Monday, February 1, 2021


In an article of mine a couple of years ago I wondered how it was possible that a talented designer like Alber Elbaz was out of work. Finally these days the Israeli designer presented his new project: AZ Factory. Alber Elbaz, who made his name at storied fashion houses including Yves Saint Laurent and spent a 14-year spell at Lanvin, marked AZ Factory’s global launch with a 25-minute film, Show Fashion, aired Tuesday night on Haute Couture’s online platform, AZ Factory’s website and YouTube. AZ Factory is making its debut exclusively at Farfetch, Net-a-Porter and the brand’s website with the first product story centred around a little black dress (11 versions of the little black dress) from engineered knitwear. All of it is made with what Mr. Elbaz calls “Anatoknit,” a ribbed knit with ergonomic lines of 13 different tensions that constrain and release for maximum movement and security, creating support for the back almost like an orthopedic belt. It took him seven months to get it right. There is a polo style and one with giant, structured sleeves and one with a big statement bow that can be buttoned on and off; portrait necklines and square necks and symmetric necks. All of them close with gold zippers (one of Mr. Elbaz’s former signatures was the visible zip) with a long matching loop like the pull on a scuba suit so the wearer can manipulate it no matter where on the garment it is, and doesn’t have to ask anyone else for help. Later product lines include colourful dresses and €455 “pointy sneaks”. Prices start at €210 and sizes span XXS to XXXXL. After that comes what Mr. Elbaz calls “switchwear” — that is, primary-colored bubble skirts and tunic T-shirts and ball skirts and double-breasted jackets and hoodies with the drape of a bubble shade. They’re all made from recycled polyester that looks like duchesse satin that can be pulled on and off over leggings and T-shirts for a meeting or a lunch or a gala event. Plus seven pajama sets by seven artists celebrating kissing, dancing, hugging and other celebrations of human tactility. And after that comes a group of what look like classic brocades and piqués — tennis dresses and tuxedo suits and strapless columns — all of which are actually made from a nylon microfiber yarn. Mr. Elbaz discovered the yarn, called Nylstar (96 filaments in a single thread), at a yarn laboratory in Spain and then had it woven by a company in Amsterdam to create the three-dimensional effect of opulence. Except that, since it’s actually technical, it can be crushed and packed and sat upon, and yet all the wrinkles shake out. Everywhere: a “sneaker pump” (a sneaker with an elongated pointy toe like a court shoe). This is “a factory and a laboratory starting small”, Elbaz says in the film. “Can tradition and technology coexist? Is fashion still relevant today? The answer is a big, big yes. When things are not great. We need fashion.” Alber Elbaz in 2019 found a home at Richemont, with the AZ factory  project, where he says he is preparing a "dream factory" that rebels against fashion cycles, automatic collections made by algorithms, the fear of not being liked. “My dream factory wants to be the place of authenticity. Ours is not an incubator but a forge of real things, with the dream as the starting point and the product as the arrival point ”, he declared.

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