Alber Elbaz has a saying: 'After fame, perfection is the most dangerous thing. There is nothing after perfection'. Yet it's this knife-edge that lends the designer's work its allure. And the new book, 'Alber Elbaz, Lanvin' - impeccably timed to coincide with the end of his first decade at the French fashion house - is yet another example of his pursuit of perfection.
Elbaz has been the sole capitulator of Lanvin’s stellar revitalisation since grabbing the reins in March 2002. Through his tenureship at Paris' oldest label, he's upped its reputation from faded heritage brand to glistening modern must-have for every closet worth its fashion salt.
The designer is undoubtedly visionary in his creative direction, and a self-deprecatingly nice guy to boot - earning him an unwaning league of adoring fashion press and buyers. With longevity in the face of a fickle industry firmly under his belt, a book is the natural next step.
Going beneath the surface, past the signature one-shouldered cocktail dresses and the chunky jewel-embellished creations that never fail to put a smile on the Paris show-goers' faces each season, 'Alber Elbaz: Lanvin' boldly steers into the depths of the atelier. Edited by Pascal Dangin, the 704-page practically wordless tome reveals the gruelling details of couture fabrication in pictures – from the raw materials to the process of it all.
Photographed by But Sou Lai, the voyeuristic journey races from start to finish through a single collection (Autum/Winter 2011), from its conception to its visual climax on the runway. It's crammed with candid snapshots, like a pair of leopard print-manicured hands cutting a pattern, a relaxed-looking Elbaz in the throes of a pre-show briefing with with his team, and a grainy shot of a huge pile of torn up sheets of paper (possibly fabric detail shots) lying by a bin next to the photocopier.
Needless to say, the handmade Lanvin-cloth-bound book, complete with gilded edging, isn’t your standard fashion book. It begins its story with a startling number of blank pages, which are not a catostrophic printing error, as they may seem on first inspection. 'I start each collection with a blank page which is the scariest part of the work,' reveals Elbaz. 'I need a story; I need to dream to start filling the white pages with women I know and women I want to know.'