Paris Says Goodbye to Alber Elbaz | The Week Ahead, BoF Professional

A Fashion Week Tribute

  • Paris Fashion Week comes to a close on Oct. 5 with shows from Chanel, Louis Vuitton and others

  • The final event is a tribute to Alber Elbaz, with Rei Kawakubo, Virgil Abloh and others creating 44 looks inspired by the late designer

  • Elbaz had launched his own label, AZ Factory, before dying of Covid-19 in April; this season would have marked his second collection and first physical show

Paris Fashion Week wraps this week with some of the industry’s biggest brands, including Chanel and Louis Vuitton. But the highlight is likely to be AZ Factory’s show on Oct. 5. The show will serve as a tribute to the Israeli designer Alber Elbaz, who died of Covid-19 in April, just three months after debuting his first collection for his new Richemont-backed brand. On Tuesday, 44 designers, including Donatella Versace, Rei Kawakubo and Virgil Abloh, will send looks inspired by Elbaz and his work down the runway. While best known to the public for his “woman-first approach,” with catwalk-ready but consumer-friendly looks during 14 years at Lanvin, Elbaz was also beloved among industry peers for his warmth and his vision. The love didn’t always extend to the C-suite; Elbaz was unceremoniously forced out of Lanvin in 2015 after a dispute with the brand’s owner. AZ Factory marked his long-awaited comeback after years on the sidelines, save for one-off projects with Tod’s and LeSportsac, but the new venture was cut short before it could truly begin.

The Bottom Line: Tuesday’s tribute brings to mind what might have been; after years in the fashion wilderness, Elbaz spoke of redefining fashion for the post-pandemic world, and his first collection included ergonomic “anatoknit” dresses and activewear.

Fashion’s Growth Problem

  • The Copenhagen Fashion Summit will be held online from Oct. 7-8

  • This year’s focus is on whether it’s possible for fashion businesses to grow sustainably

  • Next month, the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow brings world leaders together to potentially set new targets

The annual Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which draws a mix of climate and labour activists as well as representatives of large brands, is a good opportunity to check in on how the fashion mainstream is thinking about sustainability. In the past, the event has focused on raising awareness of fashion’s negative effect on people and the environment, and prodding companies to adopt measures to mitigate their impact. While some brands have set lofty goals, and an entire market for sustainable fashion has sprung up, the industry’s overall progress has been halting.

This year, the central theme is more elemental: is it possible to square fashion’s relentless pursuit of higher sales and fatter profits with its obligation to do right by the planet? It’s a line of thinking that directly counters the incrementalism favoured by much of the industry. Whether it can find purchase remains to be seen; slow growth or no-growth policies tend not to be popular with investors, but they can be swayed if a brand’s customers, or regulators, demand change. The UN Climate Change Conference next month may provide that impetus for more drastic action.

The Bottom Line: As last year’s lukewarm reception to proposals by some luxury designers to produce fewer collections shows, changing the fashion system is gruelling work.

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