For the first few decades of his career in fashion, Alber Elbaz lent his shine to other designers and brands. He started as Geoffrey Beene’s assistant in New York in the mid-1980s, moving to Guy Laroche, Yves Saint Laurent, and Krizia before embarking on a career-defining 14 years at Lanvin. His new brand AZ Factory was a goodbye to all that. “For the first time I want to give birth to a new story and not to recreate or replace someone else. It’s a moment of change we are living today, and this moment of change, from my end, was starting a little smaller, a little bit more humble,” Elbaz said at Vogue’s Forces of Fashion conference in November 2020. “I want to look at fashion from a different perspective.”
Before he officially launched AZ Factory this January, Elbaz met up with Vogue’s Hamish Bowles at The Ritz hotel in Paris to discuss his new perspective on fashion, life, and women’s wardrobes. Over a table set with Elbaz’s dream dinner guests, the pair discussed the philosophy underpinning AZ Factory’s launch. A pre-roll clip defined the crux of AZ Factory as “not a revolution, not an evolution. A reset,” but as the conversation unfolded, AZ Factory’s true mission became apparent: Decluttering a woman’s closet and her life. His long-standing idea that a woman should be able to zip herself into—and out of—a dress was one of the brand’s core tenets, as was a custom knit material and other eco-fabrications, all of which are hand-washable. The collection would be offered see-now-buy-now in sizes XXS to XXXXL. “In a way I feel [a] kind of awareness to individuality, to diversity, to be what you are,” Elbaz told Bowles. “There is not a formula of what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Fashion is lucky that for his 59 years, Elbaz was exactly as he was: humble, humane, kind, imaginative, and a force of creativity and comfort all at once.