27 APRIL 2021

Our dear friend Alber Elbaz passed away on the 25th April, another victim of Covid-19. Over the next few weeksso much will be written about this exceptional and thoughtful designer, who genuinely loved and supported women. As a tribute to Alber, and as a gesture to the remarkable person he was, we are re-issuing the podcast we recorded together nearly a year ago. 

When we decided to launch a series of podcasts during the first lockdown, Alber, with his usual sweet and generous enthusiasm, offered himself as an interviewee. Yes, he would be happy to discuss ideas together.

Suzy and Alber Elbaz relax in a Paris park after the Maria Grazia Chiuri show for Dior (October 2016). Photograph by Soren Jepsen

A sense of fun and absolute dedication to his work were the cornerstones of Alber’s life. Witty, whimsical and wise, he put women first. From 2001, for 14 powerful years he reinvigorated and illuminated the French house of Lanvin as its Creative Director, dressing Meryl Streep in gold lamé for her Best Actress Award at the 2012 Oscars for her role as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady”. He was ahead of his time in using an eco-certified fabric. In Meryl Streep’s words, “Alber’s dresses [for Lanvin] are the only ones, when I wear them, that I feel like myself in, or even a better version of her.”  

He dressed so many stars for the Academy Awards. He glamourised, in a modern way, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow. But I saw less “go-go Hollywood” and more of Alber’s dedication to his work – always with a funny side. When we went to his favourite restaurant in Paris on the Left Bank with his partner Alex Koo, I always ended up dabbing my eyes from tears of laughter.     

Now, I am crying for Alber himself, taken away so cruelly by Covid-19, when he was so health conscious and a self-styled hypochondriac. This was such a tragic end, just as he was starting an exciting new project, “Alber Elbaz, AZ Factory”, with Swiss luxury group Richemont. 

Johann Rupert, Chairman of Richemont, said in a statement: “We are devastated. I have lost not only a colleague but a beloved friend. Alber had a richly deserved reputation as one of the industry’s brightest and most beloved figures.”

In 2020, when Alber re-emerged with AZ Factory, he continued to win our hearts and minds by offering easy clothes, bold jewels, bags and shoes – all suited to a varied audience of women.

Everything Alber became involved in was a hive of creativity and charm. When he generously accepted the challenge of designing the front cover of a book of my writings for Vogue, to be presented at the 2019 Condé Nast International luxury conference, he illustrated me as a rather rotund version of the Mona Lisa. 

My deepest condolences to Alber’s family, and to Alex Koo, his partner for life.

I hope you will listen to our podcast with Alber and think of all he achieved and how much he adored and supported women. The best way to remember Alber is to hear him speak – he was such joyous company.