It’s been almost exactly four years since Alber Elbaz’s well-documented split from Lanvin – and the world-renowned designer’s absence has been sorely felt throughout the industry. Now, the Moroccan-born visionary is returning to the world of luxury fashion as part of a new joint venture with Richemont. Named AZfashion – a shortened version of AlberelbaZfashion – Richemont described the partnership only as an “innovative and dynamic start up” in its announcement; Elbaz, in a colourful turn of phrase befitting his character, referred to it as the creation of a “dream factory”.
The 58-year-old has largely stayed away from the fashion industry since the end of his 14-year tenure at Lanvin, which he has described as his personal tragedy. Instead, he told Vogue earlier this year, he took the opportunity “to look at things from a different angle, not to have this daily stress – to do things only when I want to, and with whomever I want to”. Among the limited projects he’s been involved with recently? A collection of shoes and leather goods for Tod’s, released this summer and inspired by his “observations on the street”. As he put it, “I looked at women and what they need, what they want and how can we mix the dream with the reality… Luxury is to be free.” With his reference to AZfashion as a space where he will be “developing focus on developing solutions for women of our times,” one can assume the experience was one he found particularly inspiring.
Richemont has yet to comment on whether AZfashion will be a fully-fledged brand, let alone whether Elbaz will be designing collections, but “I was again struck by his creativity and insight,” Johann Rupert, chairman of Richemont, said of the decision to partner with Elbaz. “His talent and inventiveness, with his sensitivity toward women and their wellbeing, will be of great value to our group and its maisons.” Let the Elbaz renaissance begin.