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Five Life Lessons We Learned From Alber Elbaz

Alber Elbaz and Alina Cho Photo:

Alber Elbaz and Alina Cho

If the number of editors, buyers, and industry insiders who turned up at Alber Elbaz’s talk with Alina Cho at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night is any indication, Elbaz might just be fashion’s favorite designer. Not only are his creations at Lanvin among the most celebrated, but Elbaz himself is one of the most thoughtful, insightful, and open designers working today. And while his conversation with Cho covered everything from Resort collections (“Every designer in the world I know hates doing Pre!” he laughed) to his love of the Kardashians (“I’m watching the Kardashians, and I’m eating pizza, and I’m having the time of my life”), it was his universal life lessons that left the most impact. Find Elbaz’s best pieces of advice, in all their quotability, below.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Backseat to Your Work Sometimes

“I think that when you see too much of a dress, it’s not a good dress. And when you see too much of a designer, it means that it’s not too much of a good piece and they need to do too much publicity to push it forward. So I think it’s OK to move away, and to wear black sometimes, and it’s OK to disappear,” he began, adding, “It’s OK to make people miss you sometimes because then they are excited to see you when you say, ‘Honey, I’m home!’”

Love Is All You Need

After being fired from Yves Saint Laurent by Tom Ford and taking a year-and-a-half sabbatical to travel the globe, Elbaz found himself back in Paris with a job at Lanvin. “It was after a year and a half that I was traveling the world, but it was really interesting because when I came back, I thought that now I’m going to make it different, and I’m going to only work with people I love, and I’m going to do only things that I love, and I’m going to do it only for women that I love or want to know or want to love,” he explained of his new missive. Later, while recounting a story about a friend who often wears Lanvin and finds that men fall in love with her when she wears it, the designer offered, “I wish that next time you wear Lanvin, you fall in love.”

Perfection Is Overrated

During the talk, Elbaz denounced the idea of perfection several times, telling afterward, “I’m not digesting very well perfection. I like this imperfect situation. I’m scared of perfection, so I think that women of Lanvin, women that are older and younger, that are less heavy and more heavy—I think that I do my job and I let it go and it is their choice to wear it. I can only make the roses, but they have to make the bouquet.”

Don’t Believe Everything You See on Instagram

“I’m looking at ‘Just a simple dinner’ [on Instagram], so you have mozzarella, and even the mozzarella looks sexy!” Elbaz quipped, to much laughter. While he doesn’t have a personal account, he checks the platform regularly, though the seeming perfection on it is “de-pressing! So depressing.” He elaborated, “Sometimes I really feel that I’m parallel to the real thing,” adding, “I’m going to work and just make sure that other people have a glamorous life.”

Go for a Walk

Recounting a text message he received from his sister, Elbaz said, “When you walk, look into five different directions. Look straight because you have to look forward, look back because you have to remember where you’re coming from. Look to the sides to see who are the people that are going to be next to you if you need them. Look down to make sure you don’t step on anyone, and look up because you have to remember that someone protects us. This is, maybe, what my life is all about.”

—Steff Yotka,

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