Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz dies aged 59 from COVID

Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz who revived Lanvin dies aged 59 from COVID: Kim Kardashian and Anna Wintour lead tributes

  • Luxury conglomerate Richemont announced Alber Elbaz’s death on Sunday 
  • The news was met with heartfelt tributes from stars including Kim Kardashian and Anna Wintour
  • Elbaz was best known for reinvigorating the Lanvin brand when he served as its fashion director from 2001 to 2015 
  • He went on to launch his own brand with Richemont called AZfashion 
  • Kardashian said her ‘heart broke’ when she heard of Elbaz’s passing 
  • Wintour, the global chief content officer for Condé Nast and editor of Vogue, said: ‘Alber always thought of fashion as an embrace of life at its best’ 

Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz (pictured in 2019) has died of COVID-19 at the age of 59

Israeli fashion designer Alber Elbaz, the former head of Lanvin, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 59. 

Luxury conglomerate Richemont announced Elbaz’s death in Paris in a statement on Sunday, sparking a flood of tributes from stars including Kim Kardashian and Anna Wintour.   

‘It was with shock and enormous sadness that I heard of Alber’s sudden passing,’ Richemont Chairman Johann Rupert said.

‘Alber had a richly deserved reputation as one of the industry’s brightest and most beloved figures.

‘I was always taken by his intelligence, sensitivity, generosity and unbridled creativity. He was a man of exceptional warmth and talent, and his singular vision, sense of beauty and empathy leave an indelible impression.’ 

Elbaz served as the head of Lanvin from 2001 and was beloved by A-listers including Kim Kardashian (pictured together)

Elbaz is pictured with Meryl Streep and Louisa Gummer at The Fashion Group International Night of Stars Gala in New York in October 2015

The Richemont group paid tribute to Elbaz’ ‘inclusive vision of fashion’ that ‘made women feel beautiful and comfortable by blending traditional craftsmanship with technology.’

Elbaz started to work in collaboration with Richemont in 2019 with the aim of launching his own label, AZfashion.

Fashion French daily Women’s Wear Daily, without giving a source, said Elbaz died on Saturday at a Paris hospital. Richemont later confirmed coronavirus as the cause of death.  

Born in Morocco in 1961, Elbaz grew up in Israel before moving to New York in the 1980s.

He first became known to the public when he was named to the helm of French house Guy Laroche in Paris in 1996. In 1998, he became creative director at Yves Saint Laurent.

Elbaz went on to become the fashion director of Lanvin in 2001 and served in that role up until his firing in 2015.  

He was credited with reinvigorating the veteran French fashion house for a new age with styles worn by stars such as Meryl Streep, Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o, Harry Styles and Michelle Obama. 

Elbaz was credited with reinvigorating the veteran French fashion house Lanvin for a new age with styles worn by stars such as Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o, Harry Styles and Michelle Obama. He is pictured at a show in September 2012

Models are seen on the catwalk in Elbaz’s designs for Lanvin in September 2012

Elbaz is pictured with Carine Roitfeld, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian at The Daily Front Row Fashion Los Angeles Awards Private Dinner in Beverly Hills in March 2016 

Elbaz is seen with Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour at the Jeanne Lanvin exhibition at the Palais Galliera in Paris on March 6, 2015

Elbaz is seen at a dress fitting with Kim Kardashian in a photo posted on her Instagram 

Elbaz was highly regarded in the industry as an empathetic and generous designer, with peers including Stella McCartney and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino calling him one of fashion’s ‘biggest treasures’.

Wintour, the global chief content officer for Condé Nast and editor of Vogue, paid tribute to Elbaz on Sunday, telling the New York Times: ‘Alber always thought of fashion as an embrace of life at its best.

‘When we wore his clothes, or were in his wonderful, joyful presence, we felt that too.’ 

Kardashian also paid tribute to Elbaz on Instagram, posting several photos of the pair together over the years. 

‘When I heard the news of his passing today my heart broke,’ she wrote. ‘My first time to Paris I was surprised with a lunch with Alber and I almost fainted when I walked in. He was the most warm and welcoming. 

‘Alber dressed me for my first Vogue cover and gifted me with the cover dress to hold onto that memory forever. Then Alber and Lanvin dressed me to the first Met Ball I was invited to on my own. Our fittings were filled with laughs and hugs! What a sweet soul. I will cherish all of our memories forever.’ 

Elbaz had long been open about his insecurities with his weight and spoke about how being skinny was a fantasy that influenced his work, the Times reported.  

He sought to create lightness through his designs, which were always comfortable and often eccentric. 

He shared his philosophy in 2015 when he accepted the Fashion Group International award, saying: ‘We designers, we started as couturiers: “What do women want? What do women need? What can I do for a woman to make her life better and easier? How can I make a woman more beautiful?”‘

‘[We became] creative directors, so we have to create, but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers, creating a buzz, making sure that it looks good in the pictures. 

‘The screen has to scream, baby. That’s the rule. Loudness is the new cool, and not only in fashion, you know. I prefer whispering.’

Actress Natalie Portman shared a close relationship with Elbaz, once calling him the ‘ultimate fashion philosopher-mentor’.  

When Elbaz landed on Time’s 100 most influential people list in 2007, Portman told the magazine: ‘He says things to me like: “Wear flats. You’re short. It’s much cooler not to pretend.”‘ 

Elbaz is survived by his brother and two sisters, as well as his partner Alex Koo.  

Elbaz is pictured with Diane Von Furstenberg at the Exhibition Opening of L’Exibition by Christian Louboutin as part of Paris Fashion Week in February 2020

Elbaz is pictured with model Audrey Marnay at an event in France in February 2019

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