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Alber Elbaz is leaving Lanvin in latest designer shuffle

Alber Elbaz

Lanvin’s artistic director, Alber Elbaz, attends the brand’s Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear runway show on Oct. 1 in Paris.

(Miguel Medina / AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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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.

For more fashion news, follow me @Booth on Twitter.


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