It's not uncommon to see even blasé fashion editors in a blubber of tears over the singular beauty of Alber Elbaz's clothes. The Moroccan-born creative director of Lanvin was recently awarded France's coveted Legion of Honor-which hasn't gone to his head, but to his heart. "When I design, it's not about my ego. The women in my clothes make the magic. They realize my dreams," he tells us. It's particularly sweet that this non-Frenchman is lauded as one of fashion's modern masters, since he's running France's oldest, most-esteemed maison-Jeanne Lanvin was at her peak in the 1920s. Notes Harold Koda of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Where Jeanne sculpted tulle and paper taffeta with touches of celluloid, Alber plays with parachute silk, nylon, and silicone. Unquestionably, they share a deep love of lightness." Perhaps Elbaz explains it best: "The name Lanvin doesn't scream; it whispers." -Nancy Knox

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