Alber Elbaz Is Leaving Lanvin

Photo: WWD/REX Shutterstock.
Update: In an official resignation announcement, Alber Elbaz writes that his departure is "on the decision of the company's majority shareholder," confirming a tweet by The New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman this afternoon. Elbaz shared very heartfelt sentiments about his lengthy stint at the brand — as well as some interesting words about its fiscal future: "I wish the house of Lanvin the future it deserves among the best French luxury brands, and hope that it finds the business vision it needs to engage in the right way forward." Read the full announcement, tweeted by The Wall Street Journal's Christina Binkley, here.

Lanvin issued a statement later this afternoon: "We would like to thank [Elbaz] for the chapter he has written in the House’s over 125 year history. The House of Lanvin confirms the implementation of its corporate strategic plan to continue making the oldest of the Parisian fashion houses, the Ambassador of French luxury’s excellence, in the independent spirit of its founder Jeanne Lanvin."

This story was originally published October 28, 2015 at 1 p.m.

Mere days after Raf Simons bid farewell to Dior, there's been another surprising departure from a major French fashion house. Lanvin is losing its charismatic, whimsical creative director, Alber Elbaz.

Often lauded for the transformative effect he's had on the label's aesthetic and sales, the Israeli designer has been at the 126-year-old French house since 2001 — an impressive stint in an industry where talent-shuffling is not rare. In fact, staying anywhere for more than a decade is an exceptional feat in fashion, accomplished by a select few, like Nicolas Ghesquière, who spent 15 years at Balenciaga before leaving in 2013. (Karl Lagerfeld is the ultimate exception: He's spent half a century designing at Fendi and has held his role at Chanel for a whopping 32 years.)

Elbaz may be parting ways with Lanvin due to disagreements with the brand's owner, Shaw-Lan Wang, and CEO, Michèle Huiban, according to WWD, which first broke the news. The trade publication also reports that Elbaz's design team was notified about the farewell this morning, and that a meeting for all Lanvin staffers was held at the company's Paris headquarters this afternoon. Elbaz reportedly holds a stake in the brand, which Business of Fashion reports could be as large as 10%.

It's also possible that Elbaz wants a breather from the aggressive pace of the fashion industry today — an increasingly common refrain among top designers. Elbaz won the "Superstar" award at the annual Fashion Group International (FGI) Night Of Stars event less than a week ago, and the acceptance speech he delivered feels awfully ominous in hindsight.

"We designers started as couturiers with dreams, with intuitions and with feelings... Then we became creative directors, so we have to create, but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers, making sure it looks good in the pictures," Elbaz said at the FGI event. "The screen has to scream, baby; that's the rule. And loudness is the new thing. Loudness is the new cool, and not only in fashion. I prefer whispering. I think it goes deeper and lasts longer."

There's already speculation that Elbaz could succeed Simons at Dior, but even if he doesn't, we can expect a rousing round of creative director musical chairs with those two major French fashion houses currently devoid of design leadership. "Are there any other designers that would like to make an announcement?" V magazine tweeted this morning adding fuel to the fire.

The brand alluded to the news with an Instagram photo of Elbaz at his most recent show, captioned with a trio of heart emoji and the word "Forever," and a Lanvin spokesperson confirmed Elbaz's departure with Refinery29 this afternoon.
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