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Alber Elbaz Is Back With a Joyous Collaboration


Alber Elbaz at Lanvin’s Spring 2015 show. Image:

“I think there is a lot of soufflé and I’m looking for the real cake, the real chocolate, the real deal,” says Alber Elbaz. He’s using dessert as a metaphor for the fashion system and constant state of disruption we’re living in, a time when the real deal is hard to come by. But Alber is, of course, the realest deal, and like a good cake, few things are as addicting as he. Once you’ve walked through a party in one of his dresses — or had the pleasure to chat with the designer himself — you will find yourself positively hooked.

Currently, Elbaz is hooked on LeSportsac bags. For the past year, he’s been working with the brand on a series of nylon bags, backpacks, and weekenders printed with his carefree sketches. “It was a nice project with nice people — you know I’m very sensitive to the people I work with, and I felt very comfortable with the team at LeSportsac, the Japanese and the American teams,” Elbaz begins explaining how the partnership came to be. “I liked the idea of a democratic and iconic company that is there for so long and known for its sketches, so I thought, why not? It will be fun!”

Elbaz’s styles launch in stores and on in August, with an official party on September 5 during New York Fashion Week, each featuring some of the designer’s signature graphics. There are wristlets that read chic, a massive red leopard print weekender, and a few of Elbaz’s dancing girls on a tote, each wrapped up in a voluminous dress, centered among joyous messages like you look divine. Of the text prints, which were a staple in his catwalk career, Elbaz says, “Words are an important thing for me because I think the world we’re living in today is such a world of visuals, and sometimes the whole visual world gets so chaotic that we need a little bit of words and stories. I always believe that stories last and the visual stays for a very short time and we go on, so I always put words.” The overall message, as he tells it, is that this is a “joyful and funny and happy project,” and in carrying one of these bags, you should feel joyful and funny and happy yourself.

The nylon fabrications, too, were important to the designer, who has been on a career-spanning search for lightness — and maybe also freedom. Of his time off traveling, where he says he was more of a voyeur than an exhibitionist, he noticed something about women today. “Looking at the world, looking at all these women around the world, I saw that all they actually need is some lightness in life. Their life is sometimes getting a little too heavy — heavy duty — so why not go into a light bag story?” he says. “And there’s something really smart about LeSportsac: You have all the pockets, it’s very organized, but more than anything, it’s so light.”

To us Alber addicts, the million dollar question still lingers: Has this fashion-world collaboration sparked an urge to get back in the ready-to-wear business? “The answer is yes,” he says. “But I’m taking the time, I’m not really in a rush. I always feel I want to do things I love for people I love and for women I love, so this is always the issue. I mean, here I am waiting for Mr Right or Mrs Right, or whatever you call it. For the time being I am observing. I think it’s quite an interesting thing to stop from time to time and to look around and to try to see and understand and accumulate ideas and words and stories and needs and life — and life changes. I think as a designer, we have to take all of it into consideration.”

As our conversation comes to a close, we find ourselves talking about food again. Seeing as LeSportsac bags are ideal for travel, with all their pockets and resilient fabric, I ask Elbaz what he packs for a trip. “I’m always afraid to be hungry in the middle of the ocean, because you know how it gets on those airlines, they give you what they give you and that’s it. I’m always afraid to be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and to be hungry, so I always have something to eat,” he says with a laugh. “I have snacks, I have something to eat, I have crayons, and pencils, and some papers, and a great book. It depends, a T-shirt. I think LeSportsac bags are great because they are adjustable and you can put so many things in there — and there is always a place for more. There is something very generous about those bags, the more you put inside the more you want to put inside. It’s like sugar, the more you use it, the more you want to use it.”

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