Last night, the unanimously adored couturier launched AZ Factory, a revolutionary new label committed to making you feel your best, just as you are.
Haute couture week is not where you go to see everyday clothes. Indeed, the showcasing event is intended as an opulent theatre of dreams, and for close to two decades, one of the best-loved actors on its stage was Alber Elbaz. Until his departure from Lanvin in 2016, he was universally admired as a fashion magician, a couturier able to transform cloth into living, breathing fantasy with little more than his bare hands. “I was always a little bit sceptical about the meeting of technology and fashion,” he said in a prologue to his much-anticipated return to the official couture schedule, the launch of AZ Factory.
During his five-year hiatus from the spotlight, there’s been an about-turn in his approach. Technology now lies at the heart of his new “solutions driven” take on fashion, which focuses on creating clothes that enhance the lives of the women that wear them, rather than hinder them. His thoughts on the role of tech in fashion turned on a trip to Silicon Valley, where he realised the potential of taking “heritage, tradition and technology and working like an alchemist, putting it all together” to create something entirely new.
Far from a compromise on the diligence and craftsmanship that defined the work that made the world fall in love with him, AZ Factory embodies what a more future-minded, universally applicable approach to craft can look like. The fact that Alber dubbed the immersive, staged-BTS fashion film he debuted last night a ‘Show Fashion’ (as opposed to a ‘fashion show’) gives you a feel for the on-its-head perspective he’s adopted to working, centring on stories, rather than seasonal collections, for example. One of those tales is MyBody, which features garments inspired by the perfect LBD. Here, the iconic garment is given a range of characteristically Alber spins -- low square necklines, and subtly theatrical gigot sleeves -- but where its real ingenuity lies is in the AnatoKnit it’s crafted from, a specifically engineered synthetic fabric that works with the body’s natural curves to create the feeling of a custom-fitted piece. Available from XXS to 4XL, a feeling of svelte confidence is promised no matter your size.
Elsewhere, there are the Pointy Sneaks, shoes that occupy the middle ground between a trainer and a knifepoint mule, Switchwear looks that take you from bed to the ballroom with the simple addition of a jewel-tone duchesse satin skirt, and SuperTech-SuperChic activewear that features couture-level detailing.
There’s been much said about the need for fantastical fashion that transports us to another planet entirely this season, but what Alber exhibits in his first collection of AZ Factory stories is arguably more forward-thinking. Rather than offering respite from the everyday, he’s chosen to draw potential that lies at our disposal, producing clothes engineered to enhance our lives as they are right now, and allowing us to move through the world with confidence, comfort and joy.