I was reading this interview with Alber Elbaz- designer/artistic director for Lanvin- on style.com, and found his answers both eloquent and interesting. So for those interested in his opinions and thoughts on various aspects of the fashion industry, here are some of the highlights:
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but I’ve been surprised by how passionate people are about this. Buyers, critics, designers, they all still feel that, despite the overscheduling, live fashion shows are important.
I think the problem is that we all feel we have too many of those. I think this is the major problem that we are all feeling and experiencing. And I always say that doing a collection is almost like writing a book or making a movie, and I don’t know any other industry that can produce six movies a year by the same director. That’s the thing. You cannot write six books a year. You cannot produce six movies. You can’t do six collections a year. And I think this is actually what is making fashion be the way it is today. I know a lot of people complain that there is not enough change and that fashion in the past was much more creative than today, and I think a big part of this phenomenon is that we don’t have the time to think, we don’t have the time to project, we don’t have the time to digest. I’m not talking about, like, “Oh, we need to travel for inspiration,” because I do in fact believe that the best traveling you do is from your couch while you eat potato chips. But I think we just need the time to think and to look at it again and to have another perspective.
When I go out sometimes to this kind of fashion event and I see other designers, I see that one of them has a pain in the back and the other one has a migraine and the third one is exhausted, because we are going through this process that is endless. And I think that today editors are feeling the same way, because they have to travel the world season after season and just see and write the reviews in a taxi where they don’t have the time to think about it. Whatever you see today is maybe not what you really feel tomorrow. You just have to see and shoot. And I think buyers are going through the same thing, because there was a time when they used to be staying also in the store, not just looking at computers and numbers. When you go to the doctor, you don’t want the doctor to look only at the computer, you want the doctor to look at you. And I think the buyers used to be also on the floor, looking at the customer, seeing the merchandise and how it works on the floor or doesn’t. And today they are just traveling from one collection to another, from a pre-collection in New York to a pre-collection in Paris, and it’s endless. And I do feel there is this kind of extreme fatigue that everyone is talking about and there is a need for a change.
Everyone I’ve spoken to says the designer has the hardest job.
I think so. And Miss America.
Talking about instant successes, have you followed the rise of the fashion bloggers?
I have to tell you, I love bloggers. And I’m not telling you that because I’m [trying to] bribe them. Every morning I wake up and I see the blogs. There is something very innocent. There is something very honest. You can say, OK, they didn’t have the experience of seeing things. But again it’s another medium. That’s their opinion and it’s interesting to see how politically incorrect they are. Of course, when they say, “Oh my God, I love it,” I’m extremely happy. And when they say, “Oh my God, it’s a piece of shit,” I hate it…We are living in an instant society, so everything has to be quick and everything has to be big and everything has to be now. And I think this is also a reflection of society, so it’s not something that we can sit and judge and say, well, I think it’s right or I think it’s wrong. It’s the reflection, the mirror of our society, and [the same applies] to what we are doing. We are being accused that some models are anorexic, but we as fashion designers cannot be blamed, because you know, when I talk to women around the world, rich and poor and young and old and intellectual and not, what they want to be is skinny. You ask them, what is your dream? It’s to be skinny. That’s all they want, so this is something that’s happening in the world. And you know what? Me, as a designer that is not exactly skinny, all I want is comfortable clothes. All I want is beautiful. I mean, I like gray hair, I love wrinkles. But this is me. That’s why our logo is the mother and the daughter. I always feel that I have the ability or I have the luxury to design for younger and for older and for skinnier and less skinny. I feel more versatile about it.
Do you think that our obsession with beauty and celebrity might change?
I think it’s two different things. There is an obsession with beauty, and if there’s an obsession with beauty, I want to be there, because I’m obsessed with beauty, but beauty in my own eye…But now when you talk about celebrity, that’s another issue. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t read all those celebrity magazines on airplanes. I mean, everyone I know does that, so we’re all fascinated with that. It’s kind of like the dream of the twenty-first or the twentieth century…But there I have another issue. I feel that some celebrities think that because they are famous, they can do fashion. Imagine if I want to be now a dancer. Trust me, I can’t. I can’t jump. I can’t even limp from one point to another. I feel that there is this kind of confusion. Everybody wants to do everything, everybody needs to do everything, and everybody feels that he can. And I’m still feeling that a dancer should dance and a chef should cook and a singer should sing and a designer of clothes should do clothes. Because the moment we try to do everything for ourselves, we’re becoming very mediocre in what we do, and we don’t go to extremes and we don’t touch excellence. And I prefer to touch excellence.
For the full article, click HERE.
Also, I find him and his work completely adorable.
1. I did do yoga. Yay for me!
2. Vaccination & Laser treatment is tomorrow- Shingz!
3. Lanvin never fails to disappoint. I’m a little slow on this, but it doesn’t make Lanvin’s Spring 2010 RTW Collection any less lovely. The structure and the draping, both. I think the dresses would go equally well for the party season/Fall though. I’m gonna dig up that one-shouldered dress with the frills that I bought a year ago but never wore. Suddenly, maybe the frills might be workable?
Can voluptuous fashion stay relevant in an age of austerity? Can gorgeous decoration coexist with the need for something plain and simple? Ask Alber Elbaz, a man whose recipe for reductionism and all-out gorgeousness squared the circle with a unique flourish. “Whatever’s happening now,” he said, “it’s the end of fake. What’s not real will go. What we have to do now is make life easier for women.”
To him, that meant going back to the studio with scissors and fabric and working out, first, a supreme economy of cut and design. Airy shapes in poufy gazar, duchesse satin, georgette, and cloque were crafted from single shots of color in one-shouldered tops, balloon-sleeved blouses, and shifts in which the only feature is an internal drape that adds a miraculously chic fillip to the hip line. To begin with, this calm focus on the intrinsic value of structure was shown with nude shoes, so the eye had nothing to distract it from noticing, say, the way external darts ran up the hip and into the waist of a cool pair of black pants. It was intellectual and reserved, a quintessence of Lanvin that only Elbaz can achieve.
But suddenly, just before it all turned into a sober-sided treatise in form, the other side of Elbaz’s brain kicked in. A mad blue leopard-spot dress with insane crystal-studded sunglasses and the hottest beaded and bejeweled high-heeled sandals advanced along the runway, and an outbreak of crazy high spirits took over. Ending the show with a gorgeous lineup of dresses in purple and blue fringed Lurex, crystal and knit embroidery, and random sprinklings of paillette flowers, Elbaz closed the season on a celebratory high. A counterintuitive moment, maybe, but it reflected something this designer understands as well as he does the principles of rational dressing: Even when times are dark, there’s still room for clothes to make women keel over with desire.