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Alber Elbaz Leaves Lanvin: Is Fashion Moving Too Fast For Designers?

Less than a week after Raf Simons exited Dior, another titan is leaving a historic French fashion house. Women’s Wear Daily reports that creative director Alber Elbaz has officially left Lanvin after 14 years. He wishes the house “the future it deserves.” Despite the diplomatic official statement, WWD surmised that Elbaz’s departure was a result of disagreements between the designer and Lanvin’s owner, Shaw-Lan Wang, and CEO, Michéle Huiban. Like Dior, the label has yet to announce a replacement. Rumors are flying that Elbaz may be in talks to take Simons’ old job.

While revenue has fallen recently, Lanvin under Elbaz reached a sales peak of $276.3 million in a year, mostly due to the Israeli designer’s vision. WWD called his reign at the house “stellar,” and we couldn’t agree more. His figure-friendly, draped wares are popular amongst celebrities and normals alike, and we will miss them. As critic Robin Givhan wrote today in the Washington Post, “Elbaz has always been on [women’s] side: admiring, commiserating, cheering. Fashion needs Elbaz’s aesthetic – but more important, women deserve it.”

Lanvin Spring 2016. Photo by Sonny Vandevelde.
Lanvin Spring 2016. Photo by Sonny Vandevelde.

Elbaz, like Simons, has recently expressed frustration with the extraordinary speed (beautifully detailed in a recent WWD piece) with which fashion operates these days. Five days ago, he gave a speech at the Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars, where he lamented the need for designers to always make a splash on Instagram, and to host more and more each shows each year.  “We started as couturiers, with dreams, with intuition, with feeling,” he said. “We thought, What do women want? What do women need? What can I do for a woman to make her life better and easier? How can I make a woman more beautiful? That is what we used to do. Then we became ‘creative directors,’ so have to create, but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers, creating a buzz, making sure that it looks good in the pictures. The screen has to scream, baby. That’s the rule. And loudness is the new thing.”

Loudness is the thing, and lately, more and more of it is required. Collections that go on sale between the major seasons gained more traction around 2010. They’re considered more wearable than Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, and tend to populate department stores; thus pre-fall and resort have become a regular part of the fashion calendar. Throw in menswear and couture, and you have an enormous amount of pressure on designers, with very little time between collections to brainstorm.

Simons made similar comments to Elbaz.“When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process,” he told The Cut. “You have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important.” The Cut published an essay yesterday called “Fashion Is Moving Too Fast, and It’s Killing Creativity.” Writer Véronique Hyland highlighted how in addition to Simons, designers like Ann Demeulemeester, Jil Sander, and John Galliano were burned out by intense pressure and not having enough time to let their ideas percolate.

“Creativity and vision are finite, and they’re not renewable resources,” said Hyland. “If we aren’t careful, they’ll disappear, along with the people who possess them.”

Lead image via Prestige Mag

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