At Barneys New York yesterday afternoon for a presentation of Lanvin’s Fall collection, Alber Elbaz was feeling wistful. Barneys is the place he met his partner 18 years ago, he told the assembled crowd of lunching ladies, straggling friends (“Hi, Giambattista!” he called out, mid-speech), and token celebrity host (a pregnant Uma Thurman). And New York is the place he began his fashion career, $800 in his pockets and two suitcases in his hands—”not Louis Vuitton, little shit ones,” he cracked.
How times have changed. Elbaz has just celebrated his tenth anniversary at the house of Lanvin, top of the fashion heap, and a major retail draw. Not only were New York’s spendthriftiest women seated front-row—Dr. Lisa Airan, Adelina Wong Ettelson, Helen Lee Schifter, et al.—but some of the biggest buyers nationwide were in town for the occasion. The L.A.-based stylist, interior designer, and feng shui practitioner Carole Shashona was one of them. “I love, love, love Lanvin,” she said before the show. “That’s the trouble as a stylist. It’s like, one for me, one for you!”
To think Elbaz at Lanvin almost wasn’t. The designer recalled a time after he was dismissed from YSL when he traveled the globe, thinking he’d never return to the fashion world that had spurned him, and considered becoming a doctor. “I thought, I like Advil, I love Tylenol, I want to share it with everyone!” he said. Ultimately, he realized that for uplift, fashion trumps Tylenol. And, he added, “there are no side effects.”
Out marched the likes of Julia Nobis, Sara Blomqvist, Hanne Gaby Odiele, and Patricia van der Vliet in the new collection. The crowd oohed and aahed (and immediately afterward, repaired to a table to pre-order). Afterward, Elbaz graciously received fans professing their love. The object of affection had a simple explanation. “I think when you love someone,” he said, “they love you back.”
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