A Fashion Rendezvous with Alber Elbaz

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"It was important to come and bring our clothes to New York and to bring the magic of the fashion show to New York," enthused Alber Elbaz. "It's about bringing the dream — we want to show the customer how we do it and why we do it."

The Lanvin designer, responsible for one of the Paris season's most highly acclaimed collections, brought a slice of his design magic to New York Thursday night when Bergdorf Goodman chief Jim Gold hosted a "fashion rendezvous" showcasing Lanvin's sumptuous fall designs. The show was held at a private club on the northeast corner of 60th Street and Fifth Avenue, in a gilded room that was reminiscent of the luxe suites of the iconic Crillon Hotel. "New York City and our clients needed a little treat," said Gold, who then introduced Elbaz. The diminutive designer emceed the delightful fashion show, offering his sage, not to mention witty, advice in between looks while live music played — all in a collective effort by both retailer and designer to bring back the pleasure of shopping in what has been a souring retail climate. "I'm always worried," he professed prior to the start of the show, adding that he recently went on a protein diet. "It must be a Jewish thing."

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The event was a year in the making, Elbaz admitted, at a time when the economy showed little sign of slowing down. "When things went sour, we never thought about stopping — just adapting," Elbaz highlighted. "Next to being a Wall Street broker, the second hardest job is being a designer."

The entire fall collection was cut on the bias — suiting and cocktail pieces, most of which were shown in black, as well as heavy and tribal geometric jewelry. "I sat and sketched this collection while watching CNN," Elbaz mused. "I see the disasters and I think, 'Fabulous.'" To combat the cries from retailers imploring designers to lower their prices by as much as 30 percent, Elbaz responded by infusing some practical solutions to his designs. Mixed fabric use, for example, was implemented in coats to reduce cost, whereas embellished fronts were complemented by simple and plain backs. "It reduces the pain for women when they don't have to sit down on beads," Elbaz rationalized.

Served milk chocolate-covered cherries, pomegranate martinis, and Champagne, the all-important clients (the primary reason for the evening's affair) were joined by Paris jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal of JAR, Neiman Marcus Group CEO Burt Tansky, Bergdorf's fashion team of Linda Fargo (pictured below) and Elizabeth Hui, dermatologist Dr. Pat Wexler, Nancy Gonzalez, and new Lanvin chief Thierry Andretta, as well as a smattering of editors and socialites, including Anh Duong, Adelina Wong Ettelson, and cosmetics maven Olivia Chantecaille (picured with Elbaz below).

In town for three days, Elbaz squeezed business in with some personal time. He shot his fall ad campaign with lensman Steven Meisel, having opted not to shoot in Los Angeles, where the Lanvin campaigns have been done in past years.

Patrick McMullan

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