He’s the most copied man on the planet, but Alber Elbaz’s sketch for Emirates Woman, which Lanvin’s creative genius created exclusively for our May cover, was delightfully original. All too often our heroes turn out to be a disappointment when we meet them in the flesh, but the polar opposite was true in the case of Alber Elbaz, the brains behind Lanvin. In town to present his latest, exclusive-to-the-Middle East collection, Emirates Woman were invited to accompany the design wizard on his journey to The Dubai Mall. During these precious moments, Alber not only exceeded our expectations, he was testament to the fact that it is possible to be both highly talented and supremely successful, but also refreshingly down-to-earth.
Draped in silk and wearing his signature dress-shoes with not a sock in sight, Alber’s opening gambit was, “You can ask me anything you want, just my weight – don’t go there,” before insisting that we just enjoy our time together.
The creative director (a title he hates) of Lanvin, the world’s oldest running couture fashion house, Alber hails beauty as his inspiration. He told us: “I don’t like cool people, I love beautiful people and my job as a designer – maybe more than anything else – is to help you to feel comfortable and to be beautiful and to help you to dream. That is all I do. I don’t just do dresses.”
The designer of dreams is thus often referred to as an artist. His illustrations have become synonymous with the brand along with his dramatic details on his designs. Oversized ruffles, watery silks, rough edges and exposed zips make for collections that can be donned throughout the decades. Having no time for fads, his designs stand the test of time, and he puts it down to his sixth sense. “Intuition is the base. It’s almost like in a relationship, in a marriage; if there is no love there is no marriage. In luxury if there is no intuition there is no longer luxury.”
Alber on his dream of being a doctor: “My dream was to become a doctor and I think I look more like a doctor than a fashion designer.”
Alber on the inspiration for his Middle Eastern collection: “I asked myself what I’m all about so I went back to my roots in Morocco and started to think about the kaftan and jalabiya and the importance of the tassle. I thought, how I can make it modern, contemporary and relevant to today’s woman?”
Alber on comfort: “You should allow yourself to go out in a restaurant and to have dessert and to sit in a car without everything hurting. I work for women.
Five things you didn’t know about Alber Elbaz
* Both his parents worked with colours – his father was a colourist and his mother a painter.
* The Lanvin logo is of a mother and daughter out of his love and respect for women.
* Alber is a workaholic and is in his office from 9am to 10 or 11pm every day – including many Saturdays and Sundays.
* The Lanvin team have a group lunch together every day when they are working in the atelier.
* He doesn’t have much time for technology – “”I don’t tweet, and I don’t Instagram, and I don’t have an email address, and I don’t drive.”
What you will learn from the May issue
* Why there are two schools of thought on Bolivia’s laws which allows children as young as 10 to work.
* What books you should be stocking up on for your summer holidays and what the literati are reading.
* Exactly what orthorexia is and why more and more people are struggling with symptoms of it.
* Which summer skin savers should be lining your bathroom cabinets.
* Why Louis Vuitton accessories could fast become your best friend for your summer holidays.
For the full interview plus Emirates Woman’s fashion shoot showcasing Lanvin’s latest Middle Eastern collection, buy the May issue of Emirates Woman, out on news stands now.