Alber Elbaz, a beloved figure in fashion who died of Covid in April, had barely launched AZ Factory when he passed away (it was worn twice at the Met Gala, by Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys, which is how I heard about it). Forty-five famous friends of his — the folks at Dior, Schiaparelli, Rosie Assoulin, Christopher John Rogers, McQueen, Givenchy, Armani… truly, pretty much everyone you can imagine — each designed one outfit to the collection as their own personal tributes to his life, his work, and his very self:
“We wanted to find a way to celebrate Alber’s spirit,” explained Elbaz’s long term partner Alex Koo during a preview of the clothes that the contributing designers had created in tribute. “It is beautiful to see how each designer revealed a different aspect of Alber. It really was a labor of love.”
Koo explained that Elbaz had long cherished the idea of recreating the Théâtre de la Mode, an extraordinary 1945 project that brought together Paris’s 60 preeminent haute couture designers, as well as milliners, hairdressers, and accessory designers, to dress a series of doll sized figures that were then arranged in vignettes suggesting fashionable Parisian life—a walk in the Palais Royal, for instance, or a night at the Opéra. The dolls and their decors traveled the world, vividly demonstrating to an enraptured public that the arts of Paris fashion had survived the hardships of the German Occupation and continued to set the bar for technique and imagination. Alber’s dream, as Koo explained in the moving voice-over that introduced the show, was to echo this initiative and “bring together the best talents of the industry in celebration of love, beauty, and hope.”
Everything was presented in alphabetical order. The AZ Factory Instagram thanked each designer by name with a picture of who did what, and that’s how I got the complete credits. It’s really very touching to see all of fashion come together to honor a person who was widely beloved, and influential in ways we can’t see from our bleacher seats. And on the heels of the Fendace collection, it’s also fun to see how much each designer spoke through their own individual styles. I highly recommend looking at all of them. It’s a real act of love, and the kind it sounds like Elbaz would have cherished the most.