If the fashion industry has started programs to ensure runway models are at least 16 years old and eating disorder-free, why don't they also launch some sort of fashion D.A.R.E. program to help keep designers off drugs? John Galliano's struggles with substance abuse were only made public after he was fired from Christian Dior, while many other top designers have publicly discussed their addiction issues. Lanvin's Alber Elbaz admitted at the Royal Opera House's Deloitte Ignite event over the weekend that he's probably susceptible to addiction himself.
"I don't understand this marathon of fashion," he said. "Today, designers are expected to produce work that is bigger, better, faster and — these days — cheaper. A singer can quit once he or she has made ten great songs, a director can finish once he or she has made five amazing films, a writer just needs to write three great books. Now let's look at designers — they produce six to eight shows a year, most designers have a 20-year-long career, so I need to create about 250 collections in that time. Not even Danielle Steel could write 250 books.
"You start to understand why some designers do strange things, why some designers talk to themselves, you have to find a way of dealing with it all." Alber though, knows where to draw the line when it comes to his own coping mechanisms. "I don't take drugs because if I did I'd love them — I'd be a junkie. And because I'm Jewish, I'd probably be a dealer too," he joked.
Elbaz went on to discuss his struggle with finding meaning and purpose in his career (which is perhaps something a fashion anti-drug program could address). But he has found meaning in it since women have found meaning in his clothes.
"One day, I received an SMS from a friend in New York — she was in a taxi on the way to court to face her arsehole ex-husband, and she said to me 'Alber, I am wearing a Lanvin dress, and I feel so protected.' That to me was the biggest compliment I ever received. To have a 500 gram piece of silk make her feel protected — that made me very happy indeed."
Alber's Philosophy [Vogue UK]