On Thursday it was announced that Alber Elbaz, beloved creative director of Lanvin, had been “ousted” after 14 years by the brand’s majority shareholder, Shaw-Lan Wang. Today, WWD reports that Lanvin’s employees are livid, and demanding that he return.
The employee body said it may also seek recourse with the Paris commercial court to mediate its opposition to the management decision.
Representatives of the works council divulged details of its revolt on a midday broadcast on French radio station RTL.
Lanvin staff were told of Elbaz’s dismissal on Wednesday — news met with shock, tears and chants of “Alber, Alber, Alber,” according to an anonymous employee, who was joined for the broadcast by council representative Charles-Henry Paradis.
Of course, the French are known for their rigorous culture of protest and debate, but this shows how beloved Elbaz truly is, among his patrons and his coworkers alike. In the Washington Post, Robin Givhan contextualized his importance, particularly as the rare male designer who designs for women, not just to them:
There was a kindness and romanticism to his work. But it was strong, too. Elbaz understood that all three could coexist in a single design because they could coexist in a woman’s personality. He regularly lamented his weight. Perhaps that’s why he shied away from trussing women up without leaving even a millimeter of room in which to breathe.
Elbaz has always been on their side: admiring, commiserating, cheering. Fashion needs Elbaz’s aesthetic — but more important, women deserve it.
Last year, the New York Times spotlighted the designer’s creative process in his office at Lanvin. “The moment I get out of my office,” the self-described workaholic says, “I feel like I’m worth nothing.” Bananas. Perhaps the outcry from Lanvin employees—and the fashion industry—can change that.
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