PARIS – Israeli designer Alber Elbaz, best known for spending 14 years at the helm of France's Lanvin fashion house, has died at 59, the luxury conglomerate Richemont said Sunday.
A spokesperson for Richemont told CNN that Elbaz died Saturday from COVID-19. Women’s Wear Daily said he died at a Paris hospital.
In a statement, Richemont chairman Johann Rupert said “it was with shock and enormous sadness that I heard of Alber’s sudden passing. Alber had a richly deserved reputation as one of the industry’s brightest and most beloved figures.
"I was always taken by his intelligence, sensitivity, generosity and unbridled creativity. He was a man of exceptional warmth and talent, and his singular vision, sense of beauty and empathy leave an indelible impression," Rupert said.
The Richemont group paid tribute to Elbaz's “inclusive vision of fashion” that “made women feel beautiful and comfortable by blending traditional craftsmanship with technology.”
Elbaz started to work in collaboration with Richemont in 2019 with the aim of launching his own label, AZfashion.
Born in Morocco in 1961, Elbaz grew up in Israel before moving to New York in the 1980s.
He first became known to the public when he was named to lead the French house Guy Laroche in Paris in 1996. In 1998, he became creative director at Yves Saint Laurent. He was credited with reviving Lanvin during his long stint there from 2001 to 2015.
French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin paid tribute to Elbaz’ “intelligence, humour and great creativity that changed the fashion world.”
At the helm of Lanvin, the oldest French fashion house, he “wonderfully” met the challenge .
“For 14 years, the visionary genius of Alber Elbaz led Lanvin at the top of international fashion,” she stressed in a statement.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted her “great sadness” at the news, saying Elbaz was “a talented, generous man. He loved Paris so much and will be missed.”