Fashion wept a little yesterday when rumours – that had sprouted just hours before – were confirmed: Alber Elbaz was being pushed out of Lanvin after 14 brilliant years at the French house.
The Israeli designer, who made women fall in love with dresses all over again with his signature draped, ruffled and breathtakingly beautiful pieces, is said to have fallen out with the brand’s principals, Taiwanese magnate Wang Shaw-Lan and chief executive officer Michele Huiban, following disagreements in the business’ direction.
According to WWD, he was unhappy about a lack of “clear strategy and targeted investment, and about compromising the image of the brand in Asia by splashing the Lanvin name on products not typically associated with a luxury name”.
The fashion industry publication also reported that Elbaz’s design team was told of his departure just as the media broke the news, and moments before a Lanvin general meeting.
It said, “It is understood members of Elbaz’s design team were informed of his exit prior to the general meeting, and told they would have to complete the pre-fall collection without him.
“Many employees were said to be in tears at the meeting, rallying behind their creative leader and demanding an explanation from the company on its future plans.”
Lanvin itself issued a brief statement on the end of the partnership, saying it would like to thank the designer “for the chapter he has written”.
In a farewell letter, Elbaz pointedly noted, “I wish to express my gratitude and warm thoughts to all those who have worked with me passionately on the revival of Lanvin over the last 14 years… Together, we have met the creative challenge presented by Lanvin and have restored its radiance and returned it to its rightful position among France’s absolute luxury fashion houses. I wish the house of Lanvin the future it deserves among the best French luxury brands.”
As with all big-name departures, the looming question is: What’s next? In Lanvin’s case, the possibilities being thrown up include up-and-comers such as Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Joseph Altuzarra and Asia’s own Zhang Huishan.
And Elbaz? Rumour has it that he may take Raf Simons’ recently-vacated position at Dior. Hold tight to your seats, now, for another round of designer musical chairs!
Photo: WWD/Giovanni Giannoni