My theme this month, “Unique is Chic” is inspired by the fact that, in my fashion, fashion is all about understanding what it is that makes us stand out from others, and how we can present that uniqueness to others. Recently, I was able to watch Diana Vreeland’s documentary, “The Eye has to Travel”, and what she emphasized in fashion is how to make an asset of one’s faults. If one has a space in one’s teeth, make it the most beautiful thing about them; If one is tall, become taller by wearing high heeled shoes; If one has a long neck, be proud of it and don’t hunch over; if one has got a long nose, hold it up and make it your trademark. Fashion designers have an amazing ability and talent to create clothes that help us to push our faults in the most glorious ways, because after all, our faults are what make us unique, and why should we be ashamed of what makes us whole. Vogue has a new video series on Vogue.com entitled, “Vogue Voices”, which delves into the minds of some of the biggest designers of the moment and what makes them qualified to run a design house. Couture is all about the unique and one of a kind, and being that this month on #IMGblog is all about “The Secret World of Couture”, I decided to bring the interviews of the couture designers from this series to my Style Watch series. In W Magazine’s May 2013 feature, “The Man Who Loves Women”, Alber Elbaz, Creative Director of Lanvin, made an interesting assertion he learned from co-founder of the couture house, Yves St. Laurent, Pierre Bergé: “The best business people are the ones who think like artists. And the best artists are the true business people.” Making women beautiful is a difficult business and the designers of couture houses take their business very seriously, and are very wise about life and how to create products that work for women’s lives. This month I wanted to see what specifically we could learn about fashion from these designers for I always find it interesting how much wisdom can be gained from the eccentric minds of fashion designers.
Creative Director of Lanvin, Alber Elbaz, believes that real haute couture is when you actually work with a person. His favorite part of being a designer is being in the store, in the dressing rooms with a women during a fitting. He says that when he is fitting a customer, he gets so anxious with excitement that while they are dressing he will barge into their dressing area because he loves to work and feel that he can make a change. He compares designing to being a doctor in that he is very careful and attentive to the needs of his clients, and he loves finding the pieces that will “fit” her. For him the couture process is all about knowing the person, and understanding who she is, what she wants to hide, what she loves about herself, where she coming from, and where she is going.
Elbaz specializes in creating clothes for beautiful, talented, gorgeous, women and he tries to help them look beautiful on the red carpet. For him, its more about how they feel than how they look. He tries to think of how to make the dress disappear, where one can look at the women, understand who they are, and in the end, we don’t see the dress on the woman, but we see the woman inside the dress. He doesn’t want the onlooker to be caught up in the styling because then one misses the point of dressing, which is to be seen for what you are. The dress is meant to enhance a women’s beauty, not be the focal point. He respects women for the work they have done, and the hard work they go through in their lives. He appreciates that fagility and vulnerability women posess.
Elbaz's illustration for the promotion of
Recently, Elbaz has been working with Lancome to design the packaging for their mascara line. In his W Magazine feature, he admits that he “adores women, and the one thing [he] wants to do more than anything is to see a transformation of personality when someone puts on one of [his] dresses.” His original agenda as a designer has always been to communicate with women through clothes, and he feels an obligation to the Lanvin brand and the Lanvin woman even though he has worked at other design houses such as YSL, Krizia, and was sought after for Givenchy and Dior. Elber is committed to the idea that his clothes be timeless and in a way, helpful: He wants to make it easier for women to dress for their complicated lives. He says, “I am not interested in perfection, and neither are the women who wear my clothes.” He also says, “I don’t ever use the word ‘sexy. My clothes may be sexy, but I am more interested in what is beautiful—and that has nothing to do with age or size. Or…sexy. I don’t even know what that word means.”
The philosophy of his work is to do things in a different way, and to bring joy to his life. “When you enjoy something and bring a good energy to it, it shows in the product.” He says, “Basically we create what we are: when we are sad, we create sadness; when we are happy, we create happy, when we are miserable, we create misery, and it shows through the product, and is felt on the body.”