On the closing night of Paris Fashion Week, more than 40 designers came together to pay tribute to Alber Elbaz. The show, titled ‘Love Brings Love’ was held at Le Carreau du Temple in Paris and gathered hundreds of leaders in retail, business, and politics.
Alber Elbaz passed away last year due to Covid-19 and his death was greeted with outpouring grief and sadness across the industry. People always appreciated his empathy and generosity, but most importantly, his respect and love for women.
Various designers expressed their love for the couturier and explained why they all decided to take part. Giambattista Valli said “He was a deeply kind person, and generous – one of a kind. That’s why we are all here. He’s still very much alive”. Piccioli commented, “This show is about Alber’s connection to us all. He was the heart and soul of fashion”. Alex Koo told the crowd “His dream was to reunite the best talents of our industry to celebrate love, beauty, and hope. And tonight, his dream becomes a reality.”
In 2001, Alber Elbaz started his 14-year tenure at Lanvin and decided to leave in 2015. After a brief hiatus from the industry, in 2019 he announced the launch of AZ Factory in partnership with Richemont. The new project was meant to symbolize his return to the fashion world but also the people he loved, manifesting his approach to design and innovation.
AZ Factory’s show, ‘Love Brings Love’, fully encapsulated this – it paid homage to Elbaz as a person but also to his craft and dreams. The runway collection was inspired by his legacy and was modeled after ‘Théâtre de la Mode’ – a Parisian touring exhibition which brought together over 60 French couturiers, in 1945, to celebrate creativity, solidarity, and prestige in the wake of World War II – a show the couturier hoped to recreate someday.
Participating designers included major names such as Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior, Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga, Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Dries Van Noten, Alessandro Michele of Gucci, but also emerging labels – Tomo Koizumi, Christopher John Rogers, and Thebe Magugu. The looks were shown in alphabetical order and referenced different points in Elbaz’s carrier. Some designers chose to base their creations on Alber’s signature designs, others referenced his personal playful and colorful fashion sense and others even went as far as directly depicting him on their clothes.
Dries Van Noten showed an elaborate intarsia portrait of Elbaz on the front of his scarlet asymmetric coat and Olivier Rousteing incorporated a 3D cartoon-like portrait of the designer on the bodice of his white satin evening dress.
Donatella Versace recreated at his iconic draped sleeves with a statement fuchsia glittery dress. Daniel Roseberry of Schiaparelli celebrated Elbaz’s affinity for jewelry and explosive volumes; he went with a black dress with a golden breastplate and half-face mask and an exaggerated Medici collar. Demna Gvasalia also concentrated on the idea of volume, displaying a hot pink nylon taffeta opera coat with a bow-shaped collar.
A heart leit-motif also dominated the show. Designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Alessandro Michele or Viktor&Rolf, offered designs composed of layers of enormous hearts, a purple gown with a double heart-shaped brassiere and a trench coat transformed into a ballgown, framed with grading hearts in an ombre of pink and red tones.
The show closed with AZ Factory’s own tribute to Alber Elbaz. Amber Valetta embodied the designer in a jacket cut from the same pattern Elbaz’s team originally created for him. This, featured embroidered images of his most iconic clothes, reminding us all of his legacies.
‘Love Brings Love’ was a heart-warming reflection of the fashion community, but also an exuberant display of innovation, design, and extravagance, a true spectacle!
Words by Alexandra Yassin
Photo Credit: Dries Van Noten/Gucci/Jean Paul Gaultier