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Alber Elbaz, top Israeli fashion icon and ex-Lanvin director, dies of COVID

France-based designer, 59, said to succumb to South African strain of coronavirus after being fully vaccinated

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

In this file photo taken on October 03, 2016 Israeli-US fashion designer Alber Elbaz delivers a speech after he received the title of Officer in the National Order of Merit by French Culture minister at the Culture ministry in Paris on October 3, 2016. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)
In this file photo taken on October 03, 2016 Israeli-US fashion designer Alber Elbaz delivers a speech after he received the title of Officer in the National Order of Merit by French Culture minister at the Culture ministry in Paris on October 3, 2016. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Alber Elbaz, a top Israeli fashion designer known for his industry-altering influence in the Paris fashion industry, died Saturday from the coronavirus in a Paris hospital. He was 59 years old.

According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, Elbaz was infected with the South African COVID variant despite being fully vaccinated. Elbaz, who was born in Morocco, has three siblings living in Israel and will be buried in the Jewish state.

Elbaz was known for highly elegant, feminine designs and groundbreaking runway shows with a party atmosphere, particularly after he rejuvenated the historic Lanvin brand in Paris, Women’s Wear Daily reported.

His rejuvenation of the Lanvin brand was focused on the cocktail dress.

“I said, ‘It’s all about zip-in and zip-out,’” he said in an interview in 2014, according to Women’s Wear Daily. “It’s all about giving ease to women.”

Elbaz’s dresses were known for their industrial zips and raw edges, two signature design elements in his Lanvin work. He also introduced the concept of dressy sneakers with ribbon laces, ballet flats and chunky costume jewelry, all iconic looks that have been translated into everyday sportswear.

The fairytale story of Elbaz and his fashion ascendance began at Israel’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, which he attended after fulfilling his army service.

He moved to New York City after completing his degree, working at a small bridal design studio before he landed at Geoffrey Beene, whose assistant he was for seven years.

From there, Elbaz moved to Paris, where he first ran the Guy Laroche fashion house and then French luxury fashion house Yves Saint Laurent SAS.

Elbaz became a global fashion name 20 years ago with his significant rejuvenation of the Lanvin fashion house, which he ran as creative director from 2001 to 2015, before he was fired in a surprise shake-up of the company.

During Elbaz’s time at Lanvin, he transformed the business from a mostly menswear brand into a leading label for women, offering new energy and spirit to the Paris fashion industry.

After Elbaz was fired from Lanvin, he took a five-year hiatus, and recently launched AZ Factory, a startup for solutions-driven fashion, entertainment and technology.

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