Magical BEINGS: Portraits of Artists, Friends + Pioneers: Alber Elbaz


Alber-Elbaz-Revolving-Door-Jade-DresslerAlber Elbaz is a fashion designer who transformed the designs of Lanvin, the legendary and oldest Paris couture maison, into a modern signature of playfulness, bravery, and a new, bold expression of women.

The story of this drawing is just as magical.

Exactly the day BEFORE his departure from the maison, after fourteen years, was announced in the media, I had a distinct vision to portray him as the classic Lanvin perfume bottle.  His silhouette is so engaging, round and black, just like the bottle.  The shocking fashion news just added a layer and immediacy to doing the portrait.  I illustrated this in three hours the next morning!


The Arpege perfume was my Grandmother’s scent and combined with the famous logo of a mother and child, I have a very personal connection to this house, perfume, and logo.  This vintage bottle of talc, a present from my mother, sits on a shelf in my bathroom and was the model for the bottle in the illustration.


The speculation that Elbaz was headed to Dior, after the recent departure of head designer Raf Simons, immediately gave me the vision of the golden revolving door.  Elbaz’s potential new shape, that of the famous “D” of Dior became obvious!

D'Or-gold-doorThis “D’Or” is an image over the door of my office. Translation: Door of Gold.  These ideas underscored the gold revolving door of fashion, as these upturnings and farewell waves of creative leaders are often a decision based on money vs. vision.


Here is Elbaz in his signature bowtie.  His signature turn of legs, almost clown-like childlike walk and little shoes captivate me at the end of his shows.  I also added his shoes as being empty as he is portrayed as a tossed designer.  How to fill these shoes?
His possible step into Dior came from my collage experiment here:


This visual idea of a volume of a person is also my favorite image from the Lanvin show in Paris I was so fortunate to see live.  I will never forget these long, fluid washes of fabric.  So regal, ceremonial, and intriguing. (And in their own way, doors of gold.)

The tiny runway model in gold at the bottom of the revolving door in the illustration just emerged while I drew.


Movement and change within a volume of circumstance.


The story behind Lanvin’s mother and child logo goes way back to 1907.  Founder Jeanne Lanvin was one of the first to design children’s clothing to match the designs of their mothers.  (My own family’s legacy of owning children’s wear stores…another connection!)


For a costume party, Jeanne dressed herself and daughter in matching outfits “and the moment was immortalised in a photograph.” When it came time to design a logo for the house in 1927, Jeanne commissioned Paul Iribe, who captured this mother-daughter moment.

I love that my own, next evolution of Lanvin via this illustration emerged right around Halloween and Samhain, a very ancient feminine time of costumes, between seasons, between worlds.  A kind of golden, revolving door.

I also loved this modern interpretation in the Paris Lanvin shop window during the time I saw the live show. Cycles. Revolving.


Wherever Alber Elbaz lands I am quite sure new doors of gold will open for him and for all of us who thrill to his work. As a master of playing upon the rich, mythic history of a brand, he remains a golden boy!


%d bloggers like this: