Alberto Elbaz was born in June 12th 1961 Casablanca, Morocco. He immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of ten and grew up in Holon. After serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, he studied at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan. His life partner is Alex Koo, Lanvin’s director of marketing.
In 1985, Elbaz moved to New York City and spent two years working for a manufacturer of mother-of-the-bride clothing. He then worked for Geoffrey Beene for seven years. He says he was influenced by Beene’s rejection of trends and masterful drape and fit. “It was a very beautiful relationship…. Our best dialogue was not in words,” Elbaz has reminisced.
In 1997, Elbaz left Beene and, through retailer Dawn Mello, was hired by the firm of Guy Laroche. But, by the time of Elbaz’s arrival, the Laroche enterprise had become overly conservative and lackluster. Even so, Elbaz was able to update the collection and somewhat enhance the image of the firm, whose activities at the time included the management of 15 boutiques and 70 license agreements worldwide. However, he departed within a year, 1998, and began designing ready-to-wear women’s clothing for Yves Saint Laurent, because Saint-Laurent himself wished to withdraw from his hands-on design of prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear). In the position, Elbaz’s talent was recognized, and he was groomed to become the head designer of the house when Saint Laurent retired. This was not to happen, because the Gucci Group purchased YSL Rive Gauche, the ready-to-wear label, and, hence, Gucci design director Tom Ford dismissed Elbaz after three collections. Elbaz instead began working for Krizia in Italy and designed a well-received inaugural collection.
In October 2001, Elbaz was appointed artistic director of Lanvin in Paris. In August 2001, the company was purchased by investor group Harmonie S.A., led by Shaw-Lan Wang, a Taiwanese media magnate, who hired Elbaz. In 2006, he introduced new packaging for the fashion house, featuring a light forget-me-not blue color, a favorite shade which Lanvin purportedly had seen in a Fra Angelico fresco. Packaging included shopping bags imprinted with Paul Iribe’s 1907 illustration of Lanvin and her daughter Marguerite, and shoe boxes designed like antique library files, tied with black ribbons to emphasize the precious nature of the product.
Elbaz illustrated the song “Lady Jane” in singer-songwriter Mika’s extended play “Songs for Sorrow.”
In 2012, Elbaz published a book of 3,000 photographs documenting the work of Lanvin.