Five years ago, Alber Elbaz was so far from being in love with fashion that “What’s next?” burden him. An industry executive heard he was planning a move to electronics. Elbaz burst out laughing at the thought. “I have no technology sensitivity,” he zooms in at me. “And I don’t even have a driver’s license so I can’t be a taxi driver.” Even a minus that choice, what else could he do but face the fact that he needed to find himself again in the only business he knew about?
Boredom was Alber’s best friend on the return journey. It made him think, took him to a new place. He admits that he is working on nearly 50 different ideas, but potential investors always ask about business plans. The only person who didn’t ask was Johann Rupert, the head of luxury conglomerate Richemont. After three hours of conversation, he gave Elbaz the green light about his biggest and brightest idea. The world can see what happens on Tuesday night with the virtual premiere of “The Fashion Show”, a doctorate celebrating the revival of Alber’s love affair with fashion under the label AZ Factory. A handmade invitation arrives home with a bag of spirulina popcorn. I settled down.
AZ The first and last letters of the name. Is it A-Zed or A-Zee? He suggested AZ. And “Factory” because, “No. me, that we. I like factory, simplicity, honesty. I love that they bring sandwiches from home. I like the engine sound. “There are 20 workers and 10 interns at the AZ Factory.” There is no ego, we are in as a start-up, “said Elbaz.” We all have to quarantine. I’ve never even met them without a mask. ” beside his sense of release. “I don’t want it to be around 400 SKUs, 600 SKUs. I can’t do that anymore. We will tell one story at a time. The idea is to start with something a little simpler. Which is difficult for me because I like so many things. But here I have to be a creator and a curator. “
The AZ factory was created as a solution to some pressing fashion problems. Is it necessary? Is that relevant? “And is that at a turning point,” Elbaz asked himself, “or is it just my question?” He didn’t want to go back to his own past, but when he saw couture’s, he was surprised by how designers always wore white coats, like doctors or scientists. “That’s the reason why I allowed myself to perform during couture week. I’m not showing dresses in 50 meters of fabric – it’s more like 1.5 meters – but couture stands for laboratory experimentation and individuality. Which is also the launch pad for Factory AZ.
A trip to Palo Alto prompts more questions and Eureka! moment. “Can technology and fashion coexist? Can emotions and intuition live with a world of data and algorithms? Can designers and CEOs live in peace, or is it war? The best success comes when the two are together, yin and yang. “
The first story Elbaz chooses to tell with AZ Factory is the right foundation: “I wanted to engineer something anatomical, a new knit dress that could shape your silhouette.” In the end, there are 10 dresses, made from a new type of jersey: smart fabrics with 13 different elasticities in different parts of the body, hugging where they need to be, releasing where they shouldn’t. Also, ergonomic arms; perforation so that the cloth breathes; the girdle bones are moved from front to back for support. And a collar like a necklace for a zipper that extends all the way to the spine, so that a woman can stand on her own. There’s a large bow option to mount on the back, for some couture pizzazz. That’s the package that will launch Factory AZ in e-commerce. In the following weeks, it will be colored with red (for Valentine’s Day) and rainbows (“Selfie friendly,” said Elbaz).
The second story is the real kicker: three skirts, two tops, two jackets, one jogging suit. It’s been a year to wear comfortable, comfortable clothes. “Everyone wants clothes for stretching and jogging, but how can you go from casual clothes to more fabulous clothes?” Elbaz mused. Answer: You can stick with sneakers and jog, wear a satin duchesse (recycled yarn) skirt and you’ll be New Balance to Balenciaga in no time. Her marriage between athletics and couture is bold but irresistible. Double-breasted tuxedo jacket in duchesse black, satin balloon skirt, that doesn’t match enchant along with sportswear. Not to mention the sneakers that Elbaz shows with everything, pointy, pump-like, because he keeps hearing that women miss the way pointy toes lengthen the leg. She calls them “Sneaky pumps”, and “The Show Fashion” does a great job of promoting their versatility.
He also worked with graphic artists (including cult London ceramics expert John Booth) on pajama set designs. “I wear it a lot, lose hugs more than anything, so one print is all about cuddling. I miss kissing, so we made a cloth talking about kissing. You can wear it with a tuxedo at home. There are prints of all the dancing women. Pull the large ball of fuchsia duchesse over it. I sketch a love story [I’m thinking it’s Jean Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina in Jean Luc Godard’s Une Femme est une Femme but I could be wrong]. You can wear it with a duchesse skirt or pants. AZ Lazy, you wear it at home, AZ Crazy, you go out. “
The third story challenge is to take the microfiber nylon used in active wear and turn it into high-end fashion fabric. Elbaz takes the fiber from a laboratory in Spain that produces it to a startup in Amsterdam that is given a new dimension of luxury. If the mock-doc of “The Show Fashion” is a bit over the top and curvy at times, her visit to the fabric factory is mesmerizing, if only to underline that Elbaz is doing something that feels quite unique, not in a pretty way, but in a spirit of research-based pragmatism. leading to a post-Covid future.
And consider this: all sizes XS to XXXL, and prices between € 230 and € 1200. “I like fashion ideas that suit everyone,” says Elbaz. “More than beautiful, goals are important to me.” Yes, the goal is persuasive but it is the beauty (and cheeks) of AZ Factory that is seductive. The turning point indeed.