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Alber Elbaz at The Vogue Festival – “I don’t like bitches”

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Image courtesy of Vogue.com

An hour with Alber Elbaz and we're totally taken with him. The warm, talented and extremely funny design head of Lanvin made the slightly extortionate ticket price for the Vogue Festival session entirely worthwhile with his anecdotes, industry insights and clever jokes.

Whether he was talking about being a complete technophobe - "The few times I send emails to people it always ends up in a fight" - or his weakness for a certain reality starlet "I love Kim Kardashian. I watch her every night on E!" he was entertaining, insightful and everyone in the room seemed to wish the Q&A with Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman could go on much longer than an hour. 

 

Vogue Festival

Elbaz’s view of the changing fashion industry was particularly interesting and his idea that design is ‘moving into meetings’ i.e. becoming somewhat stiff and corporate, rather than being the realm of experimentation that it once was. He was insistent on the fact that there is a need for experimentation, and for failure, and that real fashion evolution cannot take place in meeting rooms. However, whilst clearly of the old school when it comes to fashion design, he has the kind of curious and expansive mind that craves evolution and he’s no stranger to the label making use of technology in its vision, even if he personally has an aversion to all things technological.

Elbaz talked about his life in fashion and how he had gotten to a point pre-Lanvin where he wanted to do something else entirely, such as be a doctor. It was interesting to hear him talk about the post YSL crisis, but he is clearly pretty comfortable with all that ancient history now, even answering one slightly cheeky question from the audience about what he thought about Hedi Slimane’s work on the rebranded Saint Laurent.

It was clear that Elbaz is something of an obsessive – appreciating his work when a new collection is shown and then hating it the next morning, which interestingly is what he said provides him with the motivation to start the next one. However, he has obviously found his niche and is very at home being in control of important elements such as being able to preserve his own design freedom to make his beautiful ‘seamless clothes.’ 

Despite being in a room with several hundred others and with a sea of smart phones lit up between us and Mr Elbaz, somehow this Q&A felt like an entirely personal experience. This clever, witty, headstrong man might well have been one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, but we’d say he’s also one of the most inspirational.

 

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