Here’s something to think about: Vogue Festival is quite the oxymoron. Festivals normally hold that casual characteristic where every sense of pretension is left at home and celebratory gimmicks play out under the sky. But as I look across the hall of Southbank Centre filled with girls of every fashion and form, of cameras, makeup, and merchandise, I hoped that it could have been called a party instead.
That’s not to say I’m complaining. I joined in on the party! I had my hair done with a wraparound braid, taking inspiration from the runway girls at Valentino’s spring/summer 2011 show. And then my lips finally had a taste of designer lipstick as YSL’s slid across mine. Ah, the luxury! The fashion! In a matter of minutes, I felt like a different woman… Once again, fashion demonstrates its superpower to transform.
But the spotlight shined ever so brightly on the speakers, the cognoscenti of the billion-dollar industry. They weren’t there to talk about money though – oh god, no – because if you are truly, madly in love with this art form, it’s the last thing on your mind. The roster of speakers over the weekend was a lineup that could have not been any better. And I must say, the fashion gods must really like me as I was blessed with a free ticket to Alber Elbaz’s session.
I think what Elbaz managed to do in that one hour was bring fashion back to our feet. Where it so rightly belongs. I hate to admit it but fashion has that stereotype of being so irrelevant, so exclusive, and so easy. But Elbaz is the antithesis to that, which says so much as he is the creative director of Lanvin, one of Paris’ most treasured houses.
Right from the beginning, he strips away all forms of superiority. “I come from a humble background. And I’m glad I did because you can fantasize when you come from a small place,” he says. Having been born in Morocco and growing up in Israel, countries thousands of miles away from the fashion capitals of the world, it’s quite obvious that hard work was his path to the destination. “You know, you can have connections or money but that only brings you to the door… Never to the ceiling,” he says so poignantly.
And in a world where everything has become a routine, he still wants to remain with the premise that “fashion is all about fantasy… about taking a piece of fabric and turning it into 3D.” Season after season, Elbaz never fails to deliver clothes – beautiful clothes that spring from a dream to right in front of our eyes! – that respect women. And when we women find a designer who does that, we save a soft spot in our hearts for them.
|Fall 2011 RTW|
Elbaz keeps me in awe with his designs but makes me laugh with his humanness, his authenticity and warmth. “I am a walking contradiction! I fly first class but I like the people in coach because they’re my kind of people; I eat in classy restaurants when I just really want to go to McDonald’s,” he admits. I sit thoroughly amazed of how someone who holds so much power can also hold so much modesty. I wonder how he does that and then it’s as if he heard my question as he says, “I like to create relationships. We often forget that we are an industry of people, not machines.” There you have it: his driving force is connection. And if you think about it, that’s what fashion has always been about: a connection between the clothes and the wearer, the wearer and the designer, the designer and world.
And then that’s when I realized the purpose of the Vogue Festival: it was really a celebration of the significant value of fashion in our world. For two days, under one roof, thousands of fashion aficionados gathered together to deeply recognize this industry for its innate ability to translate an emotion, a movement, a consciousness into something that we can take with us everywhere.
Elbaz ties the whole festival together with the idea for his autumn/winter 2013 collection: "I accessorized the lines with necklaces. I opened the show with a necklace that said ‘Help’, because I like asking for help, and ended it with one that said ‘Love’, because you know, it’s always nice to have some of that." Touché, Alber, touché.
Runway photos from Style.com