PARIS — In an unprecedented format, Palais Galliera celebrated Alber Elbaz in an exhibit that recreated the collaborative show that was presented as a tribute to the legendary designer last October 2021.
After Elbaz passed away, AZ Factory, the fashion startup he had founded, conceptualized a show in his honor with 46 participating houses and designers who were more than happy to create pieces inspired by the man and his prolific legacy. “Love brings Love” recreates the show by immersing visitors in the full runway experience with video, lights, effects and music that made the evening a most memorable moment in fashion history.
This was always a dream of Alber, after all, when he was inspired by the 1945 travelling exhibition, Théâtre de la Mode, that featured 60 Paris fashion couturiers like Cristobal Balenciaga, Jeanne Lanvin and Pierre Balmain who helped raise funds for survivors of World War II and to help revive the fashion industry. Elbaz wanted the ultimate show that his co-designers would design “to create love, beauty and hope” for the world to enjoy.
The title of the exhibit is actually taken from one of Elbaz’s mantras, “presenting a contrast to the isolation felt during the pandemic, thanks to the communal spirit of the designers who worked together to celebrate the memory of one of their most brilliant colleagues.”
Alber’s dreams are now in the hands of the team he left behind at AZ Factory, those whom he always saw as family.
In designing their tribute pieces for Elbaz, designers shared their thoughts while doing them, which helped to appreciate them more: Sarah Burton, as creative director for Alexander McQueen, talked about the love of creating clothes that she always shared with Elbaz — “how the process of creation — the toiles, early fittings and prototypes were more important even than the finished piece. He created his collections during fittings, working close to the model, slashing and draping fabric directly on the body.”
Demna, who respected Elbaz’s principles of design like “creating maximal volume using minimal seams,” applied this in a nylon taffeta cape dress for Balenciaga with matching panta-shoes in pink, one of the late designer’s favorite colors.
Donatella Versace also admired how Elbaz played with volume and adopted it in conjunction with his signature draped sleeves, marrying his style codes with the Versace silhouette in a bright fuchsia color that she says “speaks of Alber’s personality: uplifting, vibrant and joyful, with the dazzling crystals lighting up a room, just like the man himself.”
Vivienne Westwood, in creating a celebratory floral piece, recounts how every time she thinks of Alber, she remembers how “he adored women and wrapped them in the most glorious fabrics, frills and cocktail dresses, featherlight and crisp silks and taffetas. He loved flowers and beautiful women and beautiful things.”
Daniel Lee for Bottega Veneta says he “draws inspiration from the joy that Alber cherished during his career,” prompting him to design a dress with kinetic pearl fringes in a delightful shade of parakeet green, a recurrent color throughout Alber’s work and a favorite of Daniel’s.
Jonathan Anderson also channeled this joy for Loewe in a silk-cotton jacquard check dress with an oversized flounce detail, “drawing inspiration from his juxtaposition of ready-to-wear and haute couture in a playful trapeze silhouette where textile and construction combine to celebrate both casualness and couture savoir-faire.”
Charaf Tajer designed an easy chiffon dress in a pastel ombre for Casablanca. Effortlessly draping over the female body, he says it “intended to be a celebration of Alber’s signature joie de vivre and lifelong passion for all women, to feel happy and confident.”
Bruno Sialelli, who designed a voluminous floating piece for Lanvin where Elbaz spent most of his career (2001-2015), can’t forget the SS 2008 collection “because of three magnificent dresses in yellow, red and green, blown like sailing boats and bringing the most fabulous women from the runway to an ethereal destination.”
His clothes’ transformative qualities also brought designers to other worlds. Iris Van Herpen remembers “the sparks in his eyes when we spoke and laughed about this vast open space of possibilities. He was always transcending his dreams, a mindset I will cherish, reminding myself to keep questioning.”
Alber’s dreams are now in the hands of the team he left behind at AZ Factory, those whom he always saw as family. They had a good start by organizing the unforgettable tribute show with pieces that the world could better appreciate up close at the exhibit.
They now look to a bright future as they reminisce about how Alber taught them that “no dream is too big and no detail too small,” vowing “to stay determined, to create with intent, and to impose meaning and purpose on everything that we do. We will forever cherish your stories, your generosity, your humble spirit, your love, your joy.”