Alber Elbaz Is Still Very Much Inspired By Women — & Change

In the three years since Alber Elbaz left his post at Lanvin, the French fashion house where he served as its charismatic and whimsical creative director, he’s tried his hand at a few different collaborations. There was the fragrance he made with Frederic Malle, an anniversary collection for Converse, and now, a line of bags for LeSportsac.“They did the bags and I did the sketches,” Elbaz tells Refinery29 of the range of nylon weekenders, cosmetic cases, totes, and crossbody bags. “Fashion is the industry of bags,” he explains. He took note of all of the bags he saw women carrying during his travels and it inspired him. “Everything looked so heavy-duty,” he says. “Maybe some lightness is good for women when everything is so complex. Simplicity is good.”
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Elbaz wanted to work with LeSportsac on something joyful. As the designer proved collection after collection at Lanvin, he loves to create pieces that encourage his customer to dream. “When you buy a dress for thousands of dollars, you’re not buying it because of the fabric,” he says. He knows fans of his work are buying into a dream, to become, as Elbaz put it, “that woman you are not and wish to be.” And as a designer, he says he also needs to dream: “I’m not a designer of T-shirts and jeans.”
Though, he’s not knocking the designers who are making T-Shirts and jeans or the revolving door of creative directors who seem to jump from one brand to another. Change is good, he says. “You know what I’ve realized? Change is very important. It’s very easy to continue to do what you know to do and how to do it. It’s much more complicated to it the other way.” The worst thing for designers today, Elbaz says, is to create from a place of fear. “You have to say, Why not? I’ll try that.”
The designer says he still lives in Paris but is introducing change into his own life with different masterclasses all over the world — and his collaboration with LeSportsac, priced from $30 to $190 and available now, is just the first of many.
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