29-Jun, 08:55

11:27, October 04 143 0

2016-10-04 11:27:16
Alber Elbaz Receives a French Honor and a Crowd’s Cheers

PARIS — “I cannot believe what a fabulous front row is here,” Alber Elbaz, the former artistic director of Lanvin, said on Monday as he drew some of the biggest names in the industry to a gilded room in the Palais Royal. “Here I am, inviting you to a show with no dresses. It was difficult, but don’t you find it original?”

They had gathered — the heads of Vogue, W and Harper’s Bazaar, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, fellow designers, former colleagues and a few famous fans, including Demi Moore and Kristin Scott Thomas — to see Mr. Elbaz appointed an officer of the Légion d’Honneur. It was an elevation of his rank; he had been made a chevalier in 2007.

“I think he’s part of French culture,” said Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director of Valentino. “He’s contributed to the joyfulness of French fashion.”

Asked if he thought a new home for the designer, currently between placements, was on the way, he replied, “I hope so.”

Mr. Piccioli had hit on it. Joy was palpable in the room in a way not often expressed in the salons of Paris Fashion Week. But Mr. Elbaz has a way of disarming even the frostiest fashion types, and the industry has often broken with its customary hauteur to celebrate him with cheers. “We came for Alber,” said Terry Jones, the founding editor of i-D magazine, who with his wife and collaborator, Tricia, had come in from London for the day.

Frédéric Malle, the perfumer, added, “He’s someone you want to do nice things for.”

Mr. Elbaz was presented with a medal by Audrey Azoulay, the French minister of culture and communication, who gave a speech detailing his career, from his beginnings in Morocco and Israel to his time in New York with Geoffrey Beene, to his arrival in Paris and stints at Guy Laroche, Yves Saint Laurent and then Lanvin.

Ms. Azoulay did not pass over the unhappy end of his 14-year tenure there. Mr. Elbaz was fired in October.

“Many love stories end in tragedy,” she said, to laughter. “That’s the story of Lanvin.”

All the same, she said, “France waits for you; France is faithful to you.”

Mr. Elbaz has been popping up at shows this week, seeing friends and posting on Instagram — a new passion — leading many to wonder what his next move might be.

“I can tell you that I am still in love with fashion and I miss fashion and I miss you all a lot,” he said from the dais. “One day we will be back together — but maybe at another place.”

Where that might be, “I think he’ll know instinctively,” said Glenda Bailey, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar.

In the meantime, Mr. Elbaz did take the opportunity to announce a new project, a perfume made in collaboration with Mr. Malle, called “Superstitious.”

As he was pinned with his medal, the room erupted into cheers and some tears, and then, led by a call of “Bravo!” from Anna Dello Russo, the Italian fashion editor, into cheers again. The line to kiss Mr. Elbaz and offer personal congratulations afterward was long.

“It’s hard to even put into words the incredible love and spirit in this room,” said Ms. Moore, standing to the side with Mr. Elbaz’s partner, Alex Koo. “It feels like it’s just the beginning.”