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.com" target="_blank">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.'