Alber Elbaz. Photo: Supplied
A poignant tribute to late designer Alber Elbaz is set to close out the upcoming Paris fashion week. On October 5, creative directors and designers of more than 40 emerging and esteemed fashion houses will present their looks created in memory of the Morocco-born creative, who passed away at age 59 in April from Covid-19.
Photo: Courtesy of AZ Factory
The tribute show titled Love Brings Love is being organized by Elbaz’s label AZ Factory and will be livestreamed to the public. The round-up of designers has been described as “from haute couture to streetwear,” by AZ Factory chief executive officer Laurent Malecaze. “I would say it’s a large spread from very young designers to very renowned designers,” she shared with WWD. The complete lineup is yet to be revealed, however, according to sources, the runway could feature looks by Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri, Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, and Rick Owens. They will be joined by a number of looks that are being created by the AZ Factory studio and atelier for the occasion. While the tribute dresses by the enlisted houses are not being made for sale or commercial purposes, they may be exhibited by museums and foundations for public viewing in the future.
AZ Factory. Photo: Courtesy
Promising to be an event for the fashion history books, the tribute show is also bringing together artists known to have worked with Elbaz during his career spanning more than a decade. They include hairstylist Guido Palau, makeup artist Pat McGrath, Etienne Russo of production house Villa Eugénie, stylist and editor Babeth Djian, and musician Ariel Wizman for the soundtrack. The theme of the show is inspired by Théâtre de la Mode, the touring exhibition from 1945 that brought together top Parisian fashion designers including Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, and Cristóbal Balenciaga, aiming to revive the post-World War II fashion industry.
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Alber Elbaz. Photo: Supplied
Take Valentino’s glam-rock platform boots, add Fendi’s supermodel lineup and the return of one of fashion’s most-loved designers, Alber Elbaz — here’s how Couture Fashion Week SS21 came through with the haute energy we need for 2021.
Photo: Courtesy of Fendi
Drama, decadence and a whole load of attitude — Couture Fashion Week unleashes a welcome dose of escapism at the best of times, let alone in 2021.
From Kim Jones’s romantic Fendi debut (simultaneously his first-ever womenswear show) to Chanel’s wedding-party-themed runway gathering (complete with a white horse to transport the bride) and the long-awaited return of former Lanvin creative director, Alber Elbaz — the SS21 couture runways delivered the kind of dreamlike glamour that we could all use right now.
These are the five need-to-know fashion trends from Couture Fashion Week SS21.
1. Haute reality
AZ Factory, Chanel, Schiaparelli
“I wanted to work on new technology to develop some smart fabrics with factories [to make] beautiful, purposeful, and solution-driven fashion,” Alber Elbaz told Vogue as he unveiled his new eponymous label, AZ Factory. The essence of his new design proposition? “[It] is for everyone.” The fuss-free, grounded spirit of the charismatic return to fashion was echoed elsewhere. At Chanel, Virginie Viard teamed a casual, untucked silk shirt (the sort you might be wearing with pilates pants as you read this) with a full ballerina skirt and morning-after-the-night-before sunglasses, while Schiaparelli’s Daniel Roseberry made the elasticated-waist pant the epitome of modern elegance.
2. Electric prints
How does the world’s grandest fashion week strike a rebellious note? It ushers in the jeunesse energy of new talent. Enter recent fashion graduate Charles de Vilmorin, whose explosive hand-crafted designs pay homage to couture’s more outré ambitions. As Vogue Runway’s Nicole Phelps reports, De Vilmorin painstakingly painted his textiles by hand. His adage? “You don’t need a special occasion to wear something extra.”
3. The big pink
Giambattista Valli, Armani Prive
Is it even Couture Fashion Week if there isn’t a multitude of gigantic blush gowns? We think not. The SS21 couture gospel according to Giambattista Valli? “Go big and stay home,” as he told Vogue via a video call. Valli’s plumptuous pink dresses alluded to the intoxicating effect of a bouquet of fresh peonies. Schiaparelli too fell for fuchsia, unveiling the outrageously surreal ‘earring gown’ (modelled with aplomb by Maggie Maurer), while Armani Privé made a persuasive case for matching your handbag to layers of confectionery tulle.
4. Burnished gold
Valentino, Fendi, Dior
Is our collective obsession with glowing skin crossing over into fashion? Yes — if the couture runways at Valentino, Fendi and Dior are anything to go by, a radiant wardrobe is set to be just as much a part of your beauty arsenal as a 10-step skincare regime. At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri enlisted director Matteo Garrone to once again capture the cinematic glow of her designs, which, this season, took inspiration from the mysticism and burnished feel of the historical Visconti-Sforza tarot cards. Over at Fendi, Kim Jones made the case for opulent ‘cheekbone highlighter’ hues that mirrored the all-natural luminosity of supermodel Christy Turlington, who made a surprise runway appearance as part of Jones’s friends-and-family show lineup, alongside Kate and Lila Grace Moss, Bella Hadid and Naomi Campbell.
5. 3D florals
Chanel, Giambattista Valli, Fendi
If sunny floral motifs were at one time the stuff of fashion cliche (“Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking”), the resurgence of characterful blooms made a welcome appearance in the SS21 couture collections at Chanel, Giambattista Valli and Fendi. It would be impossible to ignore the respite (and design inspiration) that nature has offered during the various lockdowns that have become an all too familiar part of daily life. As fashion shows temporarily take place virtually, or minus their usual rapturous audiences, some industry rituals have remained. Notably, the giving of enormous floral bouquets, which, through the wondrous 3D designs grown out of Paris’s hallowed ateliers, were symbolically gifted to viewers all around the world this season.
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Originally published on Vogue.co.uk
Following a five-year hiatus from fashion, Alber Elbaz is back, rejuvenated, with his new brand AZ Factory bursting with fresh ideas.
Alber Elbaz. Photo: InDigital.tv
Alber Elbaz is running late for his Zoom call. “I had technical issues!” he apologizes, his familiar face – black spectacles framed by a freshly dyed platinum coif – appearing on the screen. Considering that it’s been five years since his unceremonious departure as creative director at French fashion house Lanvin, a few minutes more is well worth the wait.
If, over the years, Elbaz didn’t altogether disappear – resurfacing every so often on fashion’s news pages to unveil varied product collaborations – his great comeback never materialized, until now. “I needed to fall in love with fashion again,” he says of his time off. “I asked questions about our métier and where we were today. I wanted to imagine the future of what would come next.” While admitting to being bored, he considers ennui a vital step to reinvigorating creativity. “The fear is that when you have done so much, you just recreate and don’t innovate,” he comments. “I listened to women and tried to understand them. How are women evolving? What changes are they traversing and what’s next?” He proposed a reset and the birth of his AZ Factory, where he positions himself as producer. “I believe in beauty,” he shares. “Beauty and comfort define modernity but purpose and hope are what I want more of,” he says of his new brand, which is backed by Swiss luxury goods holding company Richemont and occupies a floor at the Fondation Cartier in Paris.
AZ Factory rolls out with three “projects” or collections. The first is inspired by a woman’s body. “I’ve seen how women struggle with weight all their lives,” comments Elbaz. I wanted to create a smart fabric, a dress that hugs you, with areas having more compression and others where tension is released,” he continues, adding that it “looks like a sneaker.” While it is perforated for breathability like a sock sneaker, it looks more like an updated little black dress that women can finally get in and out of themselves, thanks to an embellished puller attached to the zip. The fabric was created with the support of a microfiber yarn laboratory in Spain that makes microfiber of nylon mashup with a 3D pattern for AZ Factory from a startup in Amsterdam. The technical fabric, which could best be compared to activewear, is of superior softness and stretch and can be rolled up and thrown into a suitcase, pandemic permitting. “Technology doesn’t kill the dream, it only makes me dream differently,” Elbaz states.
The clothes come in all sizes and at an accessible price point “From €350 to €1 300 – in my previous job, we had T-shirts that cost more!” remarks Elbaz. A second collection offers what the designer refers to as switchwear; the idea of going from leisure to evening wear in two minutes. Hoodies are paired with duchesse skirts and tuxedo jackets made from recycled yarn. “We’re always told we need to design for young people – I don’t understand the concept,” he notes. “It’s more democratic.” The third collection consists of pajamas to wear inside and out. Prints feature hugging – “What I missed most this year” – and kissing, though “not French kissing!” he laughs. Pointy sneakers are featured throughout and women who miss how pumps elongate a leg will be swift adopters of this silhouette that appears like an instant signature. “I’ve done my share of showing what I can do,” says Elbaz. “Now, it’s about giving women solutions and things that they wish to have in the world we are living in. ” He pauses. “My dream was always to be a doctor and now it’s a chance for me to have my laboratory – my factory – and have the time to make it happen.”
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