In 2002, I attended fashion week as a young fashion journalist. Back then, getting jostled out of my seat, sitting on narrow steps along an aisle or even standing in the back row with my view blocked by a dozen shoulders was de rigueur. In addition, I had to run from show to show and, once I reached the entrance, I had to push and elbow my way through hordes of people. Despite all this, there is one show from that year that I remember vividly. It took place on a wet afternoon and it was Alber Elbaz’s second Lanvin show after his much talked about debut in 2001.
I was deep within the photographer’s pit. (This journalist was told to sit on the steps despite having a seat number, so I wrangled a spot in the best seat in the house.) The chandelier-lined runway came alive and a hush descended over the crowd as a Chinese model with the most angular of features opened the show (she made quite an impression as inclusivity wasn’t a topic of discussion back then). Her hair had been pulled back into a top knot and she was wearing what looked like a low-slung bejewelled necklace that shimmered under an unlined mocha-coloured trench coat with unfinished edges.
A series of jaw-dropping yet masterfully draped dresses, layered over sheer slips decorated with crystals and sequins, took everyone’s breath away. I could hear a smattering of applause from the audience (something we no longer experience as most people are too busy snapping away with their phone’s camera) as the show pushed our sensorial experience into overdrive.
The changes in each season could be seen in the colours of the dresses as earthy tones of autumn browns made way for a series of closing looks in mustard, aubergine and coral. That brought the show to a standing ovation as Elbaz, with his hand in his pocket, took his bow at the end of the catwalk in the most charming of fashion.
I remember leaving the show feeling completely floored by the exceptional beauty of Elbaz’s creations. No words could literally describe what I had just experienced and since that very day, Elbaz, with his floaty charmeuse drape dresses, unfinished hemlines, cascading grosgrain ribbons, utilitarian undertones and baubles of crystals—and not forgetting his infectious sense of humor—have made him one of the most beloved designers of our time.
Here, we look back at some joyful moments (that continues to put a smile on my face) by the affable, and ever-so-endearing, Mr Alber Elbaz.
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The comedic side of Alber Elbaz
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Elbaz making his debut at Lanvin in 2002
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Opening the Lanvin spring 2003 show with a Chinese model
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Taiwanese celebrity Chi-ling Lin took the catwalk at Lanvin in 2005
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Glam robo-woman from Lanvin’s spring 2007 campaign
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Elbaz’s one-shoulder dress that ignited a trend back in autumn 2008
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Exposed zippers are part of Elbaz's design ethos as seen here for Lanvin spring 2009
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Lanvin x H&M’s cheerful collages in 2010
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"I wanted women to fly!" exclaims Elbaz at the Lanvin Spring 2011 show
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A celebration of inclusivity at Lanvin back in 2011
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The infectious dancing video campaign featuring Raquel Zimmerman and Karen Elson for Lanvin’s autumn/winter 2011 campaign
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It’s all love at Lanvin’s autumn 2013 show
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Elbaz designed a dress for Minnie Mouse in 2013 for the 20th anniversary of Disneyland Paris
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Style icon Pharrell Williams pushing boundaries (seen here with his wife Helen Lasichanh) at the Oscars in 2014 wearing a Lanvin tuxedo with shorts
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Popcorn and champagne always at the Lanvin show
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Cocktail dressing à la Elbaz
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The infamous parachute silk dress that Carrie Bradshaw wore casually in Sex and the City as a night gown
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It’s all in the family: A mother and daughter campaign back in 2015 featuring the very animated Pat Cleveland and her daughter Anna Cleveland
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Tod’s Happy Moments collection by Alber Elbaz
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