From French Fried to French Toast

Alber Elbaz has literally gone from “French-fried” to “French toast” in just about five years. The Israeli born designer who once worked for Geoffrey Beene, was “fried” after being unceremoniously dumped from YSL about 5 years ago, after the Gucci Group bought the label and replaced him with Tom Ford. But he is now the “Toast of the Town” as head of design for Lanvin, the legendary French house that he has literally helped breathe new life into, forcing the fashion world to sit up and take notice.

While Paris collections of Nicolas Guesquiere for Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Helmut Lang, Stella McCartney, Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Phoebe Philo for Chloe, and Dries Van Noten, are amongst those who received rave reviews and were heralded as setting the tone for the season, perhaps the most universally glowing accolades from the press were heaped upon Alber Elbaz, who is truly enjoying his moment in the sun.

In her review in The New York Times on October 19, 2004, Cathy Horyn noted, “No show of the spring 2005 ready-to-wear season received such a response”(in reference to the thunderous applause Elbaz received when he took his bow at the show’s finale). And in today’s review ,”From Runway to Wardrobe: The Looks for Spring”, she singled him out- along with Jean Paul Gaultier at Hermes, as “the leading proponents of the new French chic”. WWD also observed, “anyone who is searching out that elusive Parisian je ne sais quoi need look no further than the house of Lanvin. Alber Elbaz knows what and if he could bottle the esprit of his exquisite spring collection, he’d be a gazillionaire.” Wow!

And it seems as if Alber is not only enjoying his moment in the sun, but perhaps, the last laugh. His beautiful, modern, elegant, yet youthful and uncontrived spring collection, was alas, more ‘St. Laurent’ in its mood and spirit, than the ill received stiff, overly retro and referential collection Stefano Pilati put forth in his inaugural collection for YSL just about one week ago.

Posted by Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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