in April at the age of 59 from Covid-19.
Before his death, he conceived AZ Factory, caressing the idea of recreating the Thèatre de la Mode, an extraordinary project of 1945 that brought together 60 important Parisian haute couture stylists, as well as milliners, hair stylists, and designers of accessories, to dress up a series of doll-sized figures.
At the time, Thèatre de la Mode became a traveling exhibition around the world, vividly demonstrating to an ecstatic audience that Parisian fashion had survived the difficulties of the German occupation, continuing to be the reference for technique and imagination.
This same idea was cherished by Alber Elbaz, who wanted to bring together the best talents of the fashion industry around a concept of “family”, celebrating love, beauty and the hope for a future where trust and respect will reign.
At the closing of this Paris Fashion Week, in front of a crowd of family members and friends, forty five designers gathered at the Carreau du Temple to celebrate Elbaz’s talent, honoring the legend of a man we lost too soon.
Among them, Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, Pier Paolo Piccioli of Valentino, Alessandro Michele of Gucci, Kim Jones of Fendi, Bruno Sialelli of Lanvin, Nicolas Ghesquière of Louis Vuitton women’s division, Riccardo Tisci of Burberry, Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior, John Galliano of Maison Margiela, Virgil Abloh for Off-White and Louis Vuitton men’s division, and Rick Owens, Jean Paul Gautier and the Elbaz team designer at AZ Factory.
“We wanted to find a way to celebrate Alber’s spirit”, Elbaz’s longtime partner Alex Koo explained during a press preview. “It’s beautiful to see how each designer revealed a different aspect of Alber. It was a true act of love towards him and his big heart “.
Some designers wanted to pay homage to Alber, studying his life and what he created in the many collaborations he had with the Maisons: South African Thebe Magugu, for example, was inspired by an autumn 1997 dress that he designed in his two years of work at Guy Laroche, while Pieter Muller of Alaia imagined a shiny scarlet sheath dress with hearts recalling the stylistic codes of Geoffrey Beene, for whom Alber worked for almost seven years.
It is not surprising that the heart sign was a leitmotiv for other designers who attended the evening: Jean-Paul Gaultier designed a couture dress made up of three-dimensional ruby red hearts, Alessandro Michele created a purple dress with a double shaped bra, Viktor & Rolf framed red and pink hearts on the sleeves and the skirt of a white ball gown.
Other designers have chosen to immortalize Alber Elbaz’s iconic look, the one consisting of the characteristic bow tie, barrel-shaped jackets and cropped trousers at the ankle. Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing depicted it on the bodice of his white satin evening dress, Bruno Sialelli from Lanvin evoked it on a flowing silk dress with a giant portrait on the back, and Dries van Noten decorated the front of an evening coat with a portrait of the late designer.
Many others have drawn on the archive of his drawings:
Daniel Roseberry of Schiaparelli celebrated his particular affinity for bijoux and joy in explosive volumes; Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia did the same by creating a shocking pink nylon taffeta opera coat, creating maximum volume using almost imperceptible stitching; Pier Paolo Piccioli creating a magnificent ball gown in a hot pink color, while Sarah Burton by Alexander McQueen shared the craftsmanship, another Elbaz passion, in an embroidered mini coat.
The show ended with a powerful tribute from the AZ Factory style office, which took up the iconic looks of the founder, while Amber Valletta interpreted Alber Elbaz’s walk on the platform wearing a jacket cut to the same model as the one she usually wore. A finale where a myriad of heart-shaped confetti mingled with the tearful eyes of the participants…