Israeli designer Alber Elbaz, the renowned fashion designer who died suddenly in 2021, was honored and remembered with great love and affection at the opening of “Alber Elbaz, The Dream Factory,” an exhibit devoted to his work and life at Design Museum Holon, the city where Elbaz was raised and where he was buried after he died at the age of 59.
Elbaz died of complications of COVID-19 in April of last year.
At the Monday night event held outside the soaring red curves of the museum, Elbaz was commemorated by Michal Herzog, wife of President Isaac Herzog; Elbaz’s spouse, Alex Koo; chief curator Maya Dvash, family member Alon Ben Tolila and exhibit curator Yaara Keydar, with Elbaz’s family present.
Koo, who was Elbaz’s life partner for 28 years, spoke about Elbaz leaving Israel as a young man, “with a suitcase full of dreams and hopes to discover the world beyond and to find your place.
“Now you’re back home in Holon where it all began,” he said.
He spoke of Elbaz’s Moroccan birth, his Holon childhood and studies at Shenkar, touching on the designer’s resume of work in New York with Geoffrey Beene, and then in Paris, “the city of your dreams,” with Guy Laroche, Yves Saint Laurent and then Lanvin.
Koo recalled Elbaz’s mother’s adage — to be big in his work and small and humble in his everyday life, something he said Elbaz always fulfilled, whether meeting with major CEOs or the office cleaning staff.
“You were always big and small in your life, loved simply as Alber,” he said. Koo said Elbaz was dedicated to his two sisters, Rivka and Gladys, and his family, who were “the bedrock of his capacity to love and to give.”
Another family member, Alon Ben Tolila, spoke about Elbaz’s small, tight-knit family who were in touch with him all the time, sending text messages, speaking on the phone, always finding “a couch to sit on together and to laugh,” said Ben Tolila.
The exhibit was curated by fashion historian Yaara Keydar, who spoke of Elbaz carrying two notebooks as a child, one for schoolwork and another for sketches.
Keydar worked closely with Elbaz’s family on the project, tracing his path from childhood through school, army service and his studies before his move to New York and Paris.
“It doesn’t summarize his life,” said Keydar, who noted that Elbaz never wanted a retrospective exhibit about his work, “but asks people to continue his dreams.”
The exhibit, set up throughout the soaring museum designed by Ron Arad (no relation to the missing Israeli pilot), shows off several Elbaz designs and brings viewers through a timeline of his life, including a glitzy lower gallery devoted to AZ Factory, the fashion brand he founded in 2019 with backing from Richemont, a Switzerland-based luxury goods holding company.
The central focus, however, is in the main gallery with the grandiose creations of “Love Brings Love,” in which 46 of the world’s leading designers made original pieces inspired by Elbaz and in tribute to him, five months after his sudden 2021 death.
Rich pleated satins, fluffy tulles, coats embroidered with Elbaz’s familiar image, and even a white cape imprinted with a black-and-white print of his face, all pay homage to the beloved designer, in a “powerful expression of love and respect,” said Koo.