On Saturday, designer Alber Elbaz, best known for his spectacular rejuvenation of Lanvin from 2001 to 2015, died at age 59 from COVID-19.
His death was confirmed by Compagnie Financière Richemont, his joint venture partner in AZ Factory, his latest fashion venture.
“I have lost not only a colleague but a beloved friend,” Richemont founder and chairman Johann Rupert said in a statement. “Alber had a richly deserved reputation as one of the industry’s brightest and most beloved figures. I was always taken by his intelligence, sensitivity, generosity and unbridled creativity.”
Elbaz’s impact on the fashion industry spanned decades, having helmed Guy Laroche in Paris in 1996, which then led to designing the women’s Rive Gauche ready-to-wear collections for YSL. After being ousted from Lanvin in 2015, Elbaz took a five-year hiatus and just launched AZ Factory, hinged on solutions-driven fashions, entertainment and tech.
“To go at the height of his career with a wonderful new project having just launched makes this news more shocking and so terribly sad,” designer Manolo Blahnik told FN. “He really was one of the best in Paris, such an extraordinary and talented designer of this era. Everything he did was utterly brilliant, he contributed to the some of the best designs for Saint Laurent and elevated Lanvin to a new level in fashion. I loved his work and him as a person. I remember once having lunch at Bibendum in London with him, we had so much fun, and we laughed and laughed.”
Gherardo Felloni, Roger Vivier’s creative director, told FN, “I have always admired his work and his talent, and only recently, I had the opportunity to meet him. He was such a lovely person. I am so sorry that he left us. He has brought joy to fashion — extraordinary beauty, a light feminine touch, colorful and sophisticated as only a great fashion designer like him could do. He brought back glamour and lightness to Parisian fashion. He was a genius, a brilliant talent and today, fashion has his great heritage.”
Since the news broke, other designers, such as Stella McCartney and Michael Kors, paid tribute to Elbaz.
“He was a light like no other in the world. In fashion, his immense talent shone so bright that it tore up the conventions and wrapped a million souls in happiness when they wore his creations. I will miss you sir very, very much,” McCartney posted on Instagram.
Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli referred to Elbaz as one of fashion’s “biggest treasures.”
“I’ve lost a true, honest, special friend. When I moved my first step as a creative director he welcomed me as no other did. He was able to infuse his soul into his work by creating an aesthetic that spoke so loudly of his colourful, sparkling, and intense joy de vivre,” Picciolo said. “I will miss him, but I will find relief by admiring the legacy of his work that will remember to all of us how huge his talent was and how his vision of beauty, his human approach to fashion will always remain peerless.”
Kors wrote, “So saddened by the loss of a rare human being—brilliantly talented, funny, charming, compassionate and a true original.”
Keep scrolling to see more touching tributes from Elbaz’s fashion peers.