Alber Elbaz was handing out tissues and candy to the crowd last night for his speech at Parsons. The tissues, he said, were for the tears that might ensue when talking about what he archly referred to as “my tragedy” — being fired by Lanvin last year — while the candy, it seems, was just for the heck of it.
When not distributing Hershey’s Kisses and hugs to the packed house of 600 people, the designer opened up about his feelings about Lanvin (it’s the first time he’s spoken at length about what happened). He also spoke about what he thinks of the state of fashion today, and his newfound life as an Instagram star. Here, some highlights from the talk.
On what it’s like to be unmoored from Lanvin after 15 years:
“Since I left [Lanvin] I can’t sketch anymore. I still have a huge scar on me.” But, he noted, “there is something quite fabulous about being free.”
On how he found solace in Instagram:
After his firing, “I received so many loves and likes. I was so touched — it was hundreds and hundreds of those love messages via Instagram. I decided to join the club. I think [Kevin Systrom] is showing the world that Instagram is also a tool to show love to each other.”
On “Manus x Machina” and what it says about the current state of fashion:
“You have to run and see this exhibition. It was one of my favorite ever. And you know why? Because it was so much about whispering again … It was about workmanship, about know-how, about time. And the one thing that impressed me the most was the fact that it was almost silent. I think maybe Anna [Wintour] and Andrew [Bolton] are hearing something that is, maybe, less loud and more silent, and I loved it. We designers are living a very hard calendar: We are changing the show time, we are going through the show-now-wear-now, designers are leaving, designers are coming, a lot of changes. And I’m thinking, What is happening? Someone said, when there is a wind of change, we have two possibilities: whether we build a wall to protect us from the wind, or we build a windmill so we can take advantage of this wind. I think technology embraced those changes, and they used the wind to go forward. Fashion somehow built a wall, a bunker, to protect ourselves and to protect the tradition.”
“People that are divas are usually not the best at what they do. Don’t play games.”
On the importance of talent:
“When you are good and you are professional, don’t be scared. No one can erase you.”
On what he’s up to next, after someone suggested he take a vacation:
“I don’t like vacation. I hate the sand, I hate, like, the beach, I hate the heat. Work, for me, is vacation.”
On whether he’d do a reality show:
“Do you have any connections?”