Like any good artist, fashion designers take their work (and themselves) very seriously, which often makes listening to them talk about their work about as interesting and exciting as watching paint dry. Alber Elbaz is one of the few exceptions (notable company: Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford), mainly because he has such a good sense of humor about the whole thing.
Like most designers, Elbaz isn’t exactly happy with the “inhumane” state of the fashion calendar, but somehow his complaint feels less like spoiled griping and more like a logical argument. Maybe that’s because it is. In a speech given at London’s Royal Opera House for the Deloitte Ignite Conference, Elbaz explained:
“I don’t understand this marathon of fashion. Today, designers are expected to produce work that is bigger, better, faster and – these days – cheaper. A singer can quit once he or she has made ten great songs, a director can finish once he or she has made five amazing films, a writer just needs to write three great books. Now let’s look at designers – they produce six to eight shows a year, most designers have a 20-year-long career, so I need to create about 250 collections in that time. Not even Danielle Steel could write 250 books.
You start to understand why some designers do strange things, why some designers talk to themselves, you have to find a way of dealing with it all. I don’t take drugs because if I did I’d love them – I’d be a junkie. And because I’m Jewish, I’d probably be a dealer too.”
Elbaz has a similar attitude towards being fired from his role as creative director of YSL by Tom Ford in 1991.
“At Yves Saint Laurent I felt like the son-in-law, like I was part of the family but not quite. When I was fired, I felt like the widow. It was painful and destroying, but it didn’t crush me. I have never been Alber from Saint Laurent, just like I’m not Alber from Lanvin. I am just Alber short. And I am very short.”
And when you look at it that way, you can’t help but wonder what everyone else is complaining about.
Alber’s Philosophy [Vogue UK]