In the latest fashion designer shuffle, Alber Elbaz is departing Lanvin, a company spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
Elbaz is leaving the French fashion house after 14 years. And the timing, just a week after Raf Simons announced he is leaving Dior, is stoking rumors that Elbaz could be that house’s next designer.
At Lanvin, Elbaz gave a sleepy label a modern identity and must-have status.
His brand of imperfect glamour -- fraying lace edges, exposed zippers, grosgrain ribbon and pearl trim -- was at its most potent about five years ago, when he elevated the humble T-shirt to near-couture standards, and helped turn Lanvin’s satin sneakers into “It” shoes, even for First Lady Michelle Obama.
Back then, his aesthetic was much imitated, even by stores such as J. Crew and Ann Taylor. Lanvin also had a successful collaboration with H&M in 2010.
Elbaz’s cocktail dresses and gowns have a modern femininity that has made them popular with Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Emma Stone and Meryl Streep.
Lanvin was founded in 1909 by Jeanne Lanvin, a milliner turned children’s and women’s dressmaker who had 1,000 employees in the 1920s. After she died in 1946, the business was turned over to her family, then to a French holding company and, eventually, in 1996 to L’Oreal.
Despite a successful string of fragrances and licenses, the label was largely dormant until August 2001, when Lanvin was taken private by an investment group led by Taiwanese media magnate Shaw-Lan Wang.
Elbaz, who had worked previously at Geoffrey Beene, Guy Laroche and Yves Saint Laurent, was hired a couple of months later. When he was appointed artistic director of Lanvin, he was given carte blanche to revamp everything, including the packaging.
He is a beloved figure in the fashion industry for his warm, self-deprecating humor, and his whimsical approach to fashion, including his well-known sketches, which have adorned a variety of items in the Lanvin collection, including T-shirts, playing cards and notebooks.
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